According to a 2017 survey from Bankrate, more than 44 million US adults have a side hustle. If you’re one of them, you’ve probably put some thought into what it would require to take your gig to the next level.
Then again, perhaps you feel hesitant to turn around and spend that money you’ve worked so hard to earn. That’s completely understandable. You’re working more than one job precisely because you want to generate extra income, so the idea of putting that money back into your job may seem counterintuitive, especially if you had a particular savings goal in mind when you started your side hustle.
However, investing in certain side hustle accessories now has the potential to save you time and further boost your income down the line. Whether you’re just starting out or looking to ramp up an established operation, putting down some cash to ensure your business is running as efficiently as possible can be a worthwhile investment.
Here are six things in particular a serious side hustler may want to consider investing in for the good of their business:
1. Invoice and Accounting Services
You can probably manage your side hustle’s accounting in the early days with Excel, but as your business expands, this method will become too time-consuming. You may want to keep your overhead expenses low, especially if you’re running a lean business, but investing in invoice and accounting services can make a world of difference as your side hustle grows.
Tools like QuickBooks Online can take care of much of the work of invoicing and tracking expenses for you. These tools often offer multiple levels of service as well, depending on your needs and budget. For example, you can get started with basic QuickBooks services for just $10 per month. The more you pay, the more tools you’ll get, but even the basic plan offers income and expense tracking, receipt organization, invoicing, and payment acceptance.
2. An Accountant or the Right Tax Prep Software
Free tax preparation programs such as Credit Karma can do a good job with simple tax returns, but things may get more complicated as your side hustle grows. Investing in some tax prep help is a great way to ensure you’re filing appropriately and getting every tax break for which you qualify.
Services like TurboTax’s Self-Employed option are specifically designed for both personal and business income and expenses, and some of these services offer one-on-one assistance in addition to an online tax preparation platform. Of course, you also have the option to hire an accountant to handle everything for you, if you’d prefer.
Also of note: Tax preparation expenses are deductible for self-employed businesses, so taking advantage of tax prep services offers low risk and high reward.
3. A Premium Business Credit Card
Business credit cards typically offer specific perks that can deliver even the smallest small-business owner a ton of value. These cards may come with a higher annual fee than personal credit cards might, but the benefits they provide may offset the cost.
For example, the American Express Business Gold Card gives you the option to earn additional rewards points on the two categories of purchase where your business spends the most each month (e.g., advertising, software, shipping, etc.) Additional perks, like a free year of G Suite Basic, can also make the higher annual fee more palatable.
Not using a business credit card for business-related transactions could mean you’re leaving money on the table, and that’s something you want to avoid as you grow your side hustle.
For more expert career advice, check out the latest issue of Recruiter.com Magazine:
4. Relevant Education and Certifications
You may be pretty darn good at your side hustle already, but is there really nothing left to learn? While you don’t always need to spend money to gain valuable knowledge, paying a little to further your education can positively impact your side hustle.
David Hastings, side hustler and owner of the family products company SoFlo Baby, felt that way after realizing how much he could save by learning digital marketing himself. “Instead of paying $500-1,500 per month, I paid $1,500 for three courses on digital marketing and learned how to do it myself,” he says. “I just didn’t have a budget to hire a digital marketer.”
While the cost of education or training may seem like a lot now, consider what you can earn down the road by expanding your skill set today.
5. Time Management Tools
In today’s hyperconnected world, it’s easy to get distracted, but as a side hustler, you only have so much time outside of your day job. Seizing every free second throughout the day may be the difference between growth and stagnation.
In addition to utilizing free time during commutes, between appointments, or while waiting for the bus or train, you can invest in certain tools to optimize the time you spend in work mode. These can run the gamut from a simple paper planner to G Suite or project management tools like Trello and Harvest — or a combination of all of the above.
Managing your time effectively is one of the best investments you can make. Otherwise, you’ll never feel like you have enough of it.
6. You Financial Future (Even If You Don’t Plan on Retiring)
Regardless of why you started your side hustle, investing today’s earnings for your future self is a no-brainer. A high-yield savings account is a great place to park some cash for the short term, but you need to consider some long-term investments as well. Individual retirement accounts (IRAs), simplified employee pension (SEP) IRAs, and solo 401(k)s all allow side hustlers to save for the future while getting tax breaks in the here and now. Spend some time researching these options to see which ones may be right for you.
Your side hustle may be secondary to your day job, but it still deserves the attention, time, and tools it needs to grow and become more profitable. You work hard for your cash, and investing it in the right tools and services now can help you earn even more of it later on.
Matt Miczulski is an associate writer at FinanceBuzz.