Ephraim Mashisani worked in corporate banking and ran his printing business on the side. Though business was slow, keeping his day job allowed him to pay for projects and buy equipment. But as business grew he was faced with a catch 22 situation.
“When business picked up, I wouldn’t take calls while at my corporate job. This meant I was potentially losing business. My solution was to hire a tiny office space, get a landline, and hire a receptionist. It cost me R3 000 a month from my salary, but it meant business could continue while I was focused at work.”
Mashisani then reached a tipping point: “I’d bought a lot of equipment to grow the business, but all the time I was focusing the bulk of my attention on my corporate job I wouldn’t be able to spend that time generating income that would pay for the equipment and staff, so in 2009 I resigned and focused fully on Nyalu Communication.”
The decision paid off, the company didn’t just break even, it grew by 300% in the next year.
So you’re not ready to wave goodbye to that regular salary and benefits. Don’t let that hinder your start-up ambitions. Balancing a career while owning a business isn’t easy – but it can be done. These tips will help make your part-time business a success.
1. Get your family involved
Whether it’s answering the phone, stuffing envelopes or putting together orders, involving family members is a great way to get more accomplished in less time – while also making them feel like they’re part of your business.
2. Focus on the task in front of you
When you’re at work, focus on work. Don’t let thoughts of your business distract you.
3. Make the most of every minute
Use lunch hours or early mornings to make phone calls. Use commuting time on the train to catch up on paperwork.
4. Take advantage of time-zone differences and technology
If you do business with people in other countries (or Cape Town where business operates somewhere between a morning surf and an afternoon mountain trail), make time differences work to your advantage by calling early in the morning or after work. Use email to communicate with clients at any time.
5. Don’t overstep your boundaries
Making calls on company time or using your employer’s supplies or equipment for your own business purposes is a big no-no.
6. Be honest
Only you can assess your situation, but in many cases it’s best to be upfront with your boss about your side-line business. As long as it doesn’t interfere with your job or result in mass client thieving, many bosses won’t mind. You’ll also gain by being honest rather than making them feel you have something to hide.
Don’t have a job to quit to start your business? Getting a part-time job can help you reach your dreams. On your entrepreneurial planning mission you’ve now decided what you’re going to sell, have developed a business plan, done a marketing survey, and know that there are customers out there waiting for you. But, you’re out of work and you need cash.
What do you do? You’re going to need to work for someone else. The good news is that it’s not for ever and it’s not all day. We’re talking part-time work.
Job advice # 1: Get a job in your intended field. The money you earn will enable you to buy things like business cards, uniforms, a domain to host your website, while the experience you gain in the field can provide valuable lessons to prevent business failure.
Job advice # 2: Learn the discipline you’ll need. Opening your own business is hard work. Holding down a part-time job while running a business will teach you time management, better financial management by saving every cent you can and being thrifty. It will provide a cushion while you learn business acumen by fire.
Job advice #3: Keep your job after you start your business. If you’re counting the days until you can quit your job and start your business, think again, but not for the reason you think. Besides the obvious benefit of income while your business grows, if you’re planning on being a sole proprietor, entrepreneurship can be extremely lonely. Keeping a part-time job will give you welcome social support.