Some entrepreneurs are glorified in the media for making the leap from full-time worker to business owner. While this strategy can work for some people, other times it adds unnecessary risk.
Starting a business doesn’t mean you need to quit your day job. It means devoting time and energy to a side hustle that can eventually become your full-time gig. Businesses aren’t born overnight, and having a source of income while getting your business off the ground can be a key to success.
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For Jason Quey, an entrepreneur who launched his first footwear and clothing business at age 22, quitting his day job wasn’t necessary to generate more than $211,000 in revenue by the end of his first year.
Since then, Quey has been working as a freelance marketer, continuing to test different side projects. Although it’s tempting to be jealous of other entrepreneurs, Quey finds this route as a low-risk way of finding entrepreneurial success. Additionally, he can test new ideas on his projects, giving him the ability to deliver great results for his clients.
To start your own business on the side, Quey recommends aspiring entrepreneurs focus on three things:
1. Use your day job to build your business.
While building a side business, your day job is your number one priority. There are a lot of no-no’s you need to avoid so you don’t get fired, or sued, like working on company time. That doesn’t mean the eight hours at work need to be wasted, either.
Quey took on projects that would give him valuable skills for his business. As a marketer, Quey decided to make fellow marketers and startup cofounders his target audience. This allowed him to gain insight into how to better serve his potential customers. Through his work, Quey also discovered an untapped market. Many marketers believe in the show, don’t tell model of marketing. They value in-depth studies, actionable content and in-depth data to back up their points.
In the field of fashion and style, many thought leaders and influencers simply share their opinions. Few of them back up their advice with facts. Quey used that knowledge to start a blog on the psychology of style. His first article focused on the psychology and ROI of clothing, including data-backed research showing how one accessory can increase your perceived net worth by $13,000. Alternatively, you can create and sell an online course based on your skills using a platform like Kajabi.
While your full-time work should be your first priority, there are still effective ways you can use that time to grow your business and lower your risk.
Another way you can lower your risk is to start off using other people’s money.
2. Build your business using other people’s money.
Many people fear starting a business will cost them thousands of dollars. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
Quey started Cofounders With Class with paying a penny upfront. Instead of pursuing traditional funding sources -- and because of his high credit score -- he opened up 12- and 18-month interest-free credit cards. Whenever he could not pay directly on a credit card, he used payment sites like Paypal. This took a lot of the pressure off him to make sales immediately. Instead, he could focus on building long-term value for his customers.
Another alternative is using marketplace sites like eBay, Amazon and Etsy. This is a great way for aspiring entrepreneurs to start their business. Quey started his first business on eBay for less than $100. After finding a few clearance deals, he listed five items on eBay. Within a week, he made his first sale. Starting costs for these sites are low, plus they provide traffic and a simple system to get started.
The risk of failure is a lot less painful when starting a low-cost business. But how do you run a business on the side while working a full time job?
3. Focus on building systems.
Start by finding time to set aside for your business. You may need to wake up earlier, stay up later or work on the weekends. After you set some time aside, instead of focusing on goals, start to build systems that will grow your business while you work.
Inspired by books like How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big and The 4-Hour Workweek, Quey focused on building systems that would enable his business to grow while working on the side. He was determined to have a process for everything he did. If a system could be repeatable and scalable, he prioritized those first.
While keeping your day job is a great way to develop your skills and make valuable connections, you’re tied to a per hour base of pay. Entrepreneurs don’t get paid on an hourly basis, but on the results they produce.