Advice I’m Giving Right Now: How to Start a Business and Keep Your Day Job
Today I’m launching an occasional series where I share real, actionable advice I’m giving to entrepreneurs just like you.
Working with startups as long as a I have, there are some questions that pop up again and again.
So when I’m working with someone in a way that may help you with your business, I’m going to share it here on my blog. That way, you’ll get my latest advice to help keep you moving forward.
Sound good? Great! Now back to our regularly scheduled programming…
The side hustle.
So you have a great idea for a business – something that has real potential – but you’re not ready to give up a steady paycheck (or the benefits).
You can start a business and keep your day job. In fact, quite a few of my clients start out in the same predicament.
Real life entrepreneurs. Real life advice.
Today I’m sharing the stories of two different clients who have side hustles: Nora and Ryan. Both are juggling day jobs with their startups. Both came to me when they were running into roadblocks.
First up… Nora.
Q1. How do I start?
- Nora wants to start a consulting business.
- She is a CPA who’s been in the corporate world for 20 years working as a controller and, most recently, Director of Finance.
- Over the years, Nora has developed a wealth of knowledge and experience, but she’s afraid to walk away from a steady paycheck with great benefits unless she’s sure this will work.
During a recent conversation, I learned that Nora has developed an extensive network over the years. When I asked if she can name anyone who may be interested in her consulting services, she immediately named two people she’s sure about and another one she thinks is worth approaching. Eureka!
Actionable advice for Nora.
1. Start small.
Nora needs to focus on landing one client she can work with right now, without leaving her job. The first client is always is the hardest. After wrapping up that first project, she’ll have a better idea of how many clients she can handle while she keeps her day job.
As she expands her client pipeline, refines her pricing structure and builds her project portfolio, Nora will know when the time is right to walk away from her corporate job and go all in on her consulting business (plus, she’ll have me just a phone call away).
2. One-time discount.
For her first client or two, Nora may want to consider offering a one-time, first-client-only discount. It’s certainly not required, but it can be a great way to allow for some flexibility as she works out operational kinks, such as project timing and pricing.
The key is to be up front with the client so that s/he understands they’re being offered discounted pricing (an added incentive during the sales process). Everyone loves a deal.
Now on to Ryan…
Q2. How do I keep moving forward with so many demands at home and work?
- Ryan is developing an SaaS business (software as a service) and he’s frustrated.
- He’s got a busy life with lots of demands thanks to his full-time job, frequent work travel and a high schooler who’s on a travel sports team.
- Weekends and weekdays are chock-full, so there are periods when he’s not making any progress on his business.
Actionable advice for Ryan.
1. 15 minutes.
It’s that simple. If Ryan can spend 15 minutes a day, 4-5 days a week on his startup, he’ll be making headway in no time. Too often entrepreneurs look at the big picture and feel overwhelmed. They think they need to accomplish something “big” every day (or week); otherwise, it’s not worth trying. Wrong. The best way to make progress is to chip away at it.
2. Inertia is your friend.
Never come to a complete standstill — keep moving forward, no matter how small the step. According to Newton’s First Law of Motion, “A body at rest will remain at rest, and a body in motion will remain in motion.” So the key is not to stop.
3. Make a detailed to-do list.
Put everything on there — all of it — being as specific as possible. Divide tasks into small chunks (5-15 minutes apiece). That way, even if you’re only making one phone call or doing a single Google search, you’re making progress. Before you know it, you’ll look back and see that doing one thing each day really adds up!
Any deadline you’ve got in your head isn’t real.
There. Is. No. Rush.
In fact, a side hustle gives you the opportunity to fund your startup! The income from your day job will pay for you to do the research and legwork you need to make it a success.
Even if you’re developing something brand new — a product, technology, whatever — there is no deadline for when you need to launch, no matter what anyone says. Even if someone beats you to the punch, you’re going to do it better. You know why? Because you’re taking the time to do it right.
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