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Start a Business but Keep Your Day Job

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Some people dive head first into the pool of small business start-ups. Others prefer to dip their toe in first and test the water. They start a business part-time and continue working full-time. It lets them wade in slowly and keep their head above water while they’re learning. Before you take the plunge, consider these planning tips to get your part-time business up and running.

Part-time entrepreneurship can be a sensible way to start a business. First, you have a ready source of funding—your full-time job. That lets you sidestep having to secure funds from a financial institution. Instead, you can build a track record to help get you that loan when you’re ready. It also gives you greater freedom for trial and error in a lower-risk environment. And, that lets you extend your payback period.

Here are some tips to keep your part-time business afloat while you work full-time:

How to Start a Business and Keep Your Day Job

Clear your goggles

Be sure you can see what’s under the surface as you dive in. That means having a plan for your business. You may not need a full 30-page business plan, but have some idea of what you’re up against. Ask yourself the basics: What do you offer that’s unique to the marketplace? Who will buy it? How much revenue will you generate? What are your expected expenses? What other businesses are swimming in your lane?

Be sure you can see what’s under the surface as you dive in. That means having a plan for your business. You may not need a full 30-page business plan, but have some idea of what you’re up against. Ask yourself the basics: What do you offer that’s unique to the marketplace? Who will buy it? How much revenue will you generate? What are your expected expenses? What other businesses are swimming in your lane?

Pick a spot to swim toward

Set specific goals before you start. For example, you might set a goal to gain five new customers within your first three months. Goals like this give you direction and help you stay on course. It also lets you measure your progress (and adjust as needed).

Swim with a buddy

What happens if the business waters get choppy and you’re starting to struggle? That’s when it helps to have a buddy who can throw you a lifeline. There are a number of resources that can lend a hand. For example, SCORE is an organization of retired executives who are willing to share their expertise with entrepreneurs. They provide mentoring programs, free workshops, and webinars aimed at new start-ups.

Don’t swim after you eat

Put some space between your start-up and your full-time responsibilities. Most companies understandably prohibit employees from engaging in businesses that compete with them. Check to see if the terms of your employment include a non-compete agreement. Other companies require employees to disclose their outside business interests so they can assess whether any conflict of interest exists.

Reduce drag in the water

Olympic swimmers know that the right swimsuit can reduce resistance and increase speed. Part-time owners can do the same thing by investing in things that generate activity, like email marketing or search advertising. Each lets you start small, measure your return, and adjust as you go.

You don’t have to dive head first into a new business. Keep your day job and start another on the side. Try these tips to help you get your small business feet wet.

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