Work Part-Time to Start Your Business

Don't have the cash to start your business? Part-time jobs can help you reach your dreams.
Magazine Contributor
5 min read

This story appears in the November 2002 issue of Teen Startups. Subscribe »

( - So you've decided to start your own business--maybe because your parents cut off your allowance or maybe you've had the entrepreneurial bug for a long time. It really doesn't matter why. You've decided what you're going to sell, developed a business plan, done a marketing survey, and know that there are customers out there waiting for you. It's going to be great. The money will come rolling in, and the best part is that you will be your own boss rather than, say, working as a bagger at the local grocery store.

Not so fast, though. It's time to hurdle the biggest obstacle--where's the start-up money going to come from? For a lucky few, money is not a problem--they either have financial backing or a business idea that doesn't require a lot of start-up cash. You, however, are not one of the few. So what do you do?

Well, there's good news, and there's bad news. The bad news is that you might have to get that part-time job after all. The good news is that you can make the most of your time spent as an employee to better your own business.

Job Advice No. 1: Get a Job in Your Intended Field
Unless you plan to open your own grocery store, there's no need to limit your job options to bagging groceries. Instead, think like Kiera Kramer, 19, of Southold, New York, who took jobs in a couple restaurants before opening Parties Perfect, a party service business, with a friend. She credits her experience in the restaurants, as well as observing her parents' dinner parties, with her success.

The money she earned from her jobs enabled her and her friend to spend the nearly $100 they needed for blouses embroidered with the company name, business cards and thank-you notes. It's paid off. Today, Parties Perfect is booked about three weekends a month, serving food and cleaning up after parties.

The professionalism she learned from holding a job also helped. "At first, I didn't think people would take us seriously," Kramer says. "But when they see us working and actually maintaining a business quite well, most people are really proud of us."

Job Advice No. 2: Learn the Discipline You'll Need
Opening your own business is hard work. Casey Medlock, 21, of Palatka, Florida, knows that better than anyone. Owner of a store called Scrappies, Medlock sells scrapbook supplies and holds classes in the evenings. She gets a lot of repeat business from beginning scrappers. "People from the classes come back for the supplies," she explains.

Medlock goes to college while running the store during the day, and then teaches classes at night. Learning time management, she explains, is what her part-time jobs during high school taught her. She did everything from raising cows on her family's ranch to running a concession stand, and saved every penny.

Medlock's advice is to work hard and "start saving money at a very early age and be careful with it. I'm really glad now that I didn't spend any of it." She should be happy--her jobs gave her enough to buy a $22,000 car, a $3,000 computer, and she still had $10,000 left over to start Scrappies!

Job Advice #3: Keep Your Job After You Start Your Business
If you're counting the days until you can quit your job and start your business, think again, says Bibi Schweitzer, 18, of Larchmont, New York. Schweitzer, who wrote and self-published the book Avoiding Homesickness: Surefire Ways to Beat the Sleep Away Camp Blues, has sold 1,500 copies of the youth camp guide but continues to work part-time in an upscale furniture and clothing store.

"I like the idea of coming home and having money in the mail from my book orders and making business decisions on my own," she explains. "However, with my book, I hardly interact with anyone, so retail experience is really beneficial for me. I needed to learn how to interact with customers and how to treat them."

Finally--I'm the Boss!
While Schweitzer loves being an employee as much as she does being her own boss, Kramer definitely prefers owning her business. "You're your own boss, so you can pick your own hours," she says. "You don't have to answer to people. You get to hire employees. It's a good experience, plus the money is a lot better."

If you have to get a job before becoming an entrepreneur, try to make the most of the situation. And remember, research your business idea by creating a business plan and doing market surveys so you'll know exactly how much you'll need to make to get your dream business going.


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