The Weekend Entrepreneur

What to Do...

Starting a business using just your weekend hours (and maybe even your weekday evenings) can be a challenge--so we went to Jeff Sloan, co-founder with his brother Rich Sloan of StartupNation LLC, an online outlet for starting and growing a business, and co-author of StartupNation: America's Leading Entrepreneurial Experts Reveal the Secrets to Building a Blockbuster Business, to get the dos of starting a weekend business. Listen up.

  • DOstart part time. Using your evenings and weekends to build a business while keeping your day job is a great strategy. The accessibility of technology and the end of homebased business' stigma means starting part time is now a more viable option than ever.
  • DObe efficient with your time. It's important to be completely focused during the precious little time you have to spend on your business. Says Sloan, "The time you spend doing the business needs to be focused, dedicated and serious if you're interested in real business success."
  • DOdetermine your weekend business goals. Ask yourself: Do you want your business to be a hobby business? Do you want the business to provide a living for you and your family? Do you plan to grow the company exponentially to reap enormous profits? Making some specific goals will help you plan and target your efforts toward meeting those goals.
  • DOeliminate distractions. Sloan suggests setting up a private, dedicated space in your home for work-free it from distractions like TV or boisterous youngsters.
  • DOstrive for balance. Before you even create your business plan, says Sloan, create your life plan-then you'll see where your business fits on your list of priorities. "It's really important to have the discipline to create a balance," he says. "And make sure you don't forget other priorities."

...and What Not To Do
Along with the great many tips on how to start and run your weekend business, we asked Jeff Sloan, co-founder with his brother Rich Sloan of StartupNation LLC, about mistakes to avoid with your part-time startup.

  • DON'Tskimp on technology. Because you're not there to fix problems right away, invest in top-notch technology (website, e-mail, fax, phone, etc.) to keep things running smoothly when you're away.
  • DON'Ttreat the business casually. Part time doesn't mean half-assed-if you're serious about starting a weekend business, you still need to deal with all the elements of startup: incorporation, taxes, legal issues, employees and insurance, for starters. Says Sloan, "A part-time business is still a business, and it needs to be conducted accordingly."
  • DON'Tadvertise your part-time status. But you needn't lie about running a part-time business, either. The truth is, customers don't care if you're part time as long as their needs are met. Says Sloan, "What a customer wants is a good experience.... They want whatever it is they purchased from you to be realized."
  • DON'Ttake on too much business. More isn't always better-especially when you're working under a tight time crunch. Says Sloan, "Don't overburden yourself with so much business that you can't execute on the promise and deliver to your customer."
  • DON'Tbe unprofessional. To build your weekend business, make sure your marketing materials (business cards, stationery, brochures, etc.) are all highly professional-looking. Says Sloan, "You want to convey an image of credibility and effectiveness so the customer has confidence in you."--Nichole L. Torres

Excerpted from The Weekend Entrepreneur: 101 Great Ways to Earn Extra Cash by Michelle Anton and Jennifer Basye Sander. To purchase the book, visit EntrepreneurPress.com. For another excerpt, read "Weekend Businesses for Domestic Gods and Goddesses."

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This article was originally published in the March 2006 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: The Weekend Entrepreneur.

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