Past IssuesMarch 03, 2008
Keep the Day Job - Launch a Sideline
Sponsored: Start a sideline business from your house
You're dissatisfied with the 9 to 5 thing. You hate the politics. Perhaps you've even lost your job. You realize that you've been creating wealth for others but not for yourself. You've had the idea of owning your own business but aren't sure where to start. If you'd rather be independent, yet have a clear cut successful business plan, then perhaps launching a sideline franchise business is right for you.
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Keep the Day Job - Launch a Sideline
Some entrepreneurs manage to launch a sideline business without quitting their day job. While it's a lot like leading a double life, many say the rewards are worth it -- namely, extra income and the chance to test out a new, often more enticing career without losing steady paychecks and benefits.
Starting a side business on a part-time basis is one of the most efficient ways of finding out if a new career or business will work for you. Juggling a full-time gig and a sideline gig can be time consuming and must be considered.
"There is a period of about two years where I had to focus on building my side business." says Donna Binder, 53, a longtime educator in the Houston schools who decided to start an alpaca-breeding business on the side in 1997.
Within a period of months, Ms. Binder and husband Laurence, sold their city home, moved into a rental, broke ground for a new house, and acquired five alpacas. Their side business, she says, is booming! She has made it work by hiring help and starting a cooperative-farming system to pool resources with other alpaca breeders in the area.
Life is also busy for Nanda Holz, 32, a mechanical engineer for a San Jose, Calif., networking company by day, and proprietor of road-bike distributor Spin Cyclz on nights and weekends.
Mr. Holz has cut back his work schedule at the networking company, typically logging in 30 hours between Monday and Thursday. And while he might answer a bike customer's email or two during the day, he always shuts off his cellphone. "You have to try and stay focused at work," he says.
Finding the Right Balance
Balancing a day job with a sideline business can be a bit stressful. You're thinking about two things at once. In 2004, Mr. Stim decided to start a side business, an audio-book production business. It was part of his research for "Whoops! I'm in Business," a guide he wrote on turning a passion or hobby into a business.
The new studio landed a contract almost immediately, and "boy, you really freak out once you've got a contract," he says. One concern: "How do you not blow it at both jobs at once?"
Mr. Stim says he's able to swing both by working for Nolo from home, which saves valuable commuting time, and by enlisting his wife as a partner at the sideline business, Sutro Studios.
One tax benefit to the side business: He can write off the cost of audio equipment, which he enjoys as a long-time music-production enthusiast. If the side business is something you love, there's nothing like it, Mr. Stim says. "It augments my income, and it gives me something fun to do."
Moonlighting as an entrepreneur requires commitment and planning, says Mr. Edwards, the writer of self-employment books. "The primary thing that comes to mind is having a consistency of effort," he says. He recommends that people spend at least seven to eight hours a week on the venture -- and not invest too much money at the outset. "The investment you make is more time than money."
Make sure you come up with a business plan, outlining who your customers are and how you can market your products. And especially if this is a new career path, make sure you acquire the necessary training and experience, he says.
Because of the drain on your free time, be sure to involve family members in the decision-making process. "Without the proper amount of family consent, this can torpedo the relationship with the family," Mr. Edwards says.