Many people dream of leaving the “rat race” behind and starting their own business. This sounds like a tall order, but in reality, it is quite possible if you take the proper steps along the way. One of the best ways to reach this goal is to start a side business while you are still working full-time. This minimizes your risk, while giving you hope that you will eventually be able to move full-time over to your business. You will also deal with much less stress because, presumably, you will at least have a solid cash flow from your side business before you ever quit your “real job.”
Several years ago, while working full-time in sales, I decided that I wanted to become a freelance writer. Like most people, I was worried about quitting my job and taking the leap. To play it safe, I began to take jobs on the side until I felt comfortable moving into this full-time.
Along the way, I learned quite a bit. Below are five tips for starting a side business while keeping your full-time job:
1. Be willing to work long hours. There is no denying that you are going to be tired after an 8+ hour day at work. But remember, if you ever want to be in charge and own a business, you have to make sacrifices. For several months, I worked eight hours at my full-time job and then sat at the computer for at least four more. Fortunately, since I enjoy writing so much, the second part of my work day was not nearly as stressful.
2. Don’t let your performance suffer at your full-time position. You owe it to your employer to do your job well, even if you are thinking about leaving in the near future. Along with this, keep one thing in mind: you don’t know for sure that your side business is going to take off. For this reason, you may end up staying at your current job for longer than you thought. Don’t burn any bridges!
3. Get help. Even though this is something I avoided, since I was only starting a freelance writing business, most people will be able to take advantage of this benefit. If you have a partner, make sure to spread the work evenly, which will make it much easier for you to work two jobs. A partner also helps to speed up the startup process, meaning you can quit your full-time job sooner rather than later.
4. Create a business plan before getting started. Just because you are not working at your business full-time does not mean you should bounce around all over the place hoping for the best. If you are going to start a side business, you should be serious about staying on track and sticking with your game plan. A business plan gives you direction from the start on everything from organizational structure to marketing strategies. You can also pinpoint exactly what goals you need to reach before you can quit your job.
5. Set goals. How much money do you want to be earning by the end of the year? What type of revenue will allow you to feel comfortable leaving your current position? Setting some smaller, near-term goals will help you build up your confidence and momentum. Do you want to leave your full-time job within a couple of months? Within a couple of years? Goals will keep you motivated and moving forward, even when times get tough.
These five tips should help you get well on your way towards achieving the dream of running your own business. Are you currently working on a side business? Have you made the leap to working on your own business full time? I’d love to hear your tips and thoughts on the subject!
(photo credit: Ivan Walsh)