Making the transition from “Career person” to “Entrepreneur” can be very scary because you are used to a steady pay check and the financial security it brings. Most times people would tell you the best way to make the transition is to start on the side and then slowly make the transition but is that really possible?
Being able to start a side business while still in paid employment is heavily dependent on the business idea and its requirements and also your ability to strike a balance managing both. Here are five quick tips that can help if you are determined to start that business now.
1) Have a Plan: Remember the saying “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail”? Your plan really doesn’t have to be a fancy hundred page document full of figures and projections. Your plan should simply address the major concerns for starting out and answer questions such as:
• What solution does my product or idea provide customers?
• What differentiates it from other players in the market?
• Who needs my product/service and how can I reach them?
• What are the cost drivers for running this business effectively?
• What are the revenue streams in the business?
There are numerous templates available on the internet that can help you present this in an organised way. The most commonly used is the Business Model Canvas.
2) Avoid Conflict of Interest: As you are in a binding contract with your employer, it is important you find out from Human Resources if you would be breaching any part of your contract. It is always best to avoid going into any line of business that directly competes with the organisation you are working for as this could easily lead to a law suit. It is also makes it easier to avoid a tussle over intellectual property and the use of company information, data or resources in the execution of your personal projects.
3) Make Good Use of Free Time: You must resist the urge to use your employer’s time or resources for personal tasks that concern the business. All business related activities should be restricted to your evenings (or when you are not on duty if you work shifts) and weekends. If you do not adhere to this rule, it may begin to affect your output and productivity at work which is also breach of your contract of employment. Remember you would also become an employer at some point, how would you like it if your staff was depleting office stationery or resources for personal business or attending business meetings during working hours? As time goes on, this may become increasingly difficult which leads to tip No 4.
4) Consider Partnerships: If your business requires you to occasionally attend business meetings, visit clients and so on, you may want to consider getting a suitable partner who can act as the face of the company while you remain in the background. If you find yourself having to make this decision ensure legal partnerships and agreements are in place so the partner doesn’t go off on a tangent capitalizing on your unavailability.
5) Leverage on Technology: Growing your small business requires a lot of networking so you can expand your customer base. However, considering that you have committed most of your time to your employers you have to learn to leverage on technology for not only networking but also for staying in touch with you customers. Make sure you are engaging your network through emails, social media, phone calls, Skype, Whatsapp, LinkedIn and the many platforms technology now provides.
These are some practical ways you can start your side business today. Most importantly, believe in yourself and remember you can do whatever you set your mind to do.