December 8, 2021

Convert your side hustle into a business

The hustle is great when it's all fun and games. Let's convert that hustle into a profitable business without a headache.


Each company is both different and similar in many ways. This article will focus on my journey for both my business and the businesses I work with. As companies grow, it goes without saying that, their needs change. Here we will explore a variety of scenarios allowing us to demonstrate the requirements to build a solid foundation that will promote both scalability and sustainability. My goal for each of you is that that this will help to ease the pain in learning the hard way as many entrepreneurs do, including myself.

Now, I know this is a lot of information so take it in steps. Everything is better in doses. Make a plan or reach out and let our team guide you on your road to success. You got this!


It is crucial that you work with a professional to create a business plan. Look for economic development groups in your area because they typically have free resources and coaching to get you going on the right path -- a realistic path. This process is not for everyone so it is always great to have another trusted resource or advisor. These groups almost always have great templates that you may use to create your mission statement, core values, and sometimes your company handbook. These things will grow and adapt with you over time but it is so important to set up a clear foundation right off the bat.

Now, if you are an existing business, these groups will usually be able to create path moving forward that will assist in accomplishing your goals as you have defined them. This process will not be as easy as starting with a clean slate but it is doable. After all, how many companies have we seen pivot their business activities in the last decade. One word, Meta. If you don't know what that means, go say hello to your friend Google.


Branding has so many meanings today due to the wild jungle known as the internet. I am not a marketing expert, however, what I have found to be the most useful strategy is to find the right person (or people) who are your experts. This may be in the form of an agency or simply a one-man-band. Whoever you choose, make sure that they understand both your company and you. A wise advisor once told me, "Tell me what your company is and then let's create a brand around that. I will worry about the rest." That advisor was Zach Christensen of Titan Studio.

In an effort of full-disclosure, beginning this process forced me to take a dose of my own medicine. Over the years, my clients would constantly hear me stress the importance of a company's image and how they presented themselves in their emails, website, printed materials, social media, and more. Not once did I take my own advice. Well, I did and I wish I had sooner. By meeting with Zach and having him guide me through his process, I was able to focus on what my business looked like to me. It was all those ideas in my head that were then extracted and built into what it is today. I am a firm believer that companies evolve and (my new favorite word) pivot with changing circumstances -- both good and bad. Zach and his team allowed for me to translate that into the look, feel, and vibe I have today.

Now, as one might assume, I am clearly very confident in Titan Studios, however, you have to find the right fit for you. Ask your peers and see who they have used. Ask them about their successes and failures. Then take all that information and interview at least 3 professionals before making the decision on who to go with. If it doesn't feel right, it won't be right.

Last but not least, with this very complex series of tasks, I do not recommend that you go it alone. The days of DIY marketing only result in a mess that you will not have time to manage. Similar to bookkeeping, do it the right way first and you'll invest your time and money properly. Don't forget that it doesn't have to break the bank -- if you have a certain budget, let the professionals know and I am sure they will be able to come up with a phased approach that fits. All in all, speak up and learn to articulate your visions, needs, and must-haves. No one else will do it for you.


The first step to legitimizing your business as a business is determining what type of organization you would like (or should be) formed as, obtaining an EIN (or Tax ID) number, and filing all those applications with the appropriate government agency or agencies. I will use a Connecticut business as an example because that is what I am the most familiar with.

Before anything else, this is guiding advice and not to be thought of as anything other than exactly that -- advice. If you have an atypical business or something is not right out of the box, I encourage you to reach out to a business attorney and/or accountant to ensure that what you are doing or will do will be the best for your specific needs. In a perfect world, the very first step would be to verify that the name of your business is not being used by anyone else. This can be done with a Google search or, like in Connecticut, there is a search console that allows you to verify that you are registering a business name that is not already taken.

Once you have determined that your name is in fact yours, it is time to register with the Secretary of State. Some counties require you to also register with them but we will stick with the basics here. In the State of Connecticut, you would visit the SOTS website ( and eFile the registration paperwork and pay the filing fee. Your application will be almost instantaneously approved as long as there are no conflicts.

From there, you will want to head over to the IRS website and file for an Employer Identification Number, or EIN, which is commonly referred to as a Tax ID. This can be done by clicking here. It does warn you but I will warn you again -- save the Form SS-4 PDF that you receive when you are filing because this is the one time that you will have easy access to it. All clients of Digisist are required to place that PDF inside of their Client Portal for easy and secure access. Typically, you will need this when trying to obtain a business bank account or line of credit.

There are many websites and service providers out there who like to charge a pretty penny to accomplish these very simple tasks, however, with a little bit of research, most states offer the guidance on exactly how to do this. Again, if you are a unique case with special circumstances, I would highly suggest consulting a local, business attorney. What a great time to develop a relationship than at the very beginning of your business journey?


I'm sure that you have spoken to friends and family about moving your great idea into a profitable business. I'm also almost positive that you have seen or heard of QuickBooks by Intuit. QuickBooks Online, or QBO, is the preferred financial accounting software of Digisist and serious accounting professionals. As much as we love Intuit products, the name can be deceiving. As one trusted accountant told me in the early days of Digisist, "Just because someone knows QuickBooks, does not mean they know accounting. It's not as quick as people like it to be."

This advise came after I requested a consult on a new file I was working on. Her response was exactly the same that I had, "Oh no, just no!" The client, who shall remain nameless, had a set of books that were so unimaginably treacherous. Fortunately, they joined our team and in a few months, we were able to remedy all the incorrect entries and (incorrect) workflows that were in place.

This story is not meant to insight fear. This is meant to give you a glimpse of what happens when you trust someone simply because they have a great pitch. The pitch should be great but show me the proof in the pudding. I implore you to do the same in your search for the right person or company to manage your books.

Sales Tax

Oh, sales tax. That feeling that you know you should probably be charging it but have no idea where to look. There are great companies like Avalara Tax that provide an all-in-one solution. That type of service is fantastic when you have the volume to justify the cost. Fortunately for you, Digisist provides you with monthly, quarterly, or annual sales tax filing add-ons to any bookkeeping package.

This portion of your business people quickly forget when they are jolted with the excitement of building their client base and signing their first deal. Sadly, that excitement leads to forgetting about this very important "Uncle Sam" moment. Our clients are always educated and aware of what they need to be prepared for with respect to sales tax. If you haven't already, do a search for your state's Department of Revenue Services and find out if your products/services are taxable -- and how much.

It can get confusing. Please reach out if you need help here.


How many times have you called a business -- even your local pharmacy -- and get lost in their IVR? It's annoying and makes you want to hang up the phone. How about when your looking for that file that you know you saw from the start of the year that you need to prove you bought a new computer? Once again, it's there when you don't need it but never there when you do. This is the primary purpose of a support team.

Team implies more than one person. What I want you to remember is that a team can very simply be a combination of AI, applications, and skilled professionals. Personally, I could not serve our clients without the assistance of our VoIP phone system, document management service, or communication platforms. I also wouldn't want to try without it.

Whether with Digisist or another provider, be sure that you vet their vendors that your data will be stored in. Is it secure? Is it readily accessible in multiple ways? These are all questions that need to be asked. That last thing you need is to be on a service call and unable to get paid for your work. Make your SaaS and people-driven providers show you what the workflow is before you agree to anything.


When I think insurance, I think SAVA. SAVA Insurance Group is a women-owned business headquartered in Waterford, CT that prides itself on being #GuidedByHeart. Every business needs to find their SAVA. I have admired and worked with this agency for over a decade. To this day, they still surprise me with their attention to detail and personalization of a product that people typically don't really want to think about.

Let's face it, no one wants insurance. We need insurance. If SAVA can help you in your market, I encourage you to reach out to them. If not, find your SAVA. You need to know that the policies that you purchase are protecting your business and all the things associated with that business. You need to know that should an unfortunate situation come up, you know you can call your agent and they will know how to guide you.

The biggest mistake I have seen is trusting the low-bidder with insurance. There is a fine balance between your premium paid and the service you receive. Remember that when you are shopping your policies.

Final thoughts

The things discussed above are meant to serve as a general guide for someone who is trying to get their business started with the proper foundation. Your idea is great. I know it. Without the proper foundation and plan, your idea will go no where beyond your imagination.

Take some time to do your own research and when you are ready to take the next step, call us. Better yet, tell us what you need. We look forward to hearing from you -- hopefully sooner rather than later.

Get in touch with us and let us know your specific needs.

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