One of the questions that are mostly asked concerns how to create a side business when you have a demanding job.
This is a major concern for the vast majority of people that are looking to create a side business.
Even though you might want to build a company on the side, whether it is to generate more monthly income, to do something you truly love, to freely manage your time and where to work from, or simply because you are sick of the daily grind, the fact is:
Most of us have bills to pay, and abandoning the salary at the end of the month is simply not a viable option.
I’ve written this essay to help you finding the answer to this doubt.
However, I’m sure you know that life is made of options, trade-offs. It is merely impossible to keep doing things in the same way and to expect different results.
So, to create a business of any kind, it will always require you to make some sacrifices.
But before we dive in, I’d like you to go through the following reasoning:
Think thoroughly about your life aspirations and ambition. Remember all you have been doing up to this point and if you have a life plan, it is probably the time to revisit it.
Talk to your family and friends about what you and them believe is paramount in life. And mostly, I’d recommend you close your eyes, breathe deeply and imagine you are eighty years old, and you’re looking back to the years gone by.
You don’t need to perform this exercise right now, do it another time when you have the availability if you prefer.
The main question you will want to see answered is the following:
How far are you willing to go to create a business?
Now, this might seem a quite simple question for such an in-depth reasoning, but, in fact, what we are trying to understand here is how much risk do you tolerate and how badly do you desire to manage your own business.
Because, according to your answer, you will be cataloged within one of the following groups of people:
Group I: The ones that in doubt will always secure their day job
These guys will continue to work hard at their full-time job because they cannot accept to reduce the quality of their work neither can conceive risking the salary they receive at the end of the month.
Group II: The ones that take some risk and are determined to create a business
These won’t resist the temptation of developing the side project during the working hours, and also don’t mind if everyone knows that they are creating a side business, even if it ultimately leads to a slight decrease in their performance.
Personally, I’ve always belonged to the second group.
But both options are absolutely viable!
Even if you’re securing your job above anything else, whether because you have bills to pay and a family to support, or frankly don’t want to embrace any risk, you will still manage to create your company and I will help with some rules of thumb.
Note: you cannot imagine how many times I’ve started over the writing of this essay until I found what was missing: this difference in approaches.
The options are entirely different; we cannot compare someone who needs to secure his day job with whom has barely nothing to lose and is only looking to work as hard as possible on their side project.
I just want you to have in consideration that the options demand different tactical recommendations, and for that reason, below you will initially see the pieces of advice to Group I and, secondly, the ones for people who belong to the Group II.
GROUP I: WHEN IN DOUBT, I WILL SECURE MY JOB
You work hard every single day on your day job, doing something that you slightly enjoy or actually dislike, but it is still vital to you. There are bills to pay at the end of the month, and your family depends on you.
Nevertheless, there is this project that will give you the chance to earn more income which will help to create an overall better quality of life for your family.
Also, it will ultimately provide you the opportunity to do something you love, to end the daily commuting and grinding, and to manage your time as you please.
During the week, you arrive home extremely exhausted because you won’t relax at your day job. Then you have to cook the dinner or attend to your children needs, and there’s no patience or whatsoever to advance with your side project; you’re even afraid that it will eventually be left aside forever.
So, what should you do?
- Share your plans with your closest ones
The first thing you need to do is to talk openly with your family and let them know that there is this project that is exciting you more than anything.
You want them to know that you won’t leave your job, because there are bills to pay. Also, you will keep working hard at your job to avoid any penalty of some kind from your supervisors. But, in return, you will need to work on weekends.
It is decisive that you ask for your family’s comprehension that you won’t be able to have so much time on weekends as they are used, for some months.
In fact, you will have to dedicate the whole weekend to the new business. Otherwise, it simply won’t be possible, unless you pay someone to develop the business for you.
It is critical that you earn their encouragement. Your family support will be crucial to keep your moral high when you’re investing extra hours into the project.
If you do not receive your family’s support, I’m afraid it might be a show stopper right there.
- Prioritize finding a business partner
If you’re already considering a partner to create the business, this might not be useful to you.
In this scenario, I’m specifically addressing people who don’t feel the need to find a partner, whether because the business is too simple for more than one, or requires a high degree of expertise, or because they’re afraid of working with someone that will entangle them instead of helping.
If you see yourself in any of these situations, allow me to tell you, first of all, that I understand all of your concerns. But because you decided that you’d only work at weekends, it is important to comprehend that you’ll have around 20 hours max per week.
So, it is possibly an excellent idea to increase the priority of finding a partner right from the start, so you can share with him half of the tasks and enhance the number of hours at least by two. There’s even a chance he will have more time than you, which would be great!
Anyway, recognizing that you will eventually get burned out by working alone is crucial. Having help can be a good way to secure the business will have the chance to see the daylight.
- Outsource everything you can
Outsourcing is not the same thing as finding a partner to help you.
Ultimately, if you have the resources, you could pay to have someone to work for you. It would only be a matter of finding the right guy.
But here we won’t be assuming that you have that type of resourcefulness.
My advice is that you look rigorously at your entire business plan – no, I don’t mean you need to create a 30-page document – and select specific areas that at a very low cost will profoundly impact your project’s pace.
Be incisive and smart: do not pay for everything.
Pay only for what you clearly see that will take you five or ten times more to get accomplished when you can cash-out a small amount of money and see it done in one day.
Maximize investment efficiency at all cost.
- Accept the fact that it might take longer
You know, no matter how much I want to add value and share a couple of secret sauces that will do the work for you, the fact is nothing worthwhile in life will come easily.
And I truly think the best way to help you is by letting you know, transparently, that it is OK if the project takes a little bit more time than what you wanted and expected.
It doesn’t mean you’ll be giving up in the middle, ok? It doesn’t mean you will be slow or anything like that.
It means you’ll be taking things in a sustained and consistent manner because you profoundly understand that momentum is everything and that a step each day is how things get done.
Regarding this matter, I think it makes perfect sense to share with you this fantastic lesson from John C. Maxwell: “The rule of 5”.
Go ahead and watch the video and if you don’t have time right now, make sure you save it to another occasion, as it can definitely change your life.
GROUP II: I’M DETERMINED TO CREATE A BUSINESS, NO MATTER WHAT
It doesn’t matter if you hate what you do on a daily basis or if it isn’t that bad. The point is: you know where you want to go, you know that creating a business is your next big step and nothing will stop you.
You would rather prefer to be laid off and have 100% of your time to develop this new project, than having to sit at your job for 12+ hours a day doing something you know will only bring you regrets in the future.
Usually, in this situation, you will also have less monthly charges. Your biggest problem is that, after all, you have a job and are in doubt whether you should go full blast for your new business or stick within the company and mitigate the risk.
Anyway, you feel it’s getting harder and harder to keep focused on your full-time job when you’re so excited about the side project. So, you cannot help yourself and start working on your side business during the daily working hours, because you actually believe that’s what really matters, and your focus on the full-time job is now reduced to a best-effort approach.
Finally, it is most likely that you see this side business as a significant opportunity to transform your lifestyle entirely; you’re not only in this for the extra money or a side labor of love.
If you feel like this is your group, then I’d recommend you the following steps:
- Develop a rigorous daily schedule
I’m not sure about this one because, at the end of the day, we’re all different and what works for me might not work for you. So I can only tell you what used to work for me.
To ensure you are maximizing the time you have to dedicate to your personal project, the first recommendation I’d share is to define a strict daily schedule.
You should be aiming at the following:
- Arrive earlier than your colleagues
When I was at my first corporate job, the vast majority of people would enter at 9h30/10h in the morning. Yes, it’s damn late, but somehow usual in Portugal. So, I decided to start coming at 9h. That way, I had one free hour, with no noise, to fully dedicate to my project.
- Have lunch earlier or later than everyone else
If you’re really excited about what you’re doing, you will want to use the lunch time to work on your new business. So if you have a quick snack before everyone else, you will have almost one hour free of noise to speed up things.
- Do not stay late, define an exit time and be consistent
I started leaving the company much earlier. Always around 18h15, I would abandon the building, so I had more time to work on my side business.
- Do not waste time on trivial stuff that gets you nowhere
Enough wasting time on the internet or chitchatting on a coffee break. Remember, now you are on a mission, and the fastest you launch your business, the sooner you will change your lifestyle.
Now, I don’t know about your country, but in Portugal, there’s a hideous growing trend that is leading people to work more and more hours. In many firms, it is still considered high professionalism and dedication to leave work at 20h or 21h, or even later.
So, to leave at 18h, you need to accept that you’ll unintentionally signal to your colleagues that you are no more willing to climb the fancy corporate stairs. This means that you deeply understand that you’ve taken an option.
Which brings us to the next point.
- Stand up to your goal and be ready to say NO.
One of the hardest things to many of us is clearly saying NO. However, few things are more important than that. When you notice, a significant part of your time might be sucked way by stuff that adds absolutely no value to your new project or whatsoever.
When you are creating a side business, and that’s where you’re focused, you will want to say NO to a lot of scenarios that arise on a daily basis.
Here’s a short list of some of the most crucial things to say NO:
- Say “NO” to coffee breaks when you don’t feel like taking a break
- Say “NO, I’m in the middle of something” when a colleague interrupts you just to chitchat
- Say “NO” to a colleague trying to get away with passing you some of his work
- Say “NO” to meetings where you add no value, especially the endless ones
- Say “NO” to staying in meetings more time than you need
- Say “NO” to your boss when he asks you to stay late more often than a singular occasion
- Say “NO” to investing hours in promoting yourself to climb the corporate stairs
You see, in most of the corporations, the employees are just entertaining themselves to make sure the time passes faster.
But you are different; you already decided not to accept that your life will be another empty pool like those guys that sit in a meeting room at 14h and make all they possibly can to leave by 18h, after a “quick and fruitful” chat.
Saying NO to all that crap you see every day is a critical step to gain more free time and mental focus to launch your side business successfully.
- Stop accepting all types of work
Another very common thing in the corporate world is to accept everything your supervisor demands from you. And while I know that sometimes you simply can’t and shouldn’t say NO, the reality is that there are ways to delegate work and gain more free time.
One of the ways you have to increase your time span to work on the side project is by relieving yourself from the tasks that are time-consuming and that can be done by someone else.
So, you want to delegate as much as possible. Take the time to access accurately where you’re investing your daily time and select the 80% of the regular junk that you must sweep just because you are an employee at that organization.
When you have these tasks selected, start being creative and think of ways to delegate them to someone else. Yes, I know, it is mean. In the first place I say you should refuse to help your colleagues with their work, but in the second hand, I’m telling you to do precisely the same.
Yes, I know it sounds ruthless by me, but hey! you’re trying to create something here, which can ultimately lead to job employment and helping your country’s economy. 😉
Everyone has their reasons to delegate work, and we are not special.
Now, if you ask me, this is the type of circumstance in which you can be smart. Make sure you don’t upset your colleagues, of course, but think of clever ways to delegate the work, either by telling them that you’re very busy with another project or mentioning that they are the most capable ones to get it done. Something like that.
Do not be mean, but be clever.
And besides, you don’t depend solely on delegating to other colleagues. If you have some cash available, you can actually hire a virtual assistant to help you with things that he can do, even without being part of your firm and, naturally, without breaking any legal rights – remember to pay attention to that.
- Explore ways to work remotely
From the moment you decide it is time to give all you have to creating your new venture, you want to aim at operating in burst or batch process mode.
This means that you will do your best to concentrate all your day job’s tasks in a small stake of the week time span.
However, this becomes harder to do when you are sitting near to your boss every day. You’re always worried that he might have an angle on your PC or that your colleagues realize that you’re working on your personal project instead of what you’re rightfully paid to do.
So you might find useful to explore ways to work remotely. Technology nowadays allows you to have a close to perfect experience in working remotely. You can even perform all types of meetings through Appear.in or Skype, in an easy way that was never possible before.
Working from home would allow you to organize your time as you please, what would be a tremendous way to speed up the business creation.
Now, if you want to dive in a bit more on this topic, I’d like to recommend that you read Ramit Sethi’s guide on Working From Home. In this handbook, Ramit gives you some examples of how you can negotiate to work remotely, even when your company has never allowed it before.
Give it a check.
So, what do Group I and Group II have in common?
Connections and marketing!
Yes, these are the standard benefits and opportunities you have from working at a company, while you create a side business, and that you should definitely be exploiting.
Number one: connections
It is much easier to establish connections through your company’s network or within the own firm. I’m sure that there are some particularities about your business that will demand you to access a single type of information or finding a different supplier, and an excellent way to find those connections is, indeed, by reaching out to people within your current company.
Sometimes all you need is to start asking your colleagues for information.
However, many of us are afraid of asking people for information, whether because we don’t want to reveal our business idea, or because we don’t want to pass the image that we’re working on our personal project during the day time.
And I get that.
But if you manage to overcome these two barriers by being very selective on the people with whom you talk, you can benefit immensely from your company’s network.
That colleague you’ve met for the past ten years can be the one who has a wife that knows somebody that has a company producing the exact raw material that you need.
Number two: marketing
I always recommend that you openly share your business project with as much people as possible. Fearing that an idea might be stolen is, in my humble opinion, shortsighted.
Besides, it would mean that you believe a business can be done simply through a good idea, which is entirely nonsense.
Now, if you tell me you’re scared that your boss might fire you because you’re creating a business, that’s another different issue. I don’t see it happening, to be honest, but there are all sorts of unexpected behaviors around the world.
So, I would warn you to be selective when talking to your colleagues about your business. Obviously, the current status of the company can also impact the freedom you have to talk about this subject.
For instance, I was at a corporation that was going through such a bad period that everyone would encourage you to find another job or to create a side business.
But in most companies, that’s not the case. Employees are happyish, and there are a lot of corporate gossips, so you want to go with caution.
Anyway, try to share your idea with as many people as possible, preferably with people from your target market, if it is viable.
I’d recommend you read this post about why keeping your idea in secrecy might be a terrible mistake. It will help you understanding how you can highly benefit by getting people involved with your business.
ACTION POINT: WHERE DO YOU STAND?
At the end of the day, I want to reiterate the importance of clearly understanding if you belong to Group I or Group II.
There’s not a right group. Both of them work perfectly fine to get your business on the rails, but as you can see, there are different approaches for each option.
Clearly, if you feel there’s much at stake, you should be pursuing a more conservative, sustained and secret approach, perhaps spending some capital in outsourcing the development of your business, because, after all, you cannot lose your job and who knows if this new project will ever be successful.
On the other hand, if you are younger, have no responsibilities or feel that you’re sick of the daily grinding of the corporate world, you can take more risks, and you can find ways to optimize your agenda to free up more time for your own business.
Now, the question is:
How far are you willing to go to create a business?
Remember to go through the reasoning we’ve mentioned above and talk with the ones that are important to you so you can better grasp where do you stand.