The Sideline Entrepreneur - Six Tips for Starting a Business on a Part-Time Basis
by Caron_Beesley, Community Moderator
- Created: October 13, 2011, 6:59 am
- Updated: April 30, 2012, 6:59 pm
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.
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.
- Does My Business Have To Provide Part-Time Employees with Benefits?
- Need Help Starting a Business? Get the Right Kind of Advice & Take Control of Your Start-Up!
- 10 Regulatory Steps You Must Follow When Hiring Your First Employee
- Becoming a Freelancer: Assessing your Readiness to Be your Own Boss and Tips for Getting Started
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General small business tips and tricks.