Charting Your Own Course with a Side Business

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Even in the face of an apparent economic recovery, many millions of people are stagnating in their jobs, unable to get a promotion or to move to a more promising position with a competing company. Many more are still unemployed or even under-employed. That may be the reality of our time, but should we sit still and wait for better times? Is that even a strategy?

Cutting living expenses is one way to deal with a comatose employment situation, but I’ve argued in the past that frugality has its limits. When all is said and done, you can only cut your expenses so much before finding new income sources becomes an absolute necessity.

If you aren’t content to continue to just muddle through, and want to make things happen in your life, increasing the number of income streams will be the most constructive way forward. And starting a side business is the single best way to do this.

How can starting a side business build a better future?

Moving forward in an uncertain job market

Job security is a thing of the past. We could write books about how that’s playing out but it’s completely unnecessary. The more important issue is how we deal with that reality?

If jobs are uncertain, the best thing we can do is to prepare ourselves for self-employment. Since most people have never been self-employed, the lowest risk way to do this is to begin a business as a side venture while you’re still employed by your company. You’ll have the cash flow from your job, and that will give you as much time as you need to get your business up and make it profitable.

If you haven’t been promoted in a long time, and there’s little prospect of getting a better job elsewhere, it’s time to get started with a side business now. In time, your business can grow into a full time venture. And even if it doesn’t, and it merely functions as a part time business, it can either supplement your income or be one source among several income streams in the event you lose your primary job entirely.

Coping with the rising cost of living

Despite official declarations of an inflation rate sitting reliably within the 1-4% range, the cost of goods and services that we need—food, energy, utilities, healthcare and education have soared. If you aren’t being promoted, and the raises you get are only of the token variety, you’ll have to increase your income outside your job. A side business is a logical way to do this.

Retirement planning

Will Social Security be there when our turn to retire comes around? I think so, but it will almost certainly be at a level well below what today’s retirees are enjoying. Maybe it will be pushed out to age 70, or maybe it will be means-tested—we can’t know. And as pretty as self-directed retirement plan projections are, none can adequately account for the effects of one or more stock market crashes, or of a prolonged period of unemployment.

A successful side business can provide a workable Plan B against these possibilities. It can be a much needed income stream to supplement a reduced Social Security check and a less than expected return on a 401k. This is real life—even in retirement we’ll need options.

Building up savings and investments

It’s tough enough stretching a paycheck to cover necessary living expenses and—hopefully—a little bit for extras. But savings and investing can be lost in the course of just surviving! There always seems to be yet another bill to pay, another unexpected expense soaking up every extra dollar.

Often, the only way to develop a serious savings and investment plan is to create another income stream to fund it. A side business can provide the source not only for building savings, but also to pay down and pay off debt, and to increase investments for retirement.

Bringing out your “inner entrepreneur”

Do you ever dare to ask yourself ”what do I truly want to do with my life?” It can be a lot of fun, but it often gets short-circuited on the but-I-have-bills-to-pay issue. And yet despite this cold dose of reality, most of us are fascinated by the possibilities. Deep inside, we all sense that we could be more than we are–if only…

Why is it important to be an entrepreneur? If we can’t rely on jobs to provide for our futures, then we need to rely on ourselves! That almost certainly means some form of self-employment. But beyond the question of earning a living, self-actualization is a very real human need. We all want to be the captains of our own ships “some day”, to create our own unique paintings of our lives.

If you don’t feel that that’s happening through your main occupation, a side business gives you another shot. Who do you want to be in your life and your occupation? Maybe the answer to that question is closer than you think. A side business may provide that answer—and a whole bunch of other good things along the way.

If you think that building a side business may be the right path for you, but you don’t know what kind of business to go into, check out my post, The Freelance Blog Writer Side Hustle. Blog writing is one of the most promising side ventures you can enter because it’s growing rapidly and has excellent potential to lead to still more opportunities. Even if you’ve never written professionally in the past, this post can help you get started.

( Photo from Flickr by ObnoxJester )

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10 Responses to Charting Your Own Course with a Side Business

  1. Hi Angela–thanks for the vote of confidence. I think there’s plenty of room for new blog writers and I’m anxious to hear about your progress!

  2. Saving and investing is very important for a budding entrepreneur. It is often the way that they can have confidence to venture out. Great post!

  3. Hi Latisha–I agree. Having a savings cushion can give you the breathing room and confidence needed to take on what ever happens, and that’s always a plus when going into buiness.

    Fortunately we’re talking about a side business here, so there should be a cash flow from a regular job to help cover you for a while. Once the business starts making money, it will be a good source of income to fund savings and investments. Financial independence will be the ultimate payoff–coming from various sources, main job, side business and savings and investments.

  4. This is going to sound a little harsh, but I think it’s pretty true…

    This economic downturn has been a good thing.

    Think about it, it’s forced people to begin to rely on themselves again, instead of big employer pensions and government handouts in the form of social security and welfare.

    I now firmly believe that one of the best skills anyone could have throughout their life is the skill of entrepreneurship, of finding ways to become more independent, make your own money, and not having to rely on anyone, government or otherwise, to take care of you.

  5. Hi Ross–AMEN! There’s a tendency to believe that all will always be as it always has, but the last few years have proven otherwise. We need to be prepared for what ever might happen. Developing entrepreneurial skills are big part of that–the ability to create an income from the ground up. That’s a skill that will succeed in any time of environment. I’d even say that universities do students a major disservice by not teaching these skills.

  6. My side business is also blog writing, and also working on learning affiliate marketing, and been doing some tutorials for social media marketing. Just haven’t took the next step to making it a full on LLC.

  7. Hi Briana–I getting a sense from my own experience that having a side business–or any business–is putting yourself on a constant learning curve, so I’m right there with you!

  8. Hi Kevin:

    I love this part from your book. This is what I needed to know before I proceeded – Thanks 🙂

    “No start up costs. If you already have a computer and an internet
    connection—and if you have this e-book you already have both—you won’t need to spend a dime extra.”

    Anyone else reading Kevin’s book?

    If yes, would love to hear how you are doing.

    Kevin, I nearly forgot – I finally set up my paypal and was wondering if this would be a good way to go as far as blogging for income.

    Thanks again,
    Angela
    My website: Surviving Unemployment
    http://survivingunemployment.weebly.com

  9. Hi Angela–Yes, that really is true–it’s a true no-cost start up. Paypal is the preferred way to get paid with blogging–that’s how most sites will pay you, so good job! The great thing about PayPal is that you can be paid immediately, and there’s no need to provide personal information the way you do with direct deposit. Though keep in mind going forward that some sites will want to pay through direct deposit, especially those who have a lot of writers.

    BTW Angela, I replied your second question via email. Thanks for dropping by!

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