Q: What’s one practical tip for managing a “side” business while you continue working?
The following answers are provided by The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only nonprofit organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. The YEC recently published #FixYoungAmerica: How to Rebuild Our Economy and Put Young Americans Back to Work (for Good), a book of 30+ proven solutions to help end youth unemployment.
1. Wake Up Early!
Most hustling side entrepreneurs tend to devote most of their time after work, when their energy is already depleted and going late into the night. Instead, make it a point to get up early and get some work in when your mind is awake and your body refreshed. Even if you have to work in the evening as well, you’ll appear more available than someone who checks in once a day.
– Kelly Azevedo, She’s Got Systems
2. Have a Clear Separation
It’s easy to want to work a little on your side business during your regular work day, but that’s not serving your existing company or your future one. Have clear boundaries, and make time for your business outside your job. Do this by telling your friends and family you’re setting time aside to focus on your business.
– Nathalie Lussier, Nathalie Lussier Media
3. Be Smart and Careful!
Having a “side” business while having a day job is dangerous ground; I did that for about a year before leaving to pursue my business full-time. That year was an absolute mess — working until 4 a.m. spending my lunch breaks on side calls. It’s very easy to have the lines get blurred. Make sure you’re not damaging existing relationships at the current job, because those are more important than they may seem.
– Justin Beegel, Infographic World, Inc.
4. Don’t Go at It Alone
When your business is on the side and still seems more like a project than a startup, it’s easy to let things fall by the wayside. A partner makes it much easier to commit to something and keep the business moving forward each day.
– Wade Foster, Zapier
5. Create a Real Plan
If you want your “side” business to become a real business, you need to treat it like one. Create a written plan for the next 3, 6, 9, 12 months. Create set days and hours when you’ll work on your business, and set deadlines for when you’ll accomplish specific milestones. If you don’t prioritize your side business, it’ll never become a real business.
– Pete Kennedy, Main Street ROI
6. Make Every Minute Count
Take advantage of mobile technology and handle asks like emails and returning phone calls while doing mundane things. Waiting in line for coffee or lunch is a great place to knock out some quick emails that save time later for more important items. While driving around town, I also use my Bluetooth to return vendor phone calls instead of listening to music.
– Raul Pla, SimpleWifi and UseABoat
7. Make Sure It’s Worth It
I have always found that participation in any sort of side project or activity while you are working is immensely taxing, so make sure the ROI is really there. If it’s not something that you genuinely enjoy such that it’s a break from the day to day, I think it’s even less likely to be worthwhile.
– Garrett Neiman, CollegeSpring
8. Move Faster!
Focus is core to every entrepreneurs success, especially early on. If you think you have a real business, then get courageous and make it happen. Don’t sit around waiting for a comfortable transition — it doesn’t exist. Always assume that you have a competitor relentlessly working around the clock. A partial commitment doesn’t stand a chance in that battle. Go for it!
– Christopher Kelly, Sentry Centers
9. Where’s the Clear Delineation?
Stake out specific days and times where you will work on your side business and get everything done. Don’t let your side business infringe on your main job or project. If it’s getting too time-consuming, take stock and decide if its worth it and either quit, hire someone or make it more of a main project.
– Nathan Lustig, Entrustet
10. Take Care of Yourself
Even though it’s tempting to work all the time, you’ll completely burn out. Be sure to at least get sleep, eat, and exercise on a somewhat regular basis. Also block in time to really connect with people who matter to you on at least a weekly basis. What time you may lose in initial speed, you’ll regain in staying power.
– Elizabeth Saunders, Real Life ER
11. Remove the Distractions
After work, go directly to your home office. Sequester yourself from the television and your mobile devices. You should have a checklist of all the items you need to get done in your time away from the 9-to-5 so that you stay on track and feel accomplished.
– Benjamin Leis, Sweat EquiTees
12. Be Open to Outsourcing
In your business and your regular job, you will always have more to do. Running a “side” business while continuing to work has forced me to get crystal clear on my priorities for each on a daily basis. I start each day by determining the two most important things I need to accomplish in each, and I look for opportunities to outsource other parts of my to-do list.
– Laura Calandrella, Laura Calandrella, LLC
13. Focus Is Essential
I founded my PR firm while working at another PR firm, and I have to say that from experience, it’s about focus. You can’t treat it as a side business. You have to treat it as another full-time business that you just happen to be running after-hours.
– Steven Le Vine, grapevine pr
14. Use Mobile Applications
Be aware of all the resources that make it easier for you to run your “side” business. Mobile applications are huge to keep you organized, so run through the App store’s Business category and look at what apps can make your life easier.
– John Hall, Digital Talent Agents