For a long time I dreamed of starting my own business, and I’m sure there are many of you out there who feel the same way.
So what is stopping most of us from realising this ambition? A family to support, bills to pay, the complexities of daily life – quitting your nine to five to pursue a dream can seem like a big gamble.
But there is another way my friends. If you have the determination to succeed, save money, and organise your time effectively, you can start a business while working full time. This is exactly what I have done and it has been incredibly satisfying. Not only are the financial risks severely diminished, but I’ve had greater freedom to experiment and take risks.
So enough preaching, on to the good stuff. I’ve been on a quest to find some top tips from business owners and experts, who perhaps like yourselves someday, started selling their wares while working full time.
1. Get support – work as a team
Taking on a huge task yourself can be daunting, overwhelming, and just downright impossible. But when I first started out I was lucky enough to have a friend to work with.
In my own experience, not only did this lessen the burden, but it also made the process so much more fun. While your ultimate ambition may be to fly solo, if you want to build a successful start-up without quitting your existing job, you’re going to need support.
“It’s difficult to start a business on your own,” said Anees Ikrahmullah, owner of a small start-up called Centre Spot Events. “Having the help of a friends makes it easier to get stuff done. Just be careful who you work with though – I’ve seen failed businesses ruin friendships before.”
Alternatively, you could find a mentor or enlist the help of volunteers. Offering a few close friends free pizza and beers for an afternoon of their help is not such a big request, and can be great bonding. I find most of the time your buddies are willing to help.
2. Make the most of the internet
There are a tremendous amount of free resources out there for you as an aspiring business owner. The internet will be your greatest ally in this journey. In fact, you’ve already taken your first step. Websites like AllBusiness can provide the vital information and support you need to get started.
“When I first started out I had no idea what I was doing,” said Miten Sudra, a student and co-founder of ThriftyPanda, a media agency in London. “If it wasn’t for the valuable resources I found online, the tools and guides for start-ups, I wouldn’t be where I am today.”
Managing your online presence will make or break your business. Get to know about blogger outreach and SEO, start a website using free CMS such as WordPress and merchant plugins like WooCommerce. Make sure you analyse your traffic using Google Analytics and see how effective your website is in converting visits to sales. Investing in a website means you also don’t need to rent out a store. Digital marketing is cheap, effective, and can be managed remotely. Get smart – work less but more effectively.
3. Organise your time effectively
Your greatest challenge will be how to manage what little time you have. Certainly your social life will suffer unless you plan ahead. Use tools like Google Calendar to set yourself a schedule. Allocate time to work on your business, but also, time to spend with your loved ones. Use idle time to your advantage. For example, spend your lunch hour at work replying to important emails or managing your social media accounts.
“Fill your time productively,” said Daniel Berwick, owner of SkadooshFitness and a personal fitness Guru. “I found discipline to be the key to success. In my line of work it comes naturally. But even so, there is always the temptation to slack off when you could be getting stuff done.”
You may even want to dedicate parts of your scheduled time off work to getting important projects done. You will have fragmented time and as such these periods will be vital to taking big steps. Use Saturday to work on your business, take Sunday off to relax. Try to find a balance that suites you.
4. Reach out
Speak to your boss at work to discuss your plans. See if there is anything they can do to accommodate you. Reach out to other small start-ups that you can work with. Individually you are too weak to compete with big business, but collectively you can offer that personal touch while cutting down costs.
“Reaching out and forming a network of likeminded associates will help you get your name out there,” said Faisal Maiy, who runs a real estate agents called Steptons. “People will help if they like you and feel that it is a reciprocal relationship.”
Human beings are inherently empathetic creatures, but it’s important to remember that it’s a two way street – you’ve got to be willing to work with people towards a common goal. Making allies can help you cut corners and ultimately save on precious time.
5. Save, reinvest, and grow
It’s time to start penny pinching folks. While working a nine to five definitely removes the economic risks of starting your own business, it may mean growth will be slow. This is because you are simply constrained by limits on time. But a quick way to boost growth is by investing money instead. You can do this by taking steps to sort out your personal finance. Setting a savings goal can help you realise your business dream. With the money you save, you can inject the extra cash-flow into your business to get the ball rolling.
“It’s all well and good making money, but it’s what you do with it that counts,” said Zubair Patel, a business analyst from London. “You’ve got to be smart with your profits and savings, so reinvest wisely.”
After a few months you might want to think about hiring a part-time employee. You can even hire remote PA’s or a virtual assistant from countries like India to save on money. The key is thinking creatively and having a long term vision. Aim to reinvest as much of your profit back into your business for maximum results.
6. Get motivated, believe in yourself
For this last tip, I want to tell you a personal story about my older brother. After our father passed away when we were very young, my immigrant mum struggled to look after our family of four. Being dyslexic, he dropped out of school and soon turned to a life of crime, eventually getting caught and spending several years in prison. It was a difficult period for all of us.
“I struggled for a long time,” said Naeem, who is now the owner of Accurate-Alarms, a UK based security firm.
“After losing my dad when I was a kid, life was always tough. When I went to prison, I lost everything I had, and struggled to come back from the brink. But after getting out, I was determined to change my life. I worked a minimum wage job, used what little savings I had, and committed myself to my business. To anyone out there who’s in a similar situation, my advice to you is this; just believe in yourself.”
The moral of this story is don’t let your past failures, worries and insecurities hold you back. All of us have greatness buried deep inside of us. Be prepared to take risks, but also be ready to take the rough with the smooth. What I’m getting at is, when life gives you lemons, start selling lemonade on ebay.
To all those who have been thinking about starting their own business, I hope this post has inspired you to give it a shot. There are many obstacles ahead of you, but I know you can overcome them with hard work, positive thinking, and effective planning. Try to save what money you do make and invest some time in sorting out your personal finances. If you have any more advice for aspiring entrepreneurs, or a question to ask, drop us a message in the comments section below.