The Part Time Startup
September 21, 2012
What’s more exhilarating than jumping feet-first into a brand-new business idea and investing every waking hour into bringing it to life? For entrepreneurs, not much. The luxury of spending all that time on a new venture, however, is something few have at the very beginning.
“Starting a business doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to lay everything on the line right now, all at once,” writes the StartupNation blog. “Many entrepreneurs figure out how to hang the Open for Business sign on a part-time basis.”
For all the benefits of launching a part-time business while still maintaining a steady income elsewhere, it is certainly far from simple. Entrepreneurs who have made it work are those who have carefully managed — or juggled, rather — their time, revenues and commitment.
Prioritize Time Management
Time management is important for all business owners, but it is especially crucial for those who wear one professional hat by day and another on the side at night. What happens if you receive an urgent call from a customer when you’re in a meeting with your boss at your day job? How many interruptions during the workday can you handle? How patient can you expect your customers to be?
Because potential customers may not understand your schedule limitations, it’s important that they feel that you’re as available to them as possible, even if you’re not. This means creating and maintaining regular hours for your customers, and being faithfully available to them during that time.
Eric Markowitz explains for Inc.com how business owner Ed Gandia’s strict scheduling — including waking up earlier and going to bed later — made all the difference in launching his copywriting business:
“On Saturdays, he’d work from 6 a.m. until 12 p.m. so that he’d have time to spend with his family,” Markowitz writes. “Without precise scheduling, he says, the business would not have become nearly as successful.”
Markowitz was able to meet deadlines and respond to clients daily because of the regular time he set aside. He also recommends time management apps like Remember the Milk or virtual answering services to help manage tasks and phone calls while you’re focused on other commitments.
Squirrel Away Profits
It’s easy to think of your part-time startup as a new source of income right away, but if launching into a full-time business is your goal, the less you touch your profits, the better.
“At some point, you will want to walk away from your job and be a full-time entrepreneur,” writes Matthew Toren for Entrepreneur.com. ”The money you save now will enable you to take that step sooner. If you don’t need it to grow the business, then save it for your future, but be prepared to put it back into your new business as needed.”
Work Part-Time, Commit Full-Time
“Just because you’re starting a business part-time doesn’t mean you can make a half-hearted commitment to your venture,” the StartupNation blog says. “What it really means is that you’ve got to become dedicated to making a full-time impact on your new business in the limited hours available.”
Gwen Whiting and Lindsey Wieber shared with the blog the level of commitment that was necessary to get their cleaning products company off the ground. When the pair launched The Laundress while working corporate day jobs, they worked most evenings and weekends for months.
“We did our business plan on Memorial Day weekend, our financial projections on the Fourth of July,” Wieber told StartupNation, ”and on Columbus Day we were looking for a manufacturer at a trade show.”
Launching a company part-time while you’re still occupied elsewhere professionally is undoubtedly a challenge, but it sure is nice to be able to pay all your bills while your startup is just getting going as well.
How could you rearrange your full-time schedule so you could finally commit to that great idea of yours and turn it into a part-time startup?