Unless you're already running your own company, chances are you've considered starting a venture in your "spare" time. Keep these steps in mind if you decide to make your dream a reality.
"Don't quit your day job." Budding entrepreneurs see this advice as a direct affront to their dreams of creating their own business. But starting a business while continuing to work at a full time job offers numerous advantages, not least of which is the security of a regular paycheck and benefits while you get your business up and running.
Whether you're looking just to generate some extra income or you plan to transition your part-time business into full-time employment, here are a few tips to keep in mind.
- Make a plan. Every entrepreneurial venture begins with a business plan. In addition to defining your product or service, your markets and financials, a plan for a side business should also include a time management schedule that takes into account your full-time job, personal interests and your family as well as the new business. If you plan to leave your job eventually, establish milestones for time, revenue or other metrics, and track your progress against them.
- Create a budget. If your goal is to simply increase your current income, you'll need to set aside enough money to fund your part-time business and related expenses. But if you plan to grow your sideline business into a full-fledged company, plan to pour the revenue you generate back into the business and also identify sources of outside funding. Reducing your personal debt load will also improve your creditworthiness for business financing, so set up a plan to pay down current credit cards and loans.
- Set boundaries. Unless your current full-time job is your own business, avoid mingling your day and night jobs. Make it clear to your new customers when you're available and when you're not. Consider a virtual answering service or unified communication service such as Google Voice to handle calls and e-mails when you're "out of the office." Review potential conflicts of interest created by your new enterprise. And be upfront about your new business with your current employer.
- Build your network. Implement a networking strategy both to increase your customer base and to replace the back-office resources you take for granted in your full-time job. Also, take advantage of contacts in your new industry for advice, mentoring and benchmarking.
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