Throughout most of the 20th century, most people could pay their bills and afford an annual vacation with a single 9-5 job. Over the last twenty years though, our world has changed so much that for many, a single job barely covers a roof, heat and lights, much less a weekend getaway.

So it probably shouldn’t surprise you that an estimated 40-50% of Americans have at least one side hustle. Starting up a small business selling homemade products or running a consulting firm on nights and weekends is increasingly more common, and necessary, for a lot of Americans. 

What exactly is a side hustle?

Side hustles and hobbies are sometimes conflated, but there is one important difference. With a hobby, you are doing something you love, like bird watching or cooking or creating handmade crafts. And while you might make a few bucks with your hobby here and there, the purpose is to escape your daily grind and enjoy the time spent on the activity, not to generate revenue.

With a side hustle — even if you love what you are doing — you’re in it primarily for the extra income. Maybe you need the money for a vacation fund, to pay off student loans, or just to make rent. Enjoying what you do in your side hustle is secondary to bringing home the extra bacon!

Is it time to level up?

If you’ve been running your side hustle for a while, and it’s growing into a serious business, first off - congrats! That’s amazing.

Second, it might be time to consider upgrading your financial tools.

Through Starion Bank’s online banking platform and our partnership with Clover, we offer solutions that can be customized for nearly any kind of solopreneur or small business.

Here are six ways an enhanced business toolkit can help accelerate your side hustle’s growth and success.

1. Look and run more like a business

Meticulous tracking of your income and expenses is necessary to understand customer behavior, track the health of your business, and to develop strategies for future growth.

How do you project a more professional image from the outset? Start with a professional-looking invoice. A sharp invoice signals to your customers that you take your work more seriously than a weekend hobbyist.

Tracking invoices you’ve already sent, and making sure they get paid, ensures that no revenue is forgotten or slips through the cracks. Plus, it keeps your books current and accurate.

With Clover, you’ll have a dashboard that can help you design and send invoices, track the revenue that comes in, and even understand which products your customers love the most.

2. Separate personal and professional banking

If you’re a hobbyist, and generating significant revenue isn’t on the top of  your mind, then accepting cash into your personal checking account probably won't annoy your accountant too much when tax season rolls around. However, if you’re growing a business, then separating personal and business accounts is a definite must.

Start with a basic business checking account for accepting payments and paying expenses. This initial account doesn’t need advanced features, like unlimited ACH transfers. But it gets you started. As your side hustle grows, you can upgrade the account to suit your needs.

A business savings account is good for stashing money for quarterly tax payments and other necessary expenses. You can set up the ACH or other payment methods ahead of time – if you know how much you’ll need to pay – so you don’t miss important deadlines.

Don't forget the perks that come with small business debit and credit cards. If you have a lot of small payments that could net you some benefits like cash back or points, take advantage! Those small additions can add up over time, especially for a small business owner.

3. Do business anywhere, anytime

You are probably on the go as much as your customers. Maybe even more!  And because your side hustle isn’t a full time gig, you don’t have hours to spend on admin tasks. Starion’s secure portals for mobile and online banking makes it easy to deposit checks, set up bill payments, and do online accounting no matter where you are.

How many people still go to a festival or a flea market and only carry cash? These days, people pay with debit cards, credit cards, mobile phones, and yes, even cash. If you don’t take all of those payment types, you’re leaving money on the table.

For retail sales needs, Clover offers handheld devices that accept cards and electronic payments.

4. An App for almost every need

The Clover App Market is like the Google Play store or the Apple App store, but for small business.

Inventory, customer relationship management, loyalty programs, accounting, marketing, analytics . . . there are so many great tools available that it may feel a little overwhelming. Spend a minute or two scrolling through, though, and you’ll find the apps neatly categorized and easily searchable.

These can not only help you get started with some important business and relationship processes, but they’ll also give you the flexibility and control any solid side hustle needs. 

5. Market like the pros

Of course, to grow your side hustle, you need to attract new buyers and stay in touch with current customers. Marketing has a reputation for being expensive and time-consuming. Luckily, Clover has you covered. Whenever a customer buys from you, the software collects their contact information and adds it to your list.

With that ever-growing list, you can set up automated emails and text messages. You can even send customers well wishes for their birthday and holidays. And of course, thank them for buying and entice them with future offers, new products, or specials. There are even more features you can add later to help extend your reach and nurture those important customer relationships.

It’s easier than ever to cover all the basics of marketing without the higher bills of an agency. It’s a perfect start for a small business that needs to save every penny for new products and growth.

6. The most important part

With Starion Bank and Clover, you’ll have access to local business and banking experts who understand your finances and goals. When you have questions or need support, whether it’s with online banking, mobile banking, or on-site point of sale solutions, we’ll be right there beside you.

Contact a Starion business banker or cash management officer today to get started.