Leon Gettler: Tips for the part-time entrepreneur.

Planning to leave your job to break out on your own? Many people setting up a business start out as part-time entrepreneurs. Let’s face it. Unless you have the money, there’s a good chance you won’t be leaving your day job. The job gives you the cash flow to check out the market for your new business.  You can fund all the preparation time from your existing job income, you are less likely to have bad deadlines, you won’t need to rent an office, you can always work on your side business during the slack times at work and if it doesn’t work out, so what?

And now is the time to do it. A torrent of innovative start-ups, not seen since the dotcom mania of a decade ago, is now flooding the market. With falling technology costs, budding entrepreneurs can get a website and start selling within hours. Meanwhile, increasingly flexible working practices are allowing full-time workers to run start-ups on the side, or even do it on the side if they are allowed to telecommute. I have met lawyers who have run cafes at night, a financial planner who set up a cake business and a telecommunications business development manager who opened an online retailer while working full-time.

The downside? There will be times when you won’t be able to fit it in because you have to do the job you’re paid to do. Also, if you are earning money, you won’t be able to claim it as a hobby. There have already been a number of cases before the ATO where people have discovered that.

So what are the best ways of being a part-time entrepreneur? Inc.com offers some good advice. First, and most importantly, understand your investment. What does part time mean to you? 10 hours a week? 15 hours? What are your milestones? Also, get support from family and friends. Learn to manage your time effectively, that’s absolutely essential when you’re balancing two jobs. Get a coach and finally, learn from your failures and mistakes. Remember with any new business, there is no such thing as failure, only feedback.

Other commentators say you should start small and work pro-bono to attract clients. They recommend setting concrete goals so that you don’t feel you’re doing everything at once. They say you should use social media and outsource as much as possible. After all, if you’re overworked and over-scheduled – something that happens when you’re doing two things at once – it makes sense to bring someone in for things like cleaning and ironing.

Entrepreneur.com says you should be prepared to give up personal time. Also, make the most of every minute. So, for example, you should make those crucial calls during your lunch break. And most importantly, be careful of boundaries. Making calls on company time or using your employer’s supplies or equipment for your own business purposes is not on.

What sort of side business can you look at setting up? Outofyourrut.com suggests ideas like web design and marketing, selling products, setting up a hobby or even your role at work as a profitable side line, pet care, repair work and home renovations. I would also suggest other things like doing people’s taxes, house cleaning, or selling items on eBay. All of these can be done while you are still at your day job.

Thinking of starting your own business part time? How will you manage it?

Want to learn from one of the world’s best entrepreneurs? Join an audience with Apple co-found Steve Wozniak in his first half day seminars anywhere in the world. On Wednesday 16 May in Melbourne. Book at Woz Live

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