There are three types of part-time businesses. The first is for people who want to work, but value flexible hours and the freedom to pursue other passions or spend time with their children.
The business will never be huge, but then it’s not meant to be. The second is run by people who have a specific skill or hobby that they can make money from, but there are financial or other constraints stopping them from launching the business full-time.
The third includes businesses that can be launched and run part-time, but the entrepreneur’s end goal is to be able to grow the business to a point where it is self-sustaining and he or she can resign and concentrate solely on the business.
Just like any start-up, this requires time, dedication and planning while still working full-time for another employer – and without jeopardising the job. It is also only a viable option for businesses that can be run both part-time and full-time.
Ideally, a part-time business looking to grow into a full-time business should be service-based, relying on the entrepreneur’s skills and drive rather than, for example, manufacturing products.
Weighing Your Options
Running a business while still being permanently employed can make good business sense.
An entrepreneur with a full-time job to fall back on has a safety net and is therefore under less pressure to make the venture succeed quickly. It also means that a few mistakes are not necessarily the end of the business.
Part-time businesses require less funding and the entrepreneur can often raise the necessary funds by diverting earnings from a full-time job. In addition, launching a part-time business with the aim of growing it into a full-time enterprise can be very rewarding. But, like any start-up, it is also incredibly hard work.
For a part-time entrepreneur who is also holding down a job, time is precious and scarce. But that doesn’t mean it can’t be done. Planning, hard work, doing something you are either very good at or love, and having an end goal can give shape to your venture.
It is also important to be patient. Tony Robbins, a US-based self-help author and success coach, says that once you have mastered time, you understand how true it is that most people overestimate what they can accomplish in a year – and underestimate what they can achieve in a decade.
Finding the balance between what can be achieved and how long it will take could result in a sustainable start-up that might take a bit longer to get off the ground – but is highly successful once it is.
Finding a Good Match
If you are looking to start a part-time business, ask yourself this question: what skills do you have that can be sold as a service? As long as it is a skill that people are willing to pay for, it can be the foundation of a great part-time – and then eventually – full-time, business.
Selling your services part-time enables you to eliminate risk by limiting your financial investment, as well as test the ‘start-up’ waters and make sure you do actually want to work for yourself.
Other advantages include a steady income, ongoing employee benefits and building your business over a longer period of time, which generally gives it a more stable foundation.
However, you and your business must be a good match. You may have an interest or experience in a specific business or service, but that doesn’t necessarily make it a good match.
James Stephenson, small business consultant and author of Ultimate Start-Up Directory, highlights these points when determining a good business match:
- Do you have the financial resources to start or purchase the business, and enough money to pay the day-to-day operating expenses until the business breaks even and is profitable? If not, it’s probably not a good match, and you should consider alternatives.
- Does the business have the potential to generate the income you need to pay your personal expenses, and does it also have the potential to generate the income you want to earn? This is very important because if you can’t pay your own bills, you’ll soon be in trouble. And if, over time, you can’t earn the income you want to earn, you’ll lose interest in the business – a recipe for disaster.
- Are you physically healthy enough to handle the strains of starting and running the business? If not, you may end up having to hire people for the job, which can be problematic if the business revenues aren’t sufficient to support both management and employee wages.
- Do you have experience in this type of business or service, and do you have any special skills that can be utilised in the business? You can gain experience and knowledge on the job but skills that can be used and capitalised upon right away are extremely valuable.
- Are there any special certificates or educational requirements to start and operate the business, and are these readily available? Find out the upfront costs associated with these, how they can be obtained, and the time frame needed to obtain specific certificates. Training and certification shouldn’t be viewed negatively because often the return on time and investment is substantially financially rewarding. Anything worth doing is worth doing well.
- Will you enjoy operating the business, and does it match your personality type and level of maturity? This is very important. If you don’t think that you would enjoy it, then don’t start. Again, the loss of interest in a business is almost certainly the kiss of death.
You can’t stay motivated and rise to new challenges if you don’t like what you’re doing.
Tips for Starting a Business Part-time
- Know what you want. Having a clear idea of your objective in starting a part-time business will help you decide what kind of business to start and how to run it.
- Pick something you enjoy doing. Much of the reward of part-time entrepreneurship may consist of the pleasure you gain from it, not the money, so make sure you like the work you’ll be engaged in.
- Pick something you know. If your business is related to a favourite hobby or professional sideline, you’ll have an extra edge because of your background or expertise in the field.
- Have a business plan. Even a part-time business needs a full-size business plan. In particular, be sure you’re able to describe a viable business model for generating profits.
- Be patient. When you can’t work at it all the time, your business idea will take longer to get under way and grow to maturity.
- Take care to separate your job, business and personal responsibilities. A part-time business can interfere with work and family relationships if you let it.
- Have an exit plan. Decide in advance when and how you’ll sell or get out of your part-time business. Otherwise, it could become a full-time burden.