How to Make Your Side Business a Success

March 15, 2013

business man walking up hillA lot of people have – or would like to have – a side business to make some extra money. The prospect of turning it into a full-time venture is always there, but not everyone wants to quit their day job to become a full-time entrepreneur. If that’s what you want to do, what can you do to make your side business a success?

1. Be sure to treat it like a business, and not a hobby.

Since the business will be a side venture, it can be very easy to treat it like a hobby rather than as a serious moneymaking effort. By itself, this is probably the number one reason why so many side businesses are not successful.

In order to make the business work, you’ll have to put at least as much effort into it as you are doing on your primary job. On your regular job, you probably have coworkers and supervisors sharing the responsibilities with you. With your own business, you will most likely be the entire staff. That is to say, nothing in your business will happen without your effort.

Take those efforts very seriously, and especially when you’re first starting your business.

2. Get help when you need it.

Since most new business ventures start with the owner flying solo, it’s very easy to get snowed under early in the process. The way around that is to get help whenever you need it. Fortunately, there are various ways to do this, and which one you choose will depend on the circumstances you’re dealing with.

Networking

This is the process of linking yourself with similar and related businesses. The point of it is to create a web of contacts that you can fall back on for either advice or direct support when needed. Establish a network when you first start your business, and be prepared to rely on it as often as needed. Just remember that you will need to be ready to help when others in the network come calling on you.

Partnering

There are two ways to do this. You can either bring in a partner who will share both responsibilities and profits with you, or you can find someone to partner with to handle just one aspect of the business.

Subcontractors

There may be one or more functions in your business that you simply lack time or expertise to deal with. You probably can’t afford a hire full-time staff, but you can work with subcontractors to handle the problem area. You can, for example, use a subcontractor to manage your website.

Virtual Assistants (VAs)

VAs work best with simple, repetitive jobs. You might hire a VA to respond to emails, prepare and send correspondence, proofread, or even handle billing. These are people who you hire when the work is getting too heavy for you to handle, but you’re not in a financial position to hire an employee.

3. Keep it separate from your day job.

One of the challenges in having two income earning ventures operating at the same time is the possibility that one can interfere with the other. For example, if you have a high stress full-time job, that stress can spill over into your side business. You may find yourself with a shortage of time, an excess of stress, or combination of both.

Likewise, you never want to let your side business interfere with your primary job. If you spend time on your job handling emails or faxes that are related to your business, not only will you risk not completing the work on your job, but you could also face disciplinary action.

Be sure to set specific time parameters for your business. If you get home from work at 6 PM, give yourself an hour or so to decompress from the job, then work on your business from say, 7 PM to 10 or 11 PM. During this time you have to discipline yourself to focus completely on your business, and block out everything that happened at your day job.

4. Make sure your family is on board.

Since you will be juggling a full-time job and a part-time business, it’s vitally important that your family fully understand what you are doing and how it will benefit them. If not, they may rebel and sabotage your side business.

Be sure to be specific about the time and effort you’ll be needing to put into your business, allowing for the fact that there may be periods when you’re spending even more time. But also be careful to spell out how your family will benefit from what you are doing. For example, the benefit of your side business could be that your family will take a more exciting vacation this year, or it could mean that you will soon be buying a new car.

Your family will be making sacrifices in order to allow you to have your side business, so be sure that there is some sort of payoff in there for them too.

5. Always grow your business – don’t try to buy it.

There is sometimes a temptation by the newly self-employed to buy an existing business so as to avoid a lengthy ramp-up period. There are at least two problems with this idea. The first is the capital that will be required to purchase the business, and the second is the fact that it may immediately require a heavy schedule on your part.

Still another issue is that it’s one thing to buy a business, but quite another to grow it. And if you can’t grow it, the likelihood of failure is considerably higher.

It’s not just about the capital that you preserve when you start your own business rather than buying one. It’s also about the critical experience that you gain from starting and growing your own business from the ground up. If you can make that happen, then you will have acquired the most important business skill you could possibly have.

6. Use the Internet as much as possible.

The Internet may very well be the single best tool available to the self-employed. For that reason, you should plan on using it as much as you can. In fact, anytime you need to do something – especially something new – your first option be a search on the web.

You can get nearly any kind of information that you need to run your business on the web, and it’s also a very easy place to study other businesses. You can find out a lot about your competitors simply by doing detailed reviews of their websites.

You can also get access to any products, services or people that you need, and usually do so in a matter of minutes. Since you’ll be running your business on a part-time basis, you need to use this advantage for all it’s worth.

What other recommendations would you make to someone who’s trying to juggle a side business with full-time job? Leave a comment!

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Kevin

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Kevin
Kevin Mercadante is professional personal finance blogger, and the owner of his own personal finance blog, OutOfYourRut.com. He has backgrounds in both accounting and the mortgage industry. He lives in Atlanta with his wife and two teenage kids and can be followed on Twitter at @OutOfYourRut.

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