Starting a part-time business

When you are starting, you have to start somewhere. Most people start small and build big, writes Martin Brennan. 

“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step,” Lao Tzu.

What a relevant quotation to kick off a guide to starting a business. It has never been as easy to make a living from what you are passionate about, but the thought of starting can seem a thousand miles away. 

Not everyone can make a living from what they enjoy. However, many others can. It is advisable to use a stepped approach when starting a new business. Once your bills and other financial commitments are covered each month (by your day job), you may feel the need to explore your passion part-time.   

Here are some ways you can explore your dream before you commit to jumping in full-time.  

Start small

It’s the obvious first step. Starting out you don’t have to have a 100% complete service or product, all you have to do is make a start. 

There are some ways to test your products, goods or service. Friends, family and work colleges are usually a business’s first customers. If you are in the food or craft sectors, popular options include local markets. These are an excellent way to test your goods. See this site for your nearest market. 

Concentrate on one thing at a time

A big mistake many startups make is that the more they talk and the more they dream, the more ideas they have. Anyone can have ideas. It’s starting one, just one, that matters. 

Start selling what you make or offer on a part-time basis. It is important to concentrate on just one thing at a time and not to get ahead of yourself. Doing too much too quickly can have an overbearing effect. Better to do one thing well than ten things badly. Once you have developed one thing and established it as a success, you can try the next thing. 

starting a part time business

Make your product or service better than anything else out there

It’s a simple rule in business. ‘Build a better mousetrap and the world will beat a path to your door’. 

Chances are if you have an idea, it’s not original. One way to differentiate yourself is to have a better quality product or service. By concentrating on the quality, you are also establishing your market. For example, think about the difference between a restaurant and a takeaway? Both have the same goal – to sell food. However, the experience and the quality of service is what separates them. 

Be willing to learn 

If you have a desire to learn, you will never stop growing. You need to develop a learning habit. Find out who is the best in the business and aim to be better than them. If you’re an electrician and want to become a therapist, do the courses, find the best teachers, study more than anyone else. You need to learn and have ‘winning’ at the core of what you do. 

Educate yourself and apply what you learn. Don’t be put in a ‘career box’. If you have a real interest in something, you owe it to yourself to try. 

Remember, business is competitive, being in business is like being an athlete, you are continually trying to up your game, improve and win. 

If you have some success, start expanding 

Once you have explored how viable your business can be, you can decide whether to commit to it full-time or continue on a part-time basis. 

Take that first step, and see how far the journey takes you. The knowledge you get from the experience and the people you will meet along the way will make it worth your while. 

And remember

‘Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young. The greatest thing in life is to keep your mind young.’ Henry Ford

Author Martin Brennan is a chartered accountant and contributor to ThinkBusiness.

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