Starting a small business on the side

Lessons learned about starting a business on the side

Want to start a business while still working in your day job?

It’s all well and good to aspire to start a business while still in a secure full-time permanent job. But what’s it really like?

Starting a small business on the side

Here’s what I’ve learned while I’ve tried to juggle both.

Soul searching

The last 15 months I’ve been soul searching. I didn’t plan it, it just happened. My soul searching as well as starting a business that is.

I’ve always worked 5 days a week, despite being a mum. I’ve always valued my career, and my independence. My ability to be self-sufficient and support myself.

But, instead of buying a convertible, I’d decided to change careers. It seems 40 is the new mid-life crisis. Well for me, 43 to be exact.

A decision to start a copywriting business has seen me perform an exhausting juggling act throughout 2016.

With 4 kids in the mix, a full-time job as a consultant and a commute of 1 hour 15 each way to this job, here’s what I’ve learned.

What’s it really like – starting a business on the side.

1. Running a business consumes so much of your time. Not just the work itself but the building it up bits too.

2. It’s difficult to compartmentalise your business into set days each week. Potential customers want to talk to you now. Not in your lunch break from your full-time role.

Your lunch breaks don’t always line up with your clients’ availability. You’re not the only one who is busy, your customers are too. I’ve played a lot of phone tag with people in the last year.

3. You run yourself ragged trying to do it all. Keeping a full-time job and working part-time in your business is exhausting.

Using your commute to and from work and your lunch breaks eventually runs you down.

4. Your relationships can suffer. Your partner has only so much patience while you develop your business in your spare time.

That spare time that you’re normally spending with them. It gets to a point when they resent that after hours time that you’re trying to fit in each day.

5. Your mind is always in work-mode. It’s been hard to switch off. Hard to let things rest while your mind has a chance to recuperate each day.

You need to make the effort to schedule time for yourself into each day.

6. There comes a point when you need to outsource. Cashflow is always an issue for startups. You get to a point where your time is better spent on the work that pays well rather than the admin side of things.

You need to learn to let go. But cashflow often presents an issue in deciding whether to outsource or not.

7. At some point you need to make the decision to go it alone and quit your day job. Either exhaustion will take hold, or the available time you have each week to devote to your business will limit your income earning potential.

So, in time, you’ll need to make a call on what’s more important. A secure income or to take a risk and go for it, to quit your full-time job and become a business owner full-time.

8. Admin takes up a lot of your time. Total billable and non-billable hours need a good evaluation.

I’ve found while you bill an hourly rate or quote on a project based on an hourly rate for each task, you need to factor in those phone calls to clients, the emails, the invoicing.

It all takes time. Time away from your total billable hours.

9. It’s a learning process. You are forever learning. Learning new things such as how to market your business online with social media, how to automate tasks, how to streamline processes to be more efficient.

And networking, which many of us just don’t like at all.

10. You need to wear many hats. Here’s my hats. Writer, social media marketer, accounts payable and receivable person, business development manager, customer service operator, web developer, analyst and I’m sure there’s more.

It’s not that it can’t be done.

You just need to decide when that point is that you need to make a decision, one way or another. The decision to take the leap or not.

What have you learned about juggling a new business on the side? Comment below.