1. Decide if you want a business or side hustle
The very first thing you need to decide is whether or not you want to build a part-time business, or if you just want some extra cash. There is no shame in side hustling for extra income, but you need to make this distinction early so that you do not waste time and money working on the wrong things.
If you are not sure which of the two you want to pursue, here are some questions to ask yourself.
- How much do I want to make per month?
- Do I want to do this full-time one day?
- How many hours can I commit to this?
- How quickly can I walk away if I don’t want to do this anymore?
- Do I want to deal with legal structures and accounting?
2. Set Working Hours
One of the major challenges that you will run into when running a business part-time while working a full-time job is finding the time to dedicate to it. Talk to any entrepreneur who has left their job to run their business full-time, and they’ll tell you the one thing they needed more than the money, was the time.
In order to set your working hours, you need to know during what time during the day you are the most productive. When I was building my business, I used to work an hour in the morning before work, and about 3-4 hours after work. I was satisfied with my productivity at first.
But things changed when I decided to test waking up early. I found that I was much more productive in the mornings than I was working nights. Once I realized this, I began saving my evenings for other things, and dedicated most of my mornings to working on the business.
Although mornings before work are a great time to work, some people are natural night owls. Night owls are more productive working late nights. They seem to be more focused after their workday, and can complete tasks more efficiently before they go to bed for the evening.
3. Small is Big
There is no need to try to build a huge business right away. If you create a demanding schedule filled with insurmountable tasks, you are not going to stick to it. The enthusiasm will be there in the beginning, but will soon fade, and you will go back to binge watching Disney+ and Netflix in no time.
It will take a little time to learn how to handle the challenge of splitting your time and attention, so don’t feel rushed. Take little steps daily towards building your business, and your efforts will compound. There is no need to rush or to overdo it.
In a 1983 issue of the Harvard Business Review, Neil C. Churchill and Virginia L. Lewis published The Five Stages of Business Growth. That study, still highly relevant, can help small business owners with planning and control system implementation. It can also help them understand their path and anticipate possible challenges and issues found in each stage.
Here are the five stages:
- The First Stage – Existence
- The Second Stage – Survival
- The Third Stage – Success
- The Fourth Stage — Take-off
- The Fifth Stage — Resource Maturity
When running a business while working a full-time job, your business will most likely reside within the first two stages. You don’t need to focus on making a million dollars in revenue just yet. You just need to focus on existing and surviving. That can be done with small and consistent efforts.
4. Family matters
Even though you are spending time learning how to run a business, work-life balance is still something that you should strive to achieve. In the U.S., full-time working men spend 8.35 hours in the workplace, while women work 7.84 hours. And of the employed adults, 33 percent work on an average Saturday, Sunday, or holiday.
Recent Harvard research found that workplace stress may account for more than 120,000 deaths annually, and costs some $125 billion to $190 billion a year in healthcare spending. Because of this, it is important to take time for family, recreation, and relaxation.
If you have kids, spend time with them, and if you have a spouse, make sure that you spend quality time with him/her. Go for a walk, shop, cook, or just share a cup of coffee. It is important to be involved with the family, and if you do not, very soon you’d find yourself lost between two worlds: work and business. Finding the right balance for you will help keep you sane while running your business.
5. Be realistic
It is extremely important to be realistic about your actions, and goals. Do not make such a gigantic plan that it is almost impossible to accomplish. You may not be aware of your actual capability in the beginning, but set goals that you can accomplish, and then over-achieve your own goals.
It will build a lot of faith, keep the enthusiasm up, and your growth positive. None of us are Hercules, and it is important to know your limitations. Make small lists for daily, weekly, and monthly goals. This will not take more than 20 minutes for you to write, and can bring a sea change to your first steps as an entrepreneur.
6. Test the Waters
The challenge of working on a business while working is magnified by the fact that you have no idea whether the business will be a success. That is why it is best to test different business ideas without risking your life savings. Running a business can be risky and expensive.
Being an entrepreneur while working a full-time job is the best time to take risks and innovate. Because you are not solely relying on the income from your business, you have the freedom to test different strategies, products, and services to see which works best for you. During this stage of your entrepreneurial path, testing the waters now can help you succeed in the future.
7. Save most of your side income
When you begin to see some income coming in from your side business, it is tempting to take that money and go on a shopping spree. But before you load up your Amazon shopping cart, you may want to consider saving some of that income instead.
One of the reasons why saving your side income instead of spending it is a good idea is because your business may need that money to grow. As your business revenue increases, oftentimes your expenses will too. You may need to invest in marketing, advertising, or product development in the future. When you save your business income, you create a fund that you can access to invest back into your business.
Businesses often have seasons of slow or even negative growth. This means that you may have months when you are not making any money. Having income saved will help you continue to operate the business even when things are slow.
Another reason saving your side income is wise is if you choose to leave your job one day. Once you leave your job for entrepreneurship, you no longer have the security of a regular paycheck. Having money saved will help keep a roof over your head and food on the table if business slows.