December 14th, 2012
If you’ve thought about starting a small business on the side whether for additional income or to eventually take over your current income, some planning ahead will make the process a lot easier.
The first thing you need to evaluate is how much time each week you will honestly have to spend on the business. If you’re a full time mom with small children, will you need to only work in the evenings or will you be able to have the kids in a babysitting or daycare arrangement when you work? And if you’re a full time employee, will you be able to shift your hours from 9-5 to 7-3 in order to have time in the afternoon to work?
The more honest you can be about your particular circumstances, the better your chance at success. Your friend may have pitched an easy to run business that only takes 5 hours a week, and you have dreams of vacations in Hawaii twice a year. And these dreams are essential to get you through the rough patches when running your own business. However, when starting up anything, it takes more time and effort then when you have an established business.
The best thing to do is track your time for a week or two and look for areas where you could be working on your business (say, instead of playing words with friends).
The second thing you need to do is look in the mirror and ask yourself honestly if you want to be a business owner. You will now be responsible for accounting, bookkeeping, taxes, etc. and need to do strict record keeping. You will be the one who does all of the work, at least at first.
Also, if you’re investing in a franchise, and believe it will run itself if you can hire a great manager and employees, think again. You will be the one people call when people don’t show up to work, or when someone gets annoyed and quits. And chances are, you will be the one who has to get there early to open up, or stay late to close. These types of businesses need a full time owner.
The types of businesses can be service based, product based, or a combination.
Often, multi-level marketing (MLM) have both products to sell, and they encourage you to recruit friends, which is like a service. These are often called “network marketing” as well since you’re encouraged to sell to family and friends (your network). Examples are Shaklee, Mary Kay, Amway, Tupperware and Avon. These can be a very good first business because they teach you presentation and sales skills.
“Sales skills?” Yes. You wouldn’t be invited to a swanky party, walk in and say “Hey, who wants to buy some great foundation!” Good MLMs teach how to build up a relationship and consult rather than sell. It’s also useful to learn how to hear the words “No, thank you,” and have it be OK. If you own a business, those words happen frequently.
The best way to handle that is to think of a waitstaff in a restaurant offering coffee to everyone at the table. They don’t get hurt or upset if someone wants the coffee. And maybe the person will want coffee later. And if never, that’s OK too. There are a lot of people out there that do want coffee.
For more ideas:
If you intend to freelance in your current line of work, make certain that you don’t violate any non-compete agreements with your current company. That could limit who you pitch your work to. However, what you do outside of work is your own decision as long as it doesn’t interfere with your performance. Keep providing stellar work, and don’t feel the need to apologize or ask permission.
Freelancing part time can be a great way of transitioning into a new position as well. In some companies, unfortunately, it’s difficult to make lateral moves. When you freelance part time and build up a portfolio, it will give you confidence if you decide to change companies when you change career paths.
In future posts, we’ll talk about business structures, business and marketing plans, and time management.
What else would you like us to explore for you?