Are you hoping to earn some extra cash in your spare time? You don’t need to quit your day job, immediately, to get started. Launching a part-time business is the first step towards fulfilling your dreams. However, for many aspiring entrepreneurs it seems easier said than done. So, we asked ten entrepreneurs, who have “been there, done that,” to share their best tips to starting a part-time business.
1. Fulfill a community need.
“My advice is to start a business that fulfills a need or a gap in services available, not necessarily what you desire. If there were already four coffee shops in the busiest parts of a small town, it probably wouldn’t be the best idea to open a fifth because there really isn’t a need. Ask friends, relatives, neighbors, students, business people what type of business they would like to see.”
2. Automate business operations.
“Use the lean startup approach. Build the basics (i.e., a website, basic digital marketing strategy, etc.) and automate the rest. [For example], Sprout Social for social networks, and virtual assistants for phone [call handling]. Generate systems that can work when you aren’t available. Then carve out time every day that you will give to your business whether it’s right after work or all weekend.
3. Wake up from your dreams.
“Start small and don’t think you need to create the next big thing. Take skills you already have or learn a new one and start offering [your products or services] to your existing connections. Don’t try to perfect your idea before testing it to see if people actually want to buy what you have to sell. You can build upon it and adjust as you go. The most important part is to start or you’ll be sitting on your dream for years to come.”
4. Perseverance is key.
“Starting a new business is hard and rarely takes off straight away (unless you’re really lucky!). It’s important to believe in what you’re doing and get through the early days where it all seems futile to get to the point where you see light at the end of the tunnel. This is particularly important when doing it part-time alongside another job, where your time is even more limited and you always have a safety net which makes it easy to give up and take the safe route out with your permanent job.”
5. Build influencer relationships.
“Making meaningful connections and aligning yourself [with] influential people is the most important aspect of breaking into an industry. Industry thought leaders understand what it takes to be successful and can provide a strategic roadmap for growing your business. Their specialized knowledge and guidance can provide invaluable insight.”
6. Manage your time well.
“To start a part-time business successfully, you need to be clear about how much time you will be able to dedicate to its operation upfront. Clarity around your services, a sustainable workload and adequate resources to sustain your part-time business will be paramount to you being successful. Lastly, a part-time business can require full-time effort on your part to get it off the ground.”
7. Find a business idea you already excel in.
“Make sure your new business idea is in a field that you are already good at! You will save yourself unnecessary and avoidable failure by doing so. If you really want the best shot at juggling your new endeavor alongside your current obligations, then your transition, and fit, will need to be as seamless as possible; thus, focusing on something you already know will help give you a competitive edge and a running head-start towards success.
8. Analyze your customer niche.
“Analyze your customer niche and focus your time on the avenues that will reach that niche – essentially giving you more bang for your marketing buck. You may have a great product, but that won’t yield business success unless you reach the target audience. [For example], we launched a campus rep program and have focused heavily on social media, as our customer niche is college-aged, and it’s proven successful — with over 50,000 hats sold last year.”
9. Treat it like a full-time business.
“Treat your part-time business as you would your full-time job. Put the same amount of hours per week (if not more) into your part-time business as you do into your full time job. Just as your direct manager holds you accountable for the quality of work at your employer, likewise, always hold yourself accountable for the quality of work you put into your own business. Don’t slack off simply because it is your own business and you don’t have much to lose if it fails. On the contrary, remind yourself that you have the opportunity of a lifetime to lose out on.”
10. Focus on excellence.
“Focus on quality! Unless it’s just a hobby, you are probably starting a part-time business to have greater life balance or because you have the intention to grow it into something full-time. In either case, you will need to ensure that you are ready to provide customers with an outstanding product or service… Regardless of why you are in business part-time, you will enjoy greater profits and longevity by starting from a place of excellence. Not perfection, but excellence!”
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