Business disasters have a way of creeping up on you when you least expect it. Simon thought he had it all. A great full time job, wonderful partner, three beautiful children, a big home and a young but successful part-time internet business he was intent on building.
When his full time employer fired him out of the blue for poor quality work, he was devastated. He was unable to find another full time job, and his part time business was only young, and not able to support the family. His wife was pregnant with their fourth child, and they had no cash reserves. After six months, his home was going to be repossessed. This can happen to anyone.
Starting a part-time internet based business allows entrepreneurs to “test the water” and check to see if their business idea is viable, while still bringing in a full time paycheck. But you should watch out for pitfalls in this seemingly ideal situation.
Something to consider before you start your internet based business; will this venture conflict with the interests of your full time employer? If you are both looking for the same customers, then the answer is yes, and this is likely to raise problems. There may even be a non-competition clause in your employment contract.
Discuss your plans openly with your boss, assuming you do not pose a business threat to him. Explain how it will not conflict with his business, and that you will not skimp on time devoted to your day job. He may even view your acquiring extra business skills as positive, if you can apply them to your full time employment as well.
Make sure that you choose a business which is suited to a part-time operation. Some businesses, such as retail, are very demanding of your time, while others, such as being a consultant, can easily be managed with less time commitment.
You need to be an excellent time manager. Running a part time business which you are hoping to build over the years, whilst you are fully employed will test your organizational and time management skills to the limit. Family, chores and sleep may be big issues. It is easy to underestimate the commitment required for a successful part time business. Avoid making promises you cannot keep, whether to customers or to family and friends. Make sure that your plans are fully accepted and supported by those nearest and dearest to you. Ensure that they are aware of your time commitment to the project. Support can be as simple as filing, bookkeeping or packing up parcels.
The lure of the internet entices us to undertake multiple small businesses, particularly when we spot a real business opportunity, often in the form of a ‘must have’ domain name. Avoid this situation at all costs, unless you do not have a full time job. Surely better to build one company properly than to undertake five, and not get time to do any of them thoroughly and to the best of your ability.
Keep in mind what you envision as the end result. Are you setting up your company to provide an additional income? Or do you plan to do it full time when it can support the family? If you are planning to quit your day job then set goals. It would be wise to have a cash reserve as a back up to augment income if you do not have the benefit of a regular pay check.
A part-time business, which you develop over time, can be a wonderful way to grow your company. It takes time to build contacts and to gain the trust of your customers. In fact, part-time working may be the best kept business secret. Take a look at Michael Dell, who started his business part-time in his school dorm. It makes you think, doesn’t it?