Juggling your own business while working 9-5 can be tough, but there is a way.
We asked Anna Martyn, career coach and founder of Careers By Design, for her advice on the different things you need to do and consider when running a business on the side.
How do you start a business while working?
You will need to introduce a second shift into your life. The second shift is the work you will do after hours to start working on building your business, eg setting up systems and putting your strategy in place. You can catch up on emails, schedule appointments, attend networking functions and build your customer base. Weekends are also an excellent time to schedule appointments – scout for premises and products and source staff and a support system.
It is imperative that you do not use your current work place and work resources to set up your business or conduct personal business – if you’re caught, this could result in dismissal. Use your lunch time – away from your workstation and prying eyes and ears to return calls or get that extra bit of work done. Do not jeopardise your existing pay checque if you need it – rather focus on managing your time after hours and building your business discreetly and professionally.
How do you balance the two and make time for your business while still being a valuable employee?
Easy – mentally separate the two. When at work, focus on giving your job 110% of your time and skills. When at home or away from work, give 110% of your time to building and establishing your brand.
You will need to sacrifice your social life initially while you focus on building your business after hours, and this may include neglecting friends and family.
Do not blur the boundaries between your job and your business. Give both your full attention and manage your time efficiently.
When is the right time to leave your job to focus on your business?
When you are sure that your business can sustain you, pay you a salary (that you are accustomed to earning) and cover your business operating costs. You will need to have clients lined up, contracts signed, projects to work on or systems set up so that you already have revenue streams coming in. You will need to ensure that you have at least six months to one year’s worth of rainy-day savings to draw on in case of negative cash flow months and to cover your monthly expenses. Without a safety net of savings, you will be living in constant stress and worry over lack of funding.
When it is time to resign, give the appropriate notice period, treat your boss and colleagues with the utmost respect and leave on a high – you need these people as a reference long term, you need the good energy of their well wishes and most importantly, you need them in your network for future business opportunities. They could be your clients one day or refer clients to you.
How do you ensure your business is sustainable?
• You need to know the business you are going into: you need to be an expert in the services you are proving or the product you are selling. You need to be passionate about your business and customers and vision.
• Planning is everything. Ensure your business plan is solid (engage the services or a professional business coach if you need the expertise) and ensure that you have customers in place who will pay you for your services or buy your product. Ensure that you have built a solid and professional reputation for yourself and your business and that you have a solid marketing strategy.
• Treat everyone you meet as a person who may have an opportunity for you. Network like crazy, get out there and market your business to the correct target audience.
• Be open to new opportunities and always be willing to go the extra mile for your customers – they are your biggest promoters when made happy.
• Always follow up on leads and ensure that service delivery and follow up service is excellent.
• Get client referrals and references to use as a selling point.
• Hire the right people to be in your team, treat them well and ensure they deliver what you require from them.
• Take care of your expenses and cash flow.
• Diversify your service or product offerings and always improve and stay on top of your market. Watch your competitors and be a step ahead.