I have to say that being a "dabbler" has armed me with a whole lot of experiences when it comes to balancing a side business and a full time job. I spend a lot of my spare time creating and experimenting with different business ideas and concepts - it just keeps me occupied.
I might go as far as to say that I've sunk thousands and thousands of dollars into business ideas that I've thought up during "bathroom" time or heated conversations with friends. Through all these experimental projects, I've learn about importing from China through Alibaba , creating a website from scratch, hiring and managing outsourced labour as well as sharpened up my design skills and learning about new apps and tools .
Despite having not made my million dollars yet, I do not regret the money I've spent, because I've learnt and grown just as much. I guess this is the kind of attitude you need to keep going on your entrepreneurial journey.
If you are really seriously about turning your side job into a serious business there are a few things that you must be prepared to accept:
1. You will have no social life
If you are really serious about packing in a growing side business, you will need to dedicate a large majority of your spare time to it. This includes evenings and weekends. As a result, you will discover that your social life may have to be put on hold for a while. Your close friends that support you will totally understand, and you can use in between times to fit in social gatherings. This brings me to my next point.
2. Make the time and schedule it in like you would an important meeting
The first step to taking the plunge is being able to be disciplined enough to set aside time for your business, and make this a non-negotiable event, even if the commitment is to yourself. It's a lot easier to commit to something where other people depend on you, when it comes to your own business, no one is there giving you a guilt trip for not following through, so it's very easy to push it back for other commitments like dinner with friends or a social event.
When I'm asked when I'm free and I'm pursuing a project I will count the project evening times as "not free time" and commit to other engagements at other times.
I've met with lots of wantrepreneurs that ask me for help with bringing their idea to life, and they weren't even able to commit to one night a week to work on their "dream business" because they had "yoga" or "had to meet up with a friend". If this is your current attitude, don't even consider starting your venture.
3. Work smart, outsource
Unless you are in an isolated niche which no one has thought about before, which I doubt, since I swear everything has been thought of, chances are you'll be competing with someone that may be doing it as their full time venture. This means that they have the capacity to spend up to 40+ hours a week working on their business while you can most likely squeeze in a maximum or 20-30 hours (or risk burnout). That means you need to work smarter and hire extra support.
The benefit of having a full time income while hopefully your competitor is living off their credit card or instant noodles, is that you can afford to hire an extra pair of hands. And I advise you not to skimp on this part, as it helps massively. Outsourcing all the repetitive and menial admin work can be a huge life saver and keep your sanity and passion for your business alive.
Trying to do all of it yourself and you can end up massively burnt out and frustrated.
4. Learn and grow
Learning and reading can also save you hours of time. You can make mistakes yourself or fast track your success by learning from others. Spending a few hours reading a book can help you avoid weeks of rework by following a dud tactic.
I also find that reading entrepreneurial and business motivation books also motivate me to keep going. When no one around you understands you, having read through someone that has been there and done that and came out the other end helps you stay focused and inspires you to keep going.
The book that I recommend to you is 4 hour workweek by Tim Ferris. It's a best seller for a reason, it's not only inspirational, motivational and entertaining. It's hugely practical for those that want to work smarter with less time and obviously run a company in 4 hours or less.
5. Moderation is key
The thing that makes small businesses produce great products and exceptional personalised service is their passion for what they are doing. When that dies, so does the competitive advantage many small businesses have over their large powerhouse competitors.
The key to keeping the passion alive is to stick to a sustainable schedule. I learnt from this the hard way, forming incredibly bad habits such as working from 7-pm till 9pm having a 1 hour nap till 10pm that will keep me working till 3am in the morning before I collapse and sleep 5 hours to go to work in the morning.
After 3 months of this, it resulted in a very overworked and uninspired entrepreneur and also resulted in me putting the breaks on the project in order for me to re-gain my sanity. Don't do it, no matter how tempting it is, and trust me - it's tempting.
6. Work in synergy
Since the practical lot of us are not prepared to give up a stable income to chase our dreams it does not mean that where you derive your income from has to be that different to the side business you want to start.
Why not consider finding a job in an industry that you want your business to operate in. Not only will you gain experience that you will need to run your business, you may meet invaluable contacts along the way that could help you grow.
Even if you have to take a pay-cut consider it getting paid to learn :) In addition what you learn from your side business can also make you a more efficient employee, because the skills align.
Blogging on my site wengie.com helps me become a better digital marketer for SavvySME and vice versa since I'm thinking about the same issues all the time, just applying it to different topic areas.
My freelance blogging and writing experience has also allowed me to get guest posting spots on more recognised publications as well for SavvySME, so it all helps. Forward thinking companies recognise the benefits of their employees having some synergistic personal projects.
7. Know your legal and tax implications
I'm not an expert on this topic but we have some great members on this site that can help you out with this. One such question and answer is this one:
If you have any other questions all you need to do is ask a question and our friendly accountants and lawyers are more than happy to answer.
For those of you that have successfully turned your "side business" into a real business I'd love you to share your story with us by writing your own article, and for those of you working on one right now I'd love for you to share your views in the comments section below.
To get cracking on your social media, don't forget to join our January blog challenge by simply blogging. To create a new blog post simple use this create new article link when you are logged in.
Do you need help with
starting a business?
There are 112 business advisors on standby