Success on the Side: Small Business Ideas for Full-Time Workers

Where do you see yourself in 5 years? If your answer is “to be self-employed,” you have already taken the first step because your goal is in sight. Here are some ideas on how to get there, one step at a time.

Let your day job fund your dreams

Allow your full-time job to pay for your dream of being self-employed. Set up a budget that invests part of your salary into your new business venture. Give yourself deadlines to work towards each quarter. What do you want to accomplish this season or this year? Perhaps you just want to lay the foundation for success, and let the business grow organically from there. Do your research and consult your target market on your business idea. If you treat your business venture like a dedicated hobby at first, you won’t have to give up the safety net of your full-time income.

Check out the competition

Whether you are developing a new product or offering a professional service, it is extremely important to see what you will be up against in your market. Define your typical client demographic and decide how you will be selling to them. Will your business be face-to-face or primarily online? Conduct a Competitive Market Analysis to learn more about similar businesses and how you compare. Identify any gaps in the marketplace and see if your business can be shaped to offer those missing elements. For example, if you want to do hairstyling, find out what is missing in this area in your marketplace. Perhaps there is a large population of seniors who are unable to get out and get their hair done. Maybe you could find a way to offer them hairstyling services in their own residence. This is a way the market – and your research – can help to shape your business.

Try your idea on a test market

The first step to getting the word out about your new venture is to give it a name. Brand your business. Make a logo and set up a website, landing page or simply a business account on your social media channels. Ensure that your clients have the opportunity to provide honest, private feedback on your products or services. Come up with a few key questions to guide them in providing the information you need to improve upon your offerings. For example: “How do you feel this product/service compares to the competition?” “What can we do to improve our product/service?” “Would you be likely to refer our business to friends and family?” “Why or why not?” Make sure your questions are open-ended, so respondents can’t just answer “yes” or “no”.

Strike when the time is right

How do you know when it’s time to quit your day job? Set yourself a goal for revenues. When you have solid revenues coming in and they appear to be consistent, it may be time to consider giving up your full-time position and dedicating yourself 100% to your business. It will likely still be a bit of a gamble, but it might be necessary to take a risk to grow. Often you reach a point where your business will hit a plateau and the only way you can rise higher is to devote yourself to your venture, full-time and without distraction. In other cases, the market itself will determine your next course of action. For example, if residents of the two new seniors’ homes in town are contacting you for more haircuts than you can provide, it may be time to not only go full time but to also add an additional employee. Sometimes it is just obvious when it is time to jump in with both feet.

Starting your own business is a labor of love. If you are tired of making other people rich with your daily efforts, you will likely find the rewards of running your own company far outweigh the sacrifices you need to make. Join a business network, search out like-minded entrepreneurs online, and compare notes. Surround yourself with positive people who believe in your dream. Create a network of friends and family who will be there for you to help with word-of-mouth advertising. And finally, develop a plan to reward yourself when you reach each goal along your timeline to success. You don’t have a boss to give you an annual performance bonus so you should make sure to reward your own hard work with that vacation you always wanted.