How to start a Side Hustle Business for Beginners: Choosing a Winning Idea + Validation


If you want to start your own side hustle business, there are a few things you need to consider before you get started.

Some of these considerations include:

  • Understanding the reason behind starting a side hustle business;
  • Identifying a winning idea that's right for you;
  • Choosing what sort of business format works best for you; and
  • Setting a validation goal to determine whether the idea is worth your investment of time and other resources.

This post will provide you with a three-step process to help you:

  1. Find a suitable business idea
  2. Decide the right platform to launch your side hustle business;
  3. Set the right targets to test your idea to ensure that your side hustle business is well placed for success.

I’ve also put together a free guide summarising the steps in this post to help you stay focused and on track as you go through the process of setting up your own side hustle business.

This is the second post in the Side Hustle Series, where I break down the steps to help you start your own side hustle business.

Make sure you check out the first post, which is all about defining the motivation behind starting a side hustle business and identifying your hard & soft skills, check out the first post in the Side Hustle Series.

Step 1 - Finding a 'winning' idea

How do you choose the right type of side hustle business for yourself?

Ideally, your winning idea will be a cross-section between something that you’re interested in and something that other people need or want to learn about.

Keep in mind that there is no 'perfect' idea, as your initial business idea will change, grow and evolve over time.

The key is to start with one idea and learn as you go.

"While it’s tempting to wait for clarity before taking action, the truth is that clarity comes through action."
- Ryan Robinson

A good starting point is to assess the skills, experience, and relationships you currently have that can help you excel with your side hustle business.

What experience do you have or skills are you most proud of?

If you’re not completely sure what you’re good at, or where you should start strengthening the skills you want to build, you need to clarify what skills you currently have.

Your skills are broken down into hard and soft skills:

  • Soft skills are the personal attributes that you have that help you interact with other people.
  • Hard skills are specific and teachable abilities that can be defined and measured.

For a deeper dive into hard and soft skills and get a better understanding of why you want to create your side hustle business, check out this post.

Once you've determined your skills, ask yourself these three questions:

  1. What has your experience taught you? If you’ve worked in a field for 2, 3, 5+ years - are you able to identify the needs of the market? Are there any under-served customers you could target or any weak points in your competitors?
  2. Which skills are you most proud of? Do you enjoy writing, speaking, selling, marketing, web design or teaching. Focus on ways you can lean into the core skills that you have.
  3. Do you have any strategic relationships? Do you have any existing relationships that could help generate some early buzz, interest and potential customers for your side hustle business idea?

By determining your skills and answering these three questions, you will be better placed to choose 'winning idea' for your side hustle business.

Step 2 - Choosing a Business Format

Once you’ve chosen a suitable business idea, you need to determine what sort of format the business will take.

The internet has made it the easiest time to become an entrepreneur as you’re no longer restricted to setting up a bricks-and-mortar business.

All it takes nowadays is a few clicks on your mouse and you can have a business up and running in minutes online.

The business format of your side hustle can include:

  • A Blog - if you enjoy writing, marketing, and social media
  • A Podcast - if you enjoy explaining topics and having fun conversations
  • A YouTube channel (like this one) - if you enjoy working with video and storytelling
  • Selling services online - offering a service people want or need, like coaching, consulting, or freelancing
  • Selling physical products online - using Etsy, Amazon, or eBay to sell physical products
  • Building a digital tool - developing software, apps, games, etc

Do you gravitate towards one particular format?

Are there any skills or interests that you have right now, which draw you towards a particular format as a starting point?

Does one particular format feel most attainable for your right now?

Ask yourself whether the skills you have draw you towards a particular format or whether you feel one of these formats is the most attainable.

I started a YouTube channel, which lead me to start this blog and a newsletter to help me offer my coaching and consulting services online.

You need to start somewhere so choose a business format that most suits you right now.

And remember, just because you start with one business format doesn’t prevent you from adding additional formats.

Step 3 - Idea Validation

The final step for determining your side hustle business is validation.

Validation means achieving reasonable certainty that your business will have a sustainable and growing audience in a matter of weeks or months.

This usually means hitting a validation goal, like a certain number of readers, listeners, views, sales, pre-orders, or subscribers within a specific timeframe.

Validation isn’t a guarantee of success.

It takes work to build trust that you’ll be able to deliver enough value in exchange for the price that you are asking.

It’s designed to help get you your first paying customer and provide a foundation for future growth.

Set your validation goal by asking yourself two questions:

  • What kind of validation goal feels most meaningful to you? Choose the most meaningful metric to go after - whether that’s subscribers, sales or pre-orders for example.
  • What feels realistic? Set a measurable target that feels realistic given time constraints and existing commitments?


Depending on your business format, you can set validation goals that look something like this, which you aim to achieve within a certain timeframe (like 3 months):

  • For a Blog - 1,000 readers or 100 email subscribers or 10 eBook pre-sales;
  • For a Podcast-  1,000 listens or $100 in affiliate sales or 250 Spotify subscribers or 25 Patreon supporters
  • For YouTube - 500 subscribers or 5,000 video views or $100 in sponsor revenue
  • For a Service - 2 paying clients or $1,000 in revenue or 1 monthly retainer deal
  • For a Product - 1 prototype developed/tested or 25 pre-sales or 10 Etsy sale
  • For a Digital Tool - 500 waiting list subscribers or 50 pre-sales or 100 trial signups

Next Steps

Now that you’ve chosen the most suitable idea to start and set a meaningful validation goal to test your idea, it’s time to put an action plan together.

This is where the rubber hits the road and you start executing on your side hustle business so that you can test and validate your idea and try to get some traction.

Creating an action plan and executing that plan is what we dive into in the next post of this Side Hustle Series.

In the meantime, don’t forget to download your free guide which summarizes the steps in this post to help keep you on track with your side hustle business.

Good luck!