Having a side gig while working full-time is all the rage. In fact, many full-time employees will likely find themselves acting as independent contractors in the future, whether by choice or necessity. Harvard Business Review has reported that today's workforce of 17 million independent workers should rise to 23 million by 2017.
One of the best ways to begin a business is by using your free time to create a side gig. In "Social Networking for Business Success," Hannah Morgan and I call this type of freelancer a MOXIE – someone managing other extra income engagements. This type of entrepreneur is also known as a professional who has a "side hustle."
Perhaps you are convinced that having an extra income stream would be valuable, and you'd love to work for yourself, but you're asking, "I already work so many hours – how can I possibly become a MOXIE?" Jim Bahcall, an entrepreneur and the founder of Paper Shower, a combination wet and dry towelette product, has these suggestions for those considering a side business:
Commit. If you want your side business to have a chance to replace your job, or even if you want to be sure to bring in a steady stream of revenue, it's going to take a lot of commitment and effort on your part. "Ask yourself if your passion for the new business venture is strong enough to surpass the frustrations and struggles of working all hours of the day and night," Bahcall notes.
Stay organized. Even if you consider yourself organized, you'll need to work extra hard to stay on top of everything when managing a full-time job and a side business. Seek out strategies and techniques that work for you, as you don't want to drop an important ball when you're juggling so much. You'll need to keep your current manager happy while catering to your clients or customers, so you effectively have many bosses.
Prioritize. Bahcall says: "It can often be tempting to do the easiest or most pleasurable tasks first, however it is important to prioritize based on what is most urgent, what will take the most amount of time or what carries the most weight." Ultimately, you should know exactly what you need to get done in a given time and be sure to allot your time wisely so everything is finished on deadline.
Constantly assess. When you're growing a business, you'll likely try projects and partnerships that may or may not work out. To succeed you need to be in constant evaluation mode. Your time is valuable, and you don't want to waste it on projects that aren't providing you a return on your time investment.
Start small. Unless you'd be prepared to walk away from your current job today, make sure you maintain that position as a priority while you are staring your side business. Keep in mind all of your other commitments, both at home and at work, when you set your goals. "If you aim too high and set unrealistic goals, you will likely find yourself discouraged and frustrated with your progress, or lack thereof," Bahcall says. "Balancing a side venture and a 9-to-5 job is tough, and it is important to cut yourself some slack when creating objectives for your entrepreneurial venture."
Celebrate each small success and recognize that each step leads you closer to long-term success.
Be resourceful. When you run your own business, you'll need to handle a lot of details on your own. However, if you're also working full-time, it may not be realistic to think you can do everything yourself, especially if you don't have the skills you need to accomplish certain goals. For example, if you don't know how to build your own website, it is probably not worth your time learning and doing it yourself; you'd be better off partnering with someone or hiring an expert.
"Proactively build a network of trusted resources that you can rely on from time to time to keep your business' momentum going," Bahcall suggests. "For example, seek out a recent college graduate looking for experience to handle the day-to-day administrative work and gain real-life job experience."
Be patient. While you may hear of overnight successes, most startups and small businesses take time to be profitable. "When you are splitting your days between your day job and your side venture, achieving success with the latter of the two can take twice as long. Be prepared to make slow progress, as opposed to turning profits and seeing business boom right away," Bahcall says.
Accept failures and criticism in stride. Don't be discouraged when something doesn't work out. Every mistake is an opportunity to learn how to do better next time. The best thing about having a side business is that you can still rely on your full-time job to support you while you're learning.
Don't forget to recharge. Even though you may have accepted a workaholic lifestyle when you launched your small business, it's key to maintain a little balance in your life. Sometimes, you'll get inspiration or ideas in the least likely places, including the gym, while on vacation or when you're having dinner with a friend. Bahcall came up with the idea for his Paper Shower product because he needed something to help him clean up after his long bike rides. Don't underestimate how much keeping up with your day-to-day social engagements and routines may help you succeed.
Miriam Salpeter is a job search and social media consultant, career coach, author, speaker, resume writer, and owner of Keppie Careers. She is author of Social Networking for Career Success and 100 Conversations for Career Success. Miriam teaches job seekers and entrepreneurs how to incorporate social media tools along with traditional strategies to reach their goals.