There are many great reasons to start a business part time. Maybe you want to get your feet wet in the entrepreneurial ocean but aren't ready to dive in completely. Perhaps your potential market is too small to warrant a full-time venture but could provide enough cash to pay off some bills or fill your savings account. Maybe you don't have enough funding to quit your job and have decided to start your new business slowly and steadily. Whatever the reason, we've got five hot businesses you can start this weekend.
Starting a business in your off hours won't be easy. Businesses, once birthed, are much like living, breathing animals. Even though you might be too tired to walk it during the week, pretty soon it'll start clawing its way into your life 24/7. Clients will call. One more task will nag at your brain Tuesday at midnight. You've got to be an organizational genius--and unless you're planning on expanding full time eventually (which is a very viable option with any of these businesses), you've got to hold that beast back before it takes over your life.
Pros and Cons
As we've already discussed, starting part time offers several advantages. It reduces your overall risk because you can rely on a regular income and benefits from your full-time job while you get your business off the ground. By starting part time, you also allow your business the chance to grow gradually.
Yet the part-time path is not without its own dangers and disadvantages. Starting part time leaves you with less time to market your business, strategize and build a clientele. Since you won't be available to answer calls or solve customers' problems for most of the day, clients may become frustrated and feel you're not offering adequate customer service or responding quickly enough to their needs.
Part-time entrepreneurs may also find that prospective customers, suppliers or investors don't take them seriously. Perhaps the most serious problem is the risk of burnout. Holding down a full-time job while running a part-time business leaves you with little, if any, leisure time; as a result, your personal and family life may suffer.
That's not to say a part-time business can't work. It can, says Arnold Sanow, author of You Can Start Your Own Business--if you have excellent time-management skills, strong self-discipline, and support from family and friends. Also crucial, he says, is your commitment: "Don't think that, since you already have a job, you don't really have to work hard at your business. You must have a plan of attack."
Your Plan of Attack
You must distinguish a professionally organized, part-time business from a hobby. According to Webster's dictionary, a hobby is an activity or interest pursued for pleasure or relaxation. Basically, a hobby is for fun. A part-time business can be fun, too, but it also takes a lot of work.
It's a big commitment--so how do you cope? First, think small. A series of small steps will get you in the same position as one giant step. These steps include developing a business concept, writing a business plan, acquiring basic business equipment, setting a long-term target date to go full time, aiming for moderate first-year revenues, using your time wisely, selecting time-saving business equipment, and maintaining top performance at your day job. Finally, study the industry, and try to make your mistakes while the company is still growing. Consider this part-time endeavor your formal test market.