The Side Business
If you’re a normal person of regular means (i.e. no family trust fund, and you’re not a Powerball winner), it’s risky to start a new business. Not only are you going to invest a great deal of money in the new business (whatever cash you have on hand, plus whatever else you can get from investors or from business loans), you’re going to lose the steady income you had from the job you’re going to quit in order to run your new business. Your financial well-being will now depend solely on the success or failure of your new business. There is no fall-back position.
Now, if that scenario doesn’t produce some anxiety, then, really, there’s something wrong with you.
This situation is the basis for the old joke in business: “The first few years after I started my business, I slept just like a baby. I woke up every two hours, crying.”
Now, that joke is meant to be more illustrative than funny, but I think it conveys the point pretty well.
There is a way to have less anxiety around the process of starting a new business, and that way is to start your new business “on the side” while you’re still doing whatever you’re doing right now. It will take longer, and require that you sleep less every day (because after all, been though there will be more for you to do every day, the amount of “you” hasn’t changed, so you’ll need to get up earlier and stay up later), but it’s far less risky in terms of financial exposure. Many of our current clients started their businesses this way years ago. By day, they worked as a procurement officer for the Treasury Department, and at night, and on the weekends, they were buying and selling art online and in person. Or, they wrote code as a software developer for a technology company, and were doing the same thing for their own clients in their spare time, slowly building up a client base of their own. Or, they worked as an administrative assistant during the day, and set up their own fashion blog and YouTube channel in their spare time, and did that side hustle for a few years until they were able to make it on the ad revenue that their sites generated.
It’s so much easier to do this now, as opposed to even a few years ago. There is the internet, which is available to you in terms of marketing your business, and if you’re a retailer, marketing your products, there are low-cost ways to take payments, there are many, many companies available that are willing to do the heavy lifting on an outsourced basis regarding something your side business needs, and if you do need capital investment, either in the beginning or later, there are now various crowdfunding options, peer-to-peer lending options, etc. that can give your fledgling business the boost it needs.
As you may be aware, as part of the services we offer to our business clients, we write business cases for prospective new business owners. Sometimes, it becomes obvious fairly early in the process that what the entrepreneur wants (say, a retail location that costs $18,000 a month) is not within their means financially, or, simply not prudent because of the long lag between throwing open the doors and actually attaining enough of a revenue stream to adequately cover costs on a monthly basis. Sometimes we advise them to scale back their early-stage costs in terms of physical retail presence, and sometimes we advise them to start even smaller, and launch the business as a part-time endeavor, the side business we’ve been talking about here. Regardless of the approach, we can help with a business case. You may not think you need a business case if you’re going to start a side business case and self-fund it as you go along, but most of our clients have found the road map the business case provides to be quite useful in the first few years of business operations. Keep it in mind – we’re here if you need us.
And, in terms of starting a side business, just remember, many of the successful businesses you see around you now started in exactly the same manner. It can be done, and now, it’s easier than ever.