Making Time

Fitting a Business Into Your Schedule

What sort of business is best to start part time?

"All the personal services," says Reiners, "and all the functions that can be easily outsourced." Steer clear of trying to set up any manufacturing part time, as the big outlay of capital for both production and distribution is prohibitively expensive.

How am I going to fit a part-time business into my schedule?

"You need to forcibly schedule your day," says Knitowski, who juggled family, school, a full-time job and his start-up. "The best thing I found was to schedule meetings in my personal life the same way I would business or school."

This is especially important for those part-timers who do their work at home. "It's very easy to become a home owner rather than a home worker," warns Reiners. When you schedule time to work on your business at home, work on your business.

Where can I get information to help me plan?

Besides business-planning courses and books, there are a myriad of resources and organizations to assist you. Sikora got 35 percent of his start-up help from websites and e-mail correspondence from those he met online. "I've gotten a lot of helpful ideas, suggestions and leads from people I've never met face-to-face."

Reiners recommends trade associations (many offer free literature on starting businesses in their fields), libraries, SBDCs (at a university near you), local and state chambers of commerce and the Census (great for marketing data).

Also keep in mind that fledgling entrepreneurs often lack focus in the planning stages. They have "the desire to be all things to all people but the lack of time and ability to do so," says Reiners. Narrow your business so you have a market realistically suited to your product or service.

But What Can I Do?

Here are some of the best homebased businesses to start and run part-time:

  • Know tons of spelling and grammatical rules? Editing/proofreading
  • Believe cleanliness is next to godliness? Cleaning services
  • Enjoy conjuring order from chaos? Professional organizer
  • Got a second language under your belt? Translator/interpreter
  • Want to put that college degree to use? Tutoring (computer/scholastic)
  • Think you can do better than last night's atrocious business reception? Meeting and event planning

-from The Best Home Businesses for the 21st Century by Paul and Sarah Edwards

Part Time to Big Time

  • Mary Kay Ash discovered her talent for selling when she took part-time work peddling encyclopedias to support her family-she sold a three month quota in a day and a half. She would later parlay this knack into her own multimillion-dollar Mary Kay Cosmetics.
  • Taking time away from a never-to-be-finished med-school degree, Michael Dell spent his spare time refurbishing old computers for resale from his University of Texas, Austin, dorm room. The cash-cow hobby evolved into Dell Computer Corp., a nearly $96 billion computer systems company.
  • Eileen Ford was working full time as a stylist (at two jobs!) when her first child was born. For an infusion of household capital, she took on extra work as an agent for a few models. Her part-time work eventually blossomed into the world-famous Ford Modeling Agency, which she co-founded with her husband, Jerry.

--from Radicals & Visionaries by Thaddeus Wawro

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This article was originally published in the June 2000 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Making Time.

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