Starting a Side Business While Employed: Tips and Tricks
Joey McDowell is an experienced writer and editor originally from the Dallas area. A firm believer in a well-balanced lifestyle, Joey applies this forward-thinking approach as the editor-in-chief of The Idea Trader. He travels extensively to find compelling stories and insightful individuals.
The Sky’s the Limit
Coming up with a great idea for a new business doesn’t always happen at the most opportune times.
You may one day find yourself developing a viable business idea while still working with a larger company. If so, it doesn’t mean that you have to abandon the idea completely.
But starting a side business while employed requires a lot of time, attention, and careful consideration.
That’s why we’ve compiled a list of things to keep in mind when thinking about how to expand your income with a side business while maintaining a full-time job.
Analyze Your Business Plan
Before you sink a significant amount of your free time into a new side business, it’s important to put your business plan under a microscope.
And that means that you’ll need to be your own harshest critic for a while.
You’ll need to do everything in your power to make sure that your business plan won’t require an outsize amount of financial investment.
The idea will likely require an investment of some kind. Make sure that your personal finances allow for this investment while still allowing you to pay your bills each month and still have funds left over for emergency purposes.
Gather Your Expertise
When you’ve been involved in the planning stages of a brand new side business, it can be easy to lose track of the reality of the situation.
In other words, your lofty ambitions may be distracting you from faults on your business plan.
That’s why it would be advisable to do sufficient research before starting a side business while employed.
Try to find individuals who work in the industry you’re looking to enter.
Explain the basics of your side business so that they can offer any relevant advice and criticism.
Their advice will prove to be invaluable over time, and you may find that your idea needed more work before being put into practice.
How Much Time Will it Take?
If you plan to make your new side business your main source of income in the future, then you’ll need to commit almost all of your free time to the business to get it going.
It could be years before your business starts producing any significant profits.
You’ll need to come to terms with how much time and effort your new side business will require.
Sit down and make some simple calculations as to how long simple tasks for your side business will require.
Then estimate how many times you’ll need to repeat those specific tasks during any given week.
Can you commit at least that much time each week to your new side business? Or will it leave you with very little time to sleep, eat, and relax?
This is another stage of the process where it’s very important to be as honest with yourself as possible.
If you think you’ll be able to sidestep many other obligations in order to work on your business, then you have a much better chance of helping that business develop to a point where it can one day be self-sustaining.
But if you find yourself repeatedly failing to complete necessary tasks, either for your main job or your side business, then you may need to reconsider your plan.
It’s also important to allot time for maintaining your personal relationships with family and friends.
In particular, if you have a significant other at the time, you should speak with them ahead of time about how often you’ll need to work on your new business.
Assemble a Team (If Necessary)
Once your side business has started to bring in some money, that’s when you can start to think about hiring other employees to help out.
But hiring employees also means that you’ll need a consistent revenue stream so that you can guarantee your employee(s) will get paid on time and in the correct amount.
Hiring employees too early on in the process can result in an inability to pay them or a lack of funds to run the business itself.
Maintain Job Performance
Regardless of how well you think your new side business will perform, you still need to primarily dedicate your time and attention to your main full-time job.
This is not only respectful to your current company, but it also serves as a practical means of maintaining your own financial security until your new business can really get off the ground.
Make sure to complete all tasks for your main job first, even if it requires you to cut into your free time and evenings.
Perhaps most important is the need to save up as much money as you can before leaving your main full-time job for good.
Countless entrepreneurs have made the mistake of putting too much faith in their own businesses only to find that their business model had serious faults or that the market they were expecting simply isn’t there.
Learn from their mistakes. Give your new business plenty of time to grow, possibly even for a few years.
Over time you’ll get a much better sense of what works and what doesn’t and how much you can rely on your given market.
Finally, when you find yourself in a position where your main job is satisfied with your performance and your side business is bringing in large amounts of money, then it’s time for the final step.
This is the point where you can approach your boss at your main full-time job and explain your situation.
Make the conversation respectful, first and foremost. Explain that you’ve been working on your own side business for a while and that it’s been performing well recently.
Discuss the possibility of working part-time at their company while dedicating the bulk of your time to your own company.
If this arrangement simply isn’t a possibility, then ask to resign your current position. Policies vary from company to company, but many will require you to work at least another two weeks before leaving.
This is mainly so that the company can have sufficient time to find a new employee to fill the role and train them to take over.
You may even be asked to help with the training process.