Part-Time Entrepreneurship: Why & How
Frankly, as the writer of this piece bluntly states, there are way too many articles about “Following your dreams” and not enough written about the value of everyday hard work. The article struck a proverbial chord, but not because I don’t believe in following one’s dream. Rather, it seems as if the writers offering this advice are too often financially affluent enough to have plenty to fall back on, should their vision fall through—as it often can.
There are too many articles about entrepreneurship out there saying the same thing:
- leap and the bridge will appear;
- follow your passion and stop going through the motions;
- travel the world doing what you love!
Starting your business
This is why, if you’re looking to start your own business, I recommend starting it on the side, as opposed to quitting your job and hoping the proverbial net will appear. There are a few advantages to keeping your full-time job while you are establishing the basis of a new entrepreneurial venture. One obvious advantage is financial peace-of-mind. Another is a more relaxed timeline and less pressure to have your business ready by a prescribed date. You will have more flexibility in creating a plan if you haven’t put all your eggs into one basket.
Have a business plan
Developing a clear business plan and devoting a good chunk of time to research and networking are essential components that should go into your part-time business, while it is still in its early stages. If you conduct careful research into the market you intend to enter into, you will have time to identify a few key niches that your competitors have left untapped, as of yet. It can also give you valuable preparation in terms of providing models of different ways to conduct marketing or bookkeeping, for example.
Keeping a full-time job while getting your business up and running can prevent a great deal of unnecessary financially-related stress. It allows enough breathing room to be able to take small steps and plan your work carefully, as opposed to making an ill-informed decision due to time pressures. Approaching a new business venture patiently ensures that the risk factor will be minimized. If you go slowly, you won’t feel pressured into taking big steps that are more likely to go wrong, due to their risky nature.
Make good connections
Because there is a large market for business and entrepreneur-related books and advice blogs, there are a number of self-proclaimed gurus and know-it-alls whose advice you should make a note to ignore. Instead of talking heads who claim to have a solution for all your business-related problems, attempt to connect with business people in your field of specialty who have proven themselves to be effective leaders. Moreover, seek out a few different people so as to benefit from a variety of well-earned perspectives about your industry.
Business mentors are an invaluable source of wisdom that can come in various forms: advice from a family member; insights from experienced entrepreneurs at think tanks or business incubators; or observations from investors during your seed round of funding. Lisa Quast goes into greater detail about specific benefits of becoming a mentor here. They include a better understanding the business and how people perceive you, the creation of a larger network, helping to solve issues, and personal satisfaction.
Quast also cites a Sun Microsystems study that compared the career progress of approximately 1,000 employees over a five-year period; they found that both mentors and mentees were 20% more likely, on average, to get a raise than people who did not participate in the mentoring program; they also found that employees who received mentoring were promoted five times more often than people without mentors. Clearly, mentorship—for both mentors and mentees—is hugely beneficial. This benefit is also likely connected to the importance of self-knowledge and the tracking of one’s progress in the improvement process, as education studies have shown.
Keeping your full-time job
Brandon Turner recently wrote an article about the possibilities available to people who start a business while keeping their full-time job. One of the points he makes is that we should think of our day jobs as blessings, since they afford us the time to perfect our business, rather than spending all our time raising the money necessary to fund a business.
Turner also emphasizes the importance of maximizing our time, rather than wasting it by staring at Netflix movies and our smartphones. This comes down, also, to being more efficient: not only must we cut out unnecessary habits; we must also find ways to maximize the time we spend on our business endeavor. It can mean something as simple as outsourcing tasks that may be performed by someone else, such as bookkeeping or data entry.
Having a passion for your business
Remember too, the reasons why you decided to start your part-time business. It’s very likely, I’m willing to bet, that your side business is connected to a passion of yours. Catharina Bruns, Founder of WorkIsNotaJob, speaks of this: “Empower yourself and realize the importance of contributing to the world by living your talent. Work on what you love. You are responsible for the talent that has been entrusted to you.” Of course, there is more than one way to get to the end goal of turning your passion into a full-time business. It’s partially just the decision to have faith in your talents and abilities enough to give your spare time over to nurturing them, rather than allowing them to fall by the wayside.
Realize your limitations
Neil Patel has some encouraging words for potential part-time entrepreneurs. One piece of advice he makes quite clearly is that it is important to realize your limitations: don’t work harder than is feasible, or you will be at risk of burnout; therefore, as a result of being human, you’ll need help—so don’t go it alone. Recruit friends and family, and don’t eliminate the possibility of a co-founder to help share the responsibility of starting a new business.
Patel also stresses the importance of treating your part-time venture as a ‘side hustle.’ Rather, envision it as a growing, thriving business, with you in the role of CEO. If you treat it as you would a typical job, with a schedule and a plan, it’s more likely to become a full-time business sooner, rather than later.
So remember your passions, find a mentor, and be encouraged: it’s better to have tried and failed, after all, then never to have tried at all. As Patel urges, don’t give in to fear of risk. Go all in and abandon your comfort zone, so that, eventually, you’ll be able to pursue your business full-time.
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