9 Steps to Starting a Small Business While Working a Full-Time Job
As the economy improves, people all over the nation are thinking about taking a step toward financial freedom by starting a business. But for many, the thought of leaving their full-time job—along with the salary, benefits, health insurance, and stability—prevent them from pursuing their dreams.
But what if I told you that it’s possible to pursue the dream of starting a small business while keeping your full-time job?
It’s true. Commonly known as the side hustle economy, this method of starting a business has overtaken the world.
And rightfully so. Study after study shows that only way to build real wealth is to work for yourself, and starting a business is the only way to do that.
But not everyone understands how to start a business while working a full-time job. In this post, I’d like to give you a brief overview of how to do it. The topic is huge, and there is a lot to know, which is why it’s the subject of my next book.
But for now, I’d like to give you a brief outline of how to start a business while working a full-time job.
1. Mentally Prepare for the Challenge
Starting a business is fun, but most would-be entrepreneurs don’t quite realize the amount of time and sacrifice that it takes to make it successful. And when you’re working a full-time job while starting a business, things can get a little tricky. In any business, you will need to devote all of your time and energy to the business for a minimum of two years in order to get it off the ground. And when you’re also working a full-time job that can easily mean 60 or 70 hour work weeks.
You’ll need to analyze your current life and determine if there are any areas you can cut back on to enable you to spend that kind of time growing your business. Use lists, talk to the people who know you, and create daily schedules to determine whether or not you really have the time to devote to a growing a business.
2. Analyze Yourself
In addition to mentally preparing for the journey, you should also assess your personality, traits, and skills to ensure that you’re cut out for the challenge.
You’ll need to have a strong work ethic, fierce determination, and financial and marketing skills—along with a whole lot of other traits and skills—to make your business a success.
For example, it’s a good idea to list every skill you’ll need to run your business and then compare that list to the skills you already possess. Do the same thing for the personality traits you’ll need to grow your business to a successful one.
Be sure to read The 30-Day Work from Home Challenge: Do You Have What it Takes to Be Your Own Boss? to learn how to take stock of yourself before launching—and how to rectify any weaknesses that you identify before you open the doors.
3. Start Brainstorming
After you’ve mentally prepared yourself for the challenge and carefully analyzed your personality traits and skills, it’s time to do some brainstorming to determine which type of business is right for you.
You may already have one in mind, and if you do that’s fine—you’ll be able to validate it in a future step—but if you don’t yet know what kind of business you want to start, you’ll need to spend some time thinking about your skills, knowledge, and how you can use them to bring something special to consumers.
4. Validate Your Business Idea
Did you know that most of today’s small businesses fail because there wasn’t a market for their product or service? It’s true. Most new business owners believe that the product or service they plan to offer to the public will fill a great need, but unfortunately, most of them don’t take the time to validate it before launching—and that leads to a significant amount of business closures.
Instead, you should validate your business idea before ever opening your doors. I outline this process in detail in my 30-Day challenge book mentioned above. (It’s an entire chapter and way too in-depth to cover in a blog post.) This is perhaps one of the most important steps in starting a new business.
5. Identify Your Secret Sauce
Hundreds of thousands of new businesses are started every month in the United States, and what separates the successful ones from the failures is the secret sauce. A secret sauce is what sets a business apart from its competition.
For instance, if you plan to open a plumbing business in your city, you’ll need to first research the other plumbing companies and identify what is lacking. Is it customer service? Price? A response to emergency calls? Whatever is lacking in the current plumbing businesses is what should make up your secret sauce.
Every business is different and you will have to conduct some serious competitor analysis research to determine the secret sauce for your business.
6. Set Some Goals
Next, you’ll need to identify your short-term and long-term goals. Many people set broad, general goals, but if you want to stay on track, you’ll need to get specific. For example, selling a lot of product isn’t a specific goal, but meeting a breakeven point 6 months into the business is.
You should set daily, weekly, monthly, yearly goals as well as goals for 2, 5, and even 10 years out.
7. Create a Roadmap
There are some business “gurus” out there telling people that in today’s economy, entrepreneurs don’t need a business plan—I beg to differ. While not every business owner needs to develop a 10 page business plan, every one of them does need to have some sort of business plan, even if you’re only opening an online store or starting a blog.
A business plan does two things. First, it helps you see your business idea from a different perspective. It allows you identify things you need to keep a watchful eye on as your business begins to grow, and it helps you set realistic goals and milestones. Secondly, it gives you a guide of sorts that helps you know how your business is doing as it grows.
I can’t think of any type of business that wouldn’t benefit from that.
While it’s true that many of today’s entrepreneurs won’t need to pitch a bank for startup funds, especially when starting out as a side hustle, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t give your business every chance to succeed, and a business plan is the foundation of that.
Depending on the size of your business and the investment you plan to make, you can either create an elaborate business plan, or for small, less complicated businesses, use the free 1 page business plan at Bplans.com.
8. Launch..Sort of
Now that you’ve analyzed your strengths and weaknesses, validated your business idea, found your secret sauce, set some goals, and created your roadmap in the form of a business plan, you’re ready to launch. Sort of.
Because you still have a full-time job, you’ll need to launch differently than other full-time business owners. You’ll have to do what’s called a soft launch.
During a soft launch, you’ll let people know about your business, but because you can’t devote 100 percent of your time to it, you’ll need to do it gradually and then build up.
This slow boil method of building a business has a few advantages. First, it will allow you to identify any flaws or weaknesses in your business model early on. Next, it will allow you to build a strong foundation of repeat customers—if that’s your business model—because you won’t be able to take on a lot of new business all at once.
9. Quit Your Day Job
As time goes by, you’ll be able to commit more and more of your time to your business. And as you do this, your side hustle will begin to grow into a sustainable business.
People who open small businesses as side hustles typically have a goal to quit their job once they are earning enough money to pay their personal and business bills. But that process can take some time. You’ll use a combination of goal-setting and business planning to determine the right time for you.
Don’t forget, the key to starting a business while working a full-time job is preparation and planning. Be sure to follow me on Amazon to get word of my upcoming book on the topic, or visit me at RainMakerPress.com and subscribe to my email list. My readers always get first notice of when I’m about to release a new book.