Starting a business is exciting but it can also be scary. So it is understandable that instead of jumping straight in at the deep end, you might want a little stability. In fact. one of the main questions that I get asked is, how do I start a business while working for someone else.
Like many other women, when I decided to start my own business I started creating it alongside working full time. I wanted the stability. We were in the process of buying a house so the monthly wage coming in was important and ultimately, being a cautious person, I wanted to know I had something in place if I couldn't make it work. It wasn't easy and it definitely wasn't fun but it did help me feel a lot more confident and in control.
So, how do you work thirty-odd hours per week while building your own empire and turning your dreams into reality?
How To Build A Successful Business When You Work Full Time
Leave Your Business At Home When You Go To Work
Trust me, this will probably be the hardest step.
You are in the early stages of building your business so the excitement is high. Chances are, you have a hundred ideas whizzing around your head and all you want to do is to keep plugging away. I've been there and I totally get it but you need to leave it all at home when you're at work!
Ultimately, when you are at work they are paying you to do your job. Do not use their resources or equipment to further your own ventures. If you need to do anything regarding your own business like make phone calls, just make sure it is done during your break/ lunch time.
I know some of the jobs that I have had here in the UK have had contractual clauses stating that any other jobs should be declared so you may also want to check your contract too. I am not an expert so if you have any doubts about where you stand with your employer, seek advice from an expert to ensure you don't get into trouble.
Don't Treat Your Business As A Hobby
In the beginning, it's really tempting to treat your business like a hobby. Even when you are putting in a load of effort but not receiving any of the rewards, it's important not to lose sight of the ultimate goal.
Ever heard of the phrase, start as you mean to go on? Well, this applies to your business. If you want people to treat you as a businesswoman, then you need to put as much effort and dedication, if not more into it as you do to any other job you've ever had. If you start treating your business like a hobby then you will most likely struggle to make the transition to a successful business.
When I first decided to be my own boss, I had just completed a course to be a makeup artist. I asked myself, will business suit me and thought it would be great to set myself up as a professional makeup artist because I absolutely loved makeup. For the most part. things well well but I didn't treat it as a business and it showed. I was losing money because I was trying so hard to break into the media industry that in some cases I was working for free.
I was so desperate to create these amazing editorial looks that my business was costing me money. Instead, I should have identified that the money was in weddings and special occasions and focused more on marketing it that way. Not surprisingly, my first business venture only lasted about 18 months before I gave up on it.
To find out if you are treating your business like a hobby, check out my recent blog post.
Set Goals That You Can Stick To
When setting up your business it is important to set up realistic goals that you can track. The best way to do this is to set SMART goals. I talk a little more about setting SMART goals here but to give you a little bit of an insight, SMART goals are:
S - Specific
To make goals that are achievable it is important to be specific about what you want to do. By being more specific, you will find it easier to plan out how the goal with be achieved. An example would be, instead of saying you want to increase traffic to your website, the goal would be to increase traffic to your website through Social Media Marketing.
M - Measurable
To work, goals must be measured against something. If they are not measurable then it will be impossible to know whether you have achieved it. Expanding on the example above, there is no measure of how much you want to increase your traffic by so that would be the next step.
The goal is now to expand traffic to my website by 8% per month using Social Media.
A - Actionable
Okay,lets be honest here. Are we going to be using all the Social Media platforms we are on to increase our traffic? The answer should be no.There are going to be certain platforms that will help increase traffic more that others so we are going to focus on those.
The goal is now to expand traffic to my website by 8% per month using Social Media, specifically by utilising Pinterest Strategies that are known to generate huge amounts of traffic.
R - Realistic
Notice that I only used 8% per month in my previous examples. Over the course of 12 months, this will give me approximately a 100% increase. As a small business, it is important to keep your goals small so they are easily achieved. It's easier to amend your goals as you are going to increase your targets than to consistently miss your targets because you aimed too high.
T - Timely
This one is simple, give yourself a time frame so that you can review and amend your strategy.
When setting yourself up in a specific industry, I find the way to be most successful is to educate yourself. The online world is so saturated with others that are also trying to make it big so you need to set yourself apart from them.
Are business degrees worth it? Probably, but you can learn enough by reading business books and taking courses.
How do you ensure you don't end up with a business that has failed?
By positioning yourself as an expert in your field!
You want to be able to answer any question that your audience may have so that they keep coming back.
The other important things to learn are how to reach your customers in the first place.
There's no point being an expert in your field if nobody knows that you exist. To reach a bigger audience and continue growing your business, take advantage of the online world and market the hell out of yourself. It will most definitely pay off in the long run.
But I haven't got the money to spend on loads of courses!
Don't worry because I have written a post on courses that are perfect for female entrepreneurs and best of all... They are FREE.
Surround Yourself With Like-Minded Women
Going it alone can be daunting.
Sometimes it is nice to have a little bit of support in place to help take the edge off. Sure you have all your family and friends but do you have someone that understands what you are doing. Who understands exactly what you are trying to achieve. Someone who can give you guidance and support to help you turn your dreams into reality?
As strong women, we build each other up so why would you not want to surround yourself with other amazing women that are trying to live their best life, just like you.
In fact, this is the main reason that I set up The Boss Babe Empire. To bring like-minded female entrepreneurs together in a supportive and motivational environment.
Building your business is stressful in itself so by also having at least part-time employment you will take some of the pressure off by making sure you can pay your bills. It's not an easy task but it is most definitely worth it!
So start planning your goals, stick to them and launch your business when you are ready. Don't forget to let me know in the comments once you've got your business up and running so I can check it out and show it some love.
Haley is an online entrepreneur specialising in branding and digital media marketing. She has spent the past 7 years working with local businesses and organisations and helping them increase awareness of their brand and ultimately, increase sales. Haley set up The Boss Babe Empire to encourage others to follow their dreams. With the help of a supportive, knowledgable community, her aim is to offer inspiration, motivation, guidance and support to other female entrepreneurs.