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The Sideline Entrepreneur - Six Tips for Starting a Business on a Part-Time Basis

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The Sideline Entrepreneur - Six Tips for Starting a Business on a Part-Time Basis

By Caron_Beesley, Contributor
Published: October 13, 2011 Updated: April 30, 2012

Given the potential financial risks involved in starting your own business, it’s no surprise that many successful entrepreneurs begin their businesses as part-time ventures.

In fact, the old adage – “don’t give up your day job” – rings true for many would-be entrepreneurs who are well aware of the benefits of maintaining a salaried income until they can get their start-up venture off the ground. Likewise, part-time business ownership is also a great opportunity for stay-at-home parents looking to supplement family income while maintaining a flexible and rewarding career.

Of course, running a business part-time brings with it its own challenges. Not least if which is knowing how to juggle entrepreneurism with the reality of part-time work constraints.

So, if you are interested in starting a part-time business, whether it’s as a freelancer, as a long-term part-time venture, or with the dream of taking it full-time, here are six tips for creating a successful part-time business strategy!

Scope out Your Definition of Part-Time

Part-time businesses can very quickly turn into full-time occupations simply because business owners underestimate the investment that is required to start and maintain a business—on the side.

Before you do anything, you’ll need to scope out both your goals and your definition of success. Ask yourself how many hours you want to work. Are you willing to work weekends? Be honest about your needs, motivations, expectations, and how much you are willing to endure to make this venture work for you. Working a few hours a night is quite different to sacrificing your entire weekend—so be brutally honest in your self-assessment.

A great way to assess your readiness for starting a business is to use this Start-Up Assessment Tool from the SBA.

Define Milestones

Next, define and chart monthly milestones for yourself. This can help put key tasks and goals into a manageable perspective. Your milestones might include steps such as setting up a business website, registering your business with the right authorities, securing your first customer, business networking, and so on. Once you have these milestones charted, step back and assess what it will take to get there in terms of hours, resources, etc. 

Business planning can seem like a daunting process, but in reality a plan is a working guide that will help you steer your business on its journey via a series of steps. For tips on keeping your plan simple and manageable, read: How a Simple Business Plan Can Get You from A to Z, and Navigate All Things In Between.

Last but by no means least, don’t underestimate the effort you will need to put in—however long you think something will take, double it.

Take Care of the Business of Being in Business

Remember you are still considered a business owner even if your venture is part-time. Refer to these Steps to Starting a Businessfrom SBA.gov for guidance on how to start your part-time business, while taking care of business registration, permits, tax requirements, and so on. If you are running your business learn more about running a home-based business.

Lean on a Mentor

One of the trickiest aspects of starting any business is that you are on your own. Support in the form of a mentor can give you the much needed help that you might otherwise get from a boss. A mentor can help assess your progress, correct your potential mistakes, and steer you towards realistic goals.  Finding a mentor is surprisingly easy. Organizations such as SCOREoffer free counseling and mentoring from a network of more than 12,400 retired business executives, leaders, and volunteers. Learn more about SCORE and other mentoring options in Steps to Finding a Mentor.

Manage Your Part-Time Calendar

If you are working two jobs or juggling your household and a part-time business, discipline is critical. Technology apps such as voicemail forwarding services can help you stay responsive to clients while you are at work. A virtual assistant can also be of use, they can help manage your calendar, take calls on your behalf, and give your business a professional edge for a nominal fee. This earlier blog also has some tips on managing your work/life balance.

Learn as You Go

The real joy of a part-time business is that you can pace your start-up according to your needs and gain a good understanding of whether business ownership on a full-time basis is right for you.  It’s also a great proving ground and an opportunity to learn from your mistakes in a relatively low-risk fashion. So don’t beat yourself up too much if your failures sometimes outweigh your successes, learn from them.

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About the Author:

Caron Beesley

Contributor

Caron Beesley is a small business owner, a writer, and marketing communications consultant. Caron works with the SBA.gov team to promote essential government resources that help entrepreneurs and small business owners start-up, grow and succeed. Follow Caron on Twitter: @caronbeesley

Comments:

Nice article! Figuring out what you mean by part time is really important, I agree 100%!
This is a great inspiring article.I am pretty much pleased with your good work.You put really very helpful information. Keep it up. Keep blogging.Test Case This post was edited to remove a link. Please review our Community Best Practices for more information about how best to participate in our online discussions. Thank you.
same, I don't have part time business right now, wish to have soon..
I always like your blog post because you always comes with different ideas and information. I always shared your site post with my friends. Keep posting and i will follow you..
It’s actually a great and helpful piece of info. I’m happy that you shared this helpful info with us. Please stay us up to date like this. cell phone spy
One of the most important things to consider if you're starting a part-time business is how your business web site will support your efforts. A good business site is like having a 24/7/365 employee who both markets your business and also provides information to customers, in addition to processing actual sales if you have an ecommerce site. For most business part-timers, careful planning and sufficient investment are critical if you're going to make your business web site work, and consequently your business as a whole work.
Thanks for total details information. 2010 Movies
Thank you Caron for an excellent article. In your first point regarding being clear, I believe you were right on with with the questions one must ask themselves. Differentiation amongst, competitors is vital to the success of the company. I agree, one must ask themselves, why come to me? In this day in age, for each business there is someone doing something very similar. However, finding a unique way to differentiate yourself will attract more customers. cong ty du hoc
The fact that we could start a business in a part time basis is good. I guess that would help us to determine if our business would sell or not. That could also help new entrepreneur to gain extra experience which I believe that would be useful for them. Apartment for Rent in the Philippines
I started part time and hope to be full time soon. hair loss

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