Rosy employment numbers aside, it remains very difficult to find a job, particularly a full-time job with benefits. And while we’re at it, it’s not at all easy or certain to keep a job once you find it either. Becoming self-employed may now be the preferred way to find some measure of career stability. But it’s also risky to start a business, which is why more people don’t do it. But I propose the perfect combination: a full-time business and part-time job.
Not only will it help you move into self-employment, but will also act as something of a safety net even once your business is established.
Let’s consider some of the ways that this combination can work to your benefit.
A Part-time Job Can be a Bridge Into a Full-time Business
I’m not going to lie – being self-employed myself, I know only too well how risky it can be have your own business. For that reason, I’ve often recommended stair-stepping your way into business, rather than taking a plunge.
My advice has always been that you start a business on a part-time basis – and keep your full time job – at least until you can establish a steady cash flow from your business.
But you can take this a step farther. Even after you establish a cash flow in your business, you can use a part-time job to further reduce the income risk. It is unlikely that your business will fully replace the income from your full-time job anytime soon. But if you hold a part-time job for a few months, or even a year or two, after quitting your full-time job, the transition will be less painful, at least from a financial standpoint.
A Part-time Job Can Be an Excellent Income Supplement for Your Business
Maybe you have chosen a business idea that doesn’t necessarily lend itself well to be a full-time venture. If that’s the case, holding a part-time job may be just what’s needed to create the additional income that – in combination with your business – creates a full-time income equivalent.
That may not be possible through “off the shelf jobs” that pay minimum wage. But you may be able to earn more money by working part-time for a small business. This can happen because small businesses often have need for full-time skills, but not the budget to pay full-time wages.
If you have special skills that enable you to make a significant contribution to a small business – on a part-time basis – it’s likely that you will earn well above minimum wage. This can include any computer skills that you have, or even sales, marketing, or accounting skills. Because they cannot afford to hire somebody a full-time basis, small business owners may be perfectly willing to hire you on a part-time basis, but at a full-time hourly rate.
You Can Add a Part-time Job Anytime Your Business Income Softens
Even beyond using a part-time job as a bridge into self-employment, you can take a part-time job any time you have cash flow issues in your business. Sometimes all that you need is an extra $1,000 or so per month to get you over a hurdle.
This is especially true if your business tends to be seasonal. You may find it to be an advantage to take a part-time job during your off-season. You may even find that the income from a part-time job enables you to survive a recession. Creativity and flexibility are critical attributes when you’re self-employed!
Being Self-Employed is All About Creating Additional Income Streams
One of the foundational concepts of being self-employed is creating additional income streams. Ideally, those income streams should be directly related to your primary business. But if that’s not possible, you should look for income streams that are indirectly related, or even completely unrelated.
It’s all about creating multiple income streams, and to the degree that you are successful in doing that, your chances of succeeding in business are substantially greater.
A part-time job can help you to do that, since it will represent one of those income streams. You may even give serious consideration to getting a part-time job in a career field that is completely unrelated to your business. That may add a strong measure of diversification to your income streams, since the income source from the part-time job may actually strengthen at the very time in your business cash flow is slowing.
I refer to this as the portfolio method of building income streams. It helps when you’re self-employed – a lot!
A Part-time Job Can Be a Connection to Your Former Career – Just In Case
If your part-time job is in the same field as your last full-time job was, then the part-time job could enable you to maintain a connection to your former career. That can provide you with a valuable safety net – if the day comes when you have to give up on your business, the part-time job will make it much easier for you to go back into your former career.
My Story Using Part-time Arrangements
In case you think I’m giving random advice here, I’ve used this method in becoming self-employed myself. When I started my blogging business back in 2009, I wasn’t coming out of a full-time job – I was fully unemployed, and was starting completely from scratch. I knew that becoming self-employed would be a slow, high risk journey, especially since I was venturing into something I’d never done before. I adjusted my strategy to accommodate that reality.
That’s when I started doing part-time contract work in a small CPA firm. The work was seasonal, but the paycheck helped a lot. In the off-season, I did contract work at large institutions where it was available. This often required full-time hours for short periods of time. But again, the income that it provided was badly needed cash flow.
I stopped doing contract work at large firms back in 2011, as it was disrupting the business. But I continued part-time contract work for the CPA firm – which eventually became year round. It helped provide me with a fairly steady income source, while I was building my blogging business.
Things did reach a point where it was time to decide whether to keep the part-time contract arrangement, or to leave and devote 100% of my time and efforts to my business. After nearly 6 years, that finally happened in November. The decision was aided and abetted by my family’s move to another state. But I knew early in the year that I was coming upon a time when I needed to end the part-time arrangement.
The time was right, and things are working out well at the moment. But I’m ready to grab another part-time gig should it become necessary. Self-employment, after all, is all about flexibility.
A few months ago I learned that I‘m part of an economic class referred to by Charles Hugh Smith as mobile creatives. Charles defines the class as people who are largely self-employed, but highly adaptable, and willing to take on new income sources when and where it makes sense. That includes part-time jobs and part-time contract arrangements like the ones I’ve held.
If you want start your own business, but you’re worried about the risks and about cash flow, develop a strategy that incorporates part-time work into the mix. It could increase the likelihood of success of your business by more than you think. And for what it’s worth, I know more than a few self-employed people who either hold – or have held – part-time jobs. When you’re self-employed, you do what you have to.