How to Become a Part-time Entrepreneur

Are you one of the millions of people who dream of breaking free and starting your own business? Are you afraid of giving up the security of a salaried job? That’s normal, and in most cases it’s not even unreasonable.

I’ve been of the opinion for a long while that starting a business should never been done as some sort of wild, shot-in-the-dark effort. Those make for pretty interesting “war stories”—when they succeed—but usually they end up being crash-and-burn boondoggles that we don’t hear much about. After all, who brags about their failures???

The far better route is to spend as much time as you need preparing your financial situation for self-employment. One of the ways to do this is by starting your business as a part-time venture.

You don’t have to quit your job to be an entrepreneur

How to Become a Part-time Entrepreneur
How to Become a Part-time Entrepreneur

There’s a revelation, huh?—but it’s true. Whether you run a business full-time or part-time, you’re still an entrepreneur. You can start a business on a part-time basis then grow it into your full-time occupation, or you might decide to keep it part-time forever. As a part-time venture, you can use it to increase your income, which works especially well now that promotions and raises on the job are harder to get than ever. But nothing in holy writ requires you to run your business on a full time basis.

Here’s something else…many people believe that you start a business, hang a shingle on the front door (or place an ad, start a website, etc) and the money starts rolling in. Nice concept, but the reality is that it doesn’t usually work that way. Most successful business ventures start slowly and build over time—which another good reason to start or run your business part-time. Like it or not, most businesses are not overnight successes, but that should never discourage you.

One of the inspirations I had early on came from something written by Ramit Sethi. He broke self-employment down to the mechanics of developing simple metrics: get three people to pay you for your services and earn at least $1,000 in the process (no time limit). Once you do those simple steps you’ll be self-employed. You won’t make a fortune, but you’ll have proven to yourself (and others!) that your services are viable as evidenced by the fact that at least three people were willing to pay you for them.

I think that’s an excellent way to approach it. If you can make $1,000 selling your services to at least three people, all you need to do is repeat the effort. Once you can do it on a monthly basis, you have the foundation of a legitimate business to grow.

Business ideas that lend themselves well to part-time

If you want to start a business on a part-time basis, it’s best to consider businesses that will blend well with your life and financial situation. Ideally, you want a business that’s time flexible and doesn’t require a lot of upfront capital—pouring a lot of money into a business that might not make any money is the exact opposite of what you want to do. Before you should invest any significant money in a business you first need to prove that you can earn in income from it.

What kind of businesses could you try? I can recommend a few that I know of, but people are succeeding in all kinds of businesses. It’s best to keep your eyes and ears on the prowl and your mind completely open. My suggestions include:

Blogging. I started my blog on a part-time basis, and it has grown into a full-time venture. Many, perhaps most, money making bloggers do it on a part-time basis, usually while holding a full-time job. The great thing about blogging is that it has near complete time flexibility and costs no more than a couple hundred dollars to start. From there, you can take it as slow or as fast as you’re motivated.

Blog writing. Not everyone wants to have a blog, but closely related is freelance blog writing. It’s different from having a blog in that you concentrate solely on writing articles, for which you’re paid. The money is quick and you can take it at your own pace. If you like to write and can develop a system to write articles fairly quickly, you can build a client base in a hurry. This is something I started doing early in my blogging career to make extra money, and now it’s grown into my primary income source.

Online store. Do you ever buy anything online? Millions of people are doing it and that means a growing market for what ever you want to sell. Not only is this a business well suited to a part-time arrangement, but it also costs little to enter and maintain. In addition, because it’s product based, it’s easier to automate than most other businesses (you can literally make money while you sleep!). Online stores have tremendous growth potential and that means a real opportunity for you.

Professional speaking. If you like to speak before groups and can craft compelling messages, this can be the perfect business to start (or even keep) on a part-time basis. My good friend and staff writer here at OutOfYourRut, Dave Kelly is a professional speaker who started his business part-time—and still mixes it with other ventures. It’s worked for him and he’s been at it for more than ten years now.

There are many, many more business ideas you can consider that will work for a part-time business. It may be that you start a successful business that you never convert to full time—that’s perfectly fine. You can be a part time entrepreneur forever if that’s what works for you! And it’ll be nice to have a part-time business that could be turned into a full-time one when ever you need to do it.

Charles Hugh Smith developed the idea of “hybrid work” – essentially work and income derived from several sources, most of which are mutually exclusive. One can for example, have a full- or part-time job providing some income and a full- or part-time business adding more, while building income producing investments and growing vegetables in the back yard. Does that sound radical? In a world where both jobs and job security are evaporating rapidly it may be the way forward for millions.

So what do you think? If you’ve wanted to start your own business, but don’t like the risks involved, will you consider becoming a part-time entrepreneur?

( Photo by qwrrty )

4 Responses to How to Become a Part-time Entrepreneur

  1. I hope my blog eventually becomes a part-time side hustle for me! Right now I’m focused on improving my writing, my images, and increasing traffic. I haven’t made an attempt to monetize yet.

    I can definitely see myself being a part time entrepreneur in the future, maybe with even a few different things!

  2. Hi Addison – That’s an excellent idea. When I began my blog it was six months before I even added Adsense to the site. Even then it took another six months before it amounted to anything. You really have to focus on content, not just at the beginning, but for as long as you have the site. Content is the whole reason anyone visits a site so you have to keep it going.

  3. Your first point is very important: you don’t need to quit your job. Too many bloggers, freelancers and entrepreneurs are advocating people leave their day jobs or get out of the corporate world when entrepreneurship is so dangerous, especially on the internet. Doing it part-time is a great way to get feet wet and really test the waters. It can be exciting or boring, fruitful or a waste, expensive or money making. Everyone will have a different experience and it is important to try it out.

  4. Hi Scott – I’m a big advocate of keeping a cash flow going no matter what. And I would never recommend that anyone quit their job to start a business. In this still hollow economy you can’t underestimate risk.

    Working a business as a sideline is a way to get the business going before taking the plunge for real. And if you can establish the ability to make money – ie, test and prove that the business model works – there will be less risk when you to go fulltime.

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