Starting a business requires a lot of time and effort — especially if you plan on keeping your full-time job while running the business.
Juggling your own business with a full-time job certainly isn’t easy, but there are many reasons for giving it a shot. Perhaps you’re passionate about a hobby that you want to turn into a side hustle. Or, maybe you just want to pad your savings by creating additional income sources. Or, you might want the safety net of a salary while you see if your passion is a viable business.
Whatever your reasons, starting your own business doesn’t mean you have to retire early from your full-time gig. In fact, it could mean the opposite — your business idea might need some time to prove itself before you can afford to leave your job.
Continue reading to see how to start a business and keep your job at the same time.
In This Guide:
- Steps to Starting a Business
- Growing Your Business
- Managing Your Time and Staying Motivated
Can’t decide what business to start or which side hustle to embark on? Here are some small-business ideas you could explore while keeping your day job.
You might not need to look far for ideas to start a new business — your current job might hold the key. If you can find work as a consultant, you can leverage your current position and associated expertise into a separate business.
“One of the quickest ways to start a business while working is by offering consultations,” said Michelle Ngome of MichelleNgome.com and the podcast Networking With Michelle. “Anyone who has three to five years of experience has expertise in a specific area. Offering consultations is low overhead and allows someone to make quick money if they’re good at what they do. I’ve seen people start as low as $50 an hour and work their way up to hundreds of dollars an hour.”
Here’s a potential profession where knowledge about virtually anything can be leveraged into an online following. Whether you’re writing for mechanical engineers interested in professional tips or posting “Lord of the Rings” fan fiction, your blog could potentially attract sponsors down the line.
And, as for business plans that involve minimal startup capital, it’s hard to beat blogging. As long as you have a computer and an internet connection, you can get started today on blogging sites like Medium.com. There’s plenty of resources online to help you learn the ropes.
3. Private Tutor
There’s a need for private tutors pretty much everywhere there are children. So, unless the Pied Piper of Hamelin just came through town, the odds are good you’ll be able to find tutoring opportunities. Although you’ll likely start out on the lower end of the hourly rate, the hours are relatively flexible and the work is freelance. With enough experience, it might even become a new career: Top-tier tutors can earn hundreds of dollars an hour.
4. P2P Lender
You can use peer-to-peer (P2P) lending sites to find people or even small businesses in need of a loan and make some cash by charging interest. You can dig into each opportunity and select the ones you are most confident in.
If that doesn’t sound like a real business to you, keep in mind that this is basically what banks do. Clearly, there are risks that come with lending out your money, but if you want a way to diversify your investment portfolio and find a side business, becoming a professional lender is an option that P2P sites make possible.
5. Buy Rental Properties
If you’re tuned in to your local real estate market, investing in rental properties could be a great side business for you. Your on-the-ground expertise can translate into a solid return on investment if you know what you’re doing. And, you can even outsource maintenance and supervision to make it fit easier into your off-work hours.
Start your search by comparing the price to buy vs. rent in different areas on Zillow. Find a sweet spot that’s in your budget but in an area where you can charge tenants the most.
6. Multilevel Marketer
If you’re a great recruiter and/or salesperson, the right multilevel marketing (MLM) opportunity can allow you to use those skills to generate extra cash flow on top of your salary by building a network under you. Just be careful about which MLM you decide to go with, and watch out for signs that indicate you might actually be involved in a pyramid scheme.
One way to avoid getting caught up in the wrong MLM is sticking to those with a long track record, a proven product and plenty of revenue — like Avon or Amway — but don’t forget to also keep in mind which products might translate to your network the best.
One potential way to turn your social media skills into a legit side hustle is by becoming an influencer. If your social media accounts are rife with engaged followers, you’re a valuable asset that you can market to companies. If you can identify your niche, look into sponsors that might be interested in paying you to access your network.
8. Do Yardwork for Neighbors on Weekends
Maybe you’re just looking to get outside and work on your feet after spending the week behind a desk. Or, maybe you’re using your weekends to build the foundation of a successful landscaping business. Either way, if you enjoy working in the yard, look for chances to get paid for doing so. Check in with your neighbors or make postings on job boards, or start by searching out opportunities on sites like TaskRabbit or Craigslist.
If you know your way around a toolbox, you’ve got the makings of a side business. Once again, letting the neighbors know that you’re willing to handle their leaky faucets or hang their drywall can be an easy way to start small. And, posting on job boards or setting yourself up as a business on Angie’s List can help you expand your client base from there.
10. Wedding and Prom Photographer
If you own a good camera — or just have a good eye — find work as a photographer. From weddings to proms to graduations, there’s a lot of work out there for someone who wants to work weekends as a professional photographer. Look into how many professional photographers are working in your area by checking out sites like The Knot or Wedding Wire — there might be a real market for your skills.
11. Sell Photos to Stock Photography Websites
You can also make extra cash with your penchant for snapping pictures by selling your shots to stock photography sites. Posing pictures of everyday tasks or taking shots of known landmarks could translate into something you can sell to various online photo banks. So, if you have the eye, look into sites like Shutterstock or Getty Images to see if your pictures can become your side business.
12. Tax Preparer
Do you look forward to your W-2s every year? Have you always enjoyed filing your taxes? Well, that’s a little odd, but it does mean you should consider becoming a tax preparer. You’ll need to sign up for a Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN) with the IRS to prepare federal returns– which can be done online. Also, while not necessary, you can become an IRS-licensed Enrolled Agent by passing an exam.
Registering as a tax preparer for state returns will vary by state, but in California, it takes a 60-hour course and about $5,000 in registration fees. You can become an unregistered tax preparer as well, but do so with extreme caution. Unregistered tax preparers are usually liable for any penalties incurred by their clients.
13. Angel Investor
Angel investors are early-stage investors who help supply cash to companies that are little more than an idea so that they could grow into a firm ready to take on more robust funding and expand. Spending your spare time seeking out early-stage ventures with tremendous promise can be a great side hustle that — in a best-case scenario — could mean providing a crucial building block to companies headed for huge prosperity. If no one in your immediate network has an idea in need of seed money, consider looking for opportunities online at sites like Angel List.
14. Start Your Own Day Care Service
If you’re great with kids, you might be able to start your own day care center for your side business. You’ll need to jump through some regulatory hoops, no doubt — make sure you contact municipal authorities first because the requirements for certification can vary — but if you’re already getting calls for baby-sitting, you might be able to turn that into a business.
15. Teach Classes
The skills and knowledge that make you a valuable asset at work can also be valuable to others, so your side hustle can just be passing along the wisdom you’ve picked up at work. Explore the course schedules at local community colleges or adult education centers, and look into part-time teaching for classes that center around your areas of expertise.
16. Virtual Assistant
Virtual assistants are telecommuting workers who handle a variety of tasks for a wage. So, if you’re a whiz with office tasks, look into hiring yourself out in your spare time. Plenty of people need help with planning, staying organized and more.
17. House Cleaner
If you’re the sort of person who really enjoys keeping a clean house, you might be able to make some extra money by helping others do the same. You can work around your schedule and — depending on how ambitious you are — settle for handling a few clients you know well or try to build your business into something larger. You can peruse Craigslist for people looking for cleaners or sign up through a service like Tidy.
A lot of people have a passion for food, but working at a restaurant isn’t for everyone. However, you can try to have your cake and eat it too by working as a caterer (as long as the clients ask for cake, that is).
As a caterer, you can limit yourself to jobs that fit around your 9-to-5 work schedule while still getting a chance to cook professionally. You could throw a dinner party to let friends know you’re in the business, or use a site like ezCater to start finding clients.
19. Self-Publish Your Book
Print media might not be what it used to be, but the rise of e-books does mean that the barrier is lower for self-publishing. There are plenty of sites where you can publish — or even sell — your e-book, putting your work out there and potentially launching your career as an author. If you’re ready to undertake writing a book, you’ve got options for turning it into a business — publishing on Amazon can take as little as five minutes and costs nothing.
20. Personal Trainer
If your friends call you a gym rat, you might be able to turn your passion into a lucrative side gig. Your passion for fitness could be part of why you’re right to help others get into better shape. Be sure to get properly certified before taking on clients, however.
There are plenty of options like the National Academy of Sports Medicine for certification programs to get yourself trained to help people reach their fitness goals.
21. Sales Freelancer
A talent for sales is one skill that’s easy to market and even easier to find work with. If you’re good at selling, you can probably find opportunities to work on a sales team part time or during the weekends. Even if you’re just working for commission, there’s rarely a shortage of places that could use another good salesperson.
22. Party Planner
Anyone who really enjoys entertaining might have the makings of a potential party planner. And, with so many parties taking place on the weekends, this is one side job that could be an ideal fit for someone who can’t quit their current job. Ask around about chances to strut your stuff with friends and family, and look into getting your services listed on sites like Thumbtack when you’re confident enough to take on more clients.
23. Focus Group Participant
Feedback is incredibly valuable for consumer-facing businesses. As such, they’re willing to pay for your opinion. All you have to do is render your opinion, so look into options for joining focus groups or market research surveys near you like Respondent, Fieldwork or FocusGroup.com.
24. Real Estate Agent
Your familiarity with the area can be a huge asset if you get certified as a real estate agent. You can help people find the home that’s right for them and usually earn a decent commission in doing so. If you really enjoy real estate, this could be a great way to explore that in your spare time. So, look into getting licensed and taking courses in your area. You can even find options online at places like Kaplan’s Real Estate Education.
25. House Flipper
Being passionate about home decor and repair work can be an issue when you only have one home to scratch that itch with. But, if you have the money to invest, flipping houses could be your chance to keep working that muscle while turning a profit in the process.
26. Create an Investment Fund
Want to know how Warren Buffett’s $85 billion fortune started? He established an investment fund with money from family and friends. You’ll probably need to get certified before you can invest for others, but nothing’s stopping you from turning managing your own investments into a thriving side business. If you love finance, spending your spare time researching opportunities to boost your returns can make for an excellent side hustle.
If you’re just going to use your own money, apps like RobinHood offer fee-free trading. And if you want to expand to take on other clients, you can essentially start your own hedge fund. You’ll need to pass your series 65 exam with the North American Securities Administrators Association, while you can find some legal advice about setting up an LLP or LLC to invest for others at Nolo.com.
27. Bartend on Weekends and Nights
Working as a bartender can be an ideal job to fit around full-time work elsewhere, especially if your shifts fall primarily on Friday and Saturday nights. You can bartend at a local watering hole or work private events for a catering company. Finding work is going to be a different process for everyone, but one good place to start is at online job sites like Gigmasters.
28. Flip Used Cars
Use your knowledge of the used-car market to start your own business. Finding potentially valuable cars and then doing repair/restoration work on them can help you turn lemons into a valuable side hustle.
You should use Kelley Blue Book to familiarize yourself with the market value for different makes, models and years, then apply that knowledge when bargain shopping at local lots or on sites like Cars.com or Auto Trader.
29. Rent Out Rooms or a House on Airbnb
Of course, some opportunities for a side business are sitting right under your nose. Your house — or, in some cases, apartment — can become a source of income when you put it up as a rental on sites like Airbnb. That’s especially true if you live near major tourist attractions. If you’re a people person, don’t pass up a chance to turn your residence into a part-time rental.
30. Tour Guide
If you’re really passionate about your hometown or a nearby landmark/tourist attraction, consider becoming a tour guide. You’ll be able to share your love for local architecture or geology while earning money in the process. You could start by investigating local historical societies or nature appreciation organizations to find ideas about how to market your services.
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31. Graphic Designer
The number of different businesses in need of freelance graphic design work is vast, with plenty of firms finding themselves without professional graphics on their website or marketing materials. If you have a talent for the visual arts and a knowledge of some of the professional programs used in graphic design, market yourself as a freelance graphic designer and start building a portfolio.
32. Web Designer
There aren’t many businesses in America that don’t have at least some sort of website. And, there aren’t many business owners with the necessary web design skills to put together a site that will actually help them generate more business. If you understand the ins and outs of building a website that’s as functional as it is beautiful, you’ll be able to find plenty of places in need of your services and willing to let you work around your full-time job. You can start shopping potential jobs on job posting sites like Freelancer.
If you’re especially passionate about your art, don’t overlook its potential to also become your side gig. Find galleries and art fairs where you can showcase your work, and put it out there on eBay, Etsy or other sites. Your work could very well find a following — modest or otherwise — that will allow you to generate some income while you’re pursuing your passion.
34. Private Sports Coach
Do you have a shelf full of old trophies gathering dust? Although you might not be an athlete anymore, the skill set you acquired to win those trophies can still be employed to help current athletes. Seek out work as a private coach, particularly in games with specialized skills like baseball or basketball. You could start by volunteering to coach with youth/rec leagues to meet potential clients, or use online resources like CoachUp to get put in touch with people who could use your services.
Many podcasts can usually be classified as “passion projects” more than anything else. But, in the event that yours is actually getting some real listeners, turn it into a side hustle. Sponsors will pay to advertise to your listeners, especially if you have a niche audience that might otherwise be hard to reach. Put your podcast out there on iTunes, or you can sign up for a SoundCloud account.
36. Interior Designer
If you have a real love for picking out home decor but are starting to get really sick of redoing your living room every three months just to get your fix, work out that pent-up creative energy for clients. Put your services as an interior designer out there. You might need to stick to clients that can accommodate your work schedule at first — you might start by looking on sites like Freelancer and Upwork — but this can absolutely be turned into a career if you find enough business.
37. Lyft or Uber Driver
One of the easiest side hustles you can take on is driving for Uber or Lyft. All you need is a relatively nice car and a smartphone, and you’re off and running — or driving, rather. You’ll have complete freedom to set your own schedule, so it can make for an ideal gig to hold down aside from your main job.
Do you enjoy home brewing? More importantly, do the people you give your beer to enjoy your home brewing? If you’ve actually developed some mastery over the craft, consider turning your small-batch brewing into something bigger. You can start by passing out samples and selling a few six-packs here and there. But if your palate and skills really meet muster, you might have a future in owning your own brewery. You can buy your first home brewing kit — or upgrade your existing one to handle larger volume — at sites like Northern Brewer, HomeBrewSupply.com or, heck, just Amazon.
Your grandmother is right: No one knows grammar anymore. But if you do, your skills are valuable. With such an abundance of written materials out there, there are many people in need of a good proofreader. If you love grammar and the written word, you could easily market yourself as a freelance proofer and work around your schedule at your job.
You can probably find one-off jobs on sites like Craigslist or Fiverr, but you might be able to find more work — or at least charge a lot more — by getting a professional degree.
40. Nanny/Au Pair
While plenty of working families are looking for someone to work more hours than you can fit around your job, being an au pair — or for the less cultured among us, a babysitter — can fit into your nights and weekends with the right client. If you love caring for children, this can be an ideal gig. Look into childcare services in your area and inquire about how the find sitters, or try signing up with online services like Sittercity.
41. Teach English
There’s one skill you definitely have that could translate to money: speaking English. If not, the odds are good you’re not getting a whole lot out of this article.
42. Web Developer
For every business out there looking to take its first step into the digital age with a simple WordPress site to capture e-commerce, there are others with a brisk online business looking to take the next step by building out their own site. As a freelance web developer, you can help them build a site from the ground up that’s specific to their needs and work your own hours to do so.
Start your search online at sites like Craigslist or Upwork, but also consider seeking out the less web savvy by just asking around with local small businesses. The people who need you the most might also be the ones who wouldn’t know to post their query online.
43. Property Manager
While working as a property manager does require being available for a call at all hours, it can still be the sort of work you can fit into your otherwise busy schedule. If your job is accommodating enough to allow you to field phone calls when apartment emergencies pop up, you could easily get a steep discount on your rent in exchange for being your landlord or landlady’s boots on the ground.
44. House Painter
House painting can be an ideal gig to fit around another job. You might start by asking around and offering your services, or even just cruising around your neighborhood to see which houses look as though they need a coat of paint. This is one project a lot of homeowners just don’t have the time or know-how to do themselves. Make it easy for them to find you by posting your information on Angie’s List or other job posting sites.
45. Construction Work
Clearly, most construction work is done by full-time laborers and done during office hours, but that doesn’t mean you couldn’t find weekend work helping to build things. Check with local contractors about upcoming jobs or labor needs they might have — you could be a valuable addition to their team. If you know anyone who works construction, ask them about how they line up jobs to get a sense of how the local market functions in your area.
If you’re good with tools and building, you could find work as a contractor. Whether it’s building a garden shed or remodeling a kitchen, if clients are ready to work around your other job, you can contract out your services on weekends.
Angie’s List is clearly a good place to start. Not only can you list your services, but you can research what the competition is charging in your area.
47. App Developer
The market for smartphone apps is a robust one with plenty of competition, but when you find a need that you can meet, your weekend project can turn into a money-maker in a hurry. Apple has a whole site dedicated to developers at developer.apple.com, while Google has developer.android.com to help you code for Android phones.
Most reporters are full-time employees, but you can definitely also find work as a freelance reporter. That’s especially true if you have specialized knowledge that could help you carve out a niche beat where news organizations will come to you when they need more information. Inquire at any local publications first, and you can also check out online communities like the one run by the Society of Professional Journalists.
If you like to tinker and come up with creative solutions to common problems, don’t shy away from making that into your side hustle as an inventor. If your product really does prove useful, you might even land on “Shark Tank “someday. Just make sure you patent it first — something you can do online with the United States Patent and Trademark Office.
50. Dog Walker or Pet Sitter
If you’re a huge pet lover, that can translate into a wonderful opportunity for a side business. Dog-walking can be a great way to stay active and spend time with adorable canines while getting paid for the privilege. Let your friends with pets know they don’t have to pay for a kennel when they go out of town, or sign up with services like Rover or Wag to start finding clients.
51. Equity Crowdfunding
The JOBS Act of 2012 changed many aspects of security law to make it a little easier for the average person to invest in early-stage companies, including opening up crowdfunding platforms to offer up equity in exchange for investments. While these are among the riskiest investments you can make, they do also have the potential for huge returns if/when those companies find success.
52. Repair Household Items
Plenty of people out there are going to replace household items once they stop working, even when there’s an easy, cheap repair that could be made. If you have a working knowledge of how most basic electric appliances are put together, you can easily start offering your services repairing household items for your neighbors before posting your information on sites like Angie’s List.
53. Copy Editor
Are you sick of reading copy in passive voice or wading through 5,000-word articles that should have been, well, 500? You could have the makings of a copy editor. You can often find opportunities for editing on a part-time or freelance basis, including many that involve working remotely. Check out sites like Upwork or Flexjobs to start seeking out opportunities that are a fit for you.
Breaking through on YouTube is far from easy with thousands of creators fighting for the same eyeballs. However, if you can find your audience, you can also turn a fun vlogging hobby into an actual business. YouTube offers a lot of support to its creators through its channel dashboard, including the ability to access analytics or build a community with other vloggers.
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From weddings to private parties, getting someone who knows how to handpick the music that will keep everyone on the dance floor and having fun is an important part of party planning. If you have an encyclopedic knowledge of musical styles and a talent for reading a room, consider investing in some speakers and equipment and start advertising your skills as a DJ.
If you know how to sew, you can help your friends or family extend the lifespan of their favorite clothes by making repairs to their wardrobe. You might need to start small with people you know, but if your work is strong, you could easily start to build up a decent side business patching holes and fixing seams.
Few things in the modern world spark as much enthusiasm as baked goods. It’s true. People love cookies. And muffins. And bread. Really, most things made with butter, flour and love will find a home in someone’s stomach. As such, if you’re routinely the first to sell out at the local bake sale, you could be sitting on a potential side business selling your wares. So don’t overlook the possibility for you to have your cake and sell it, too.
Okay, so you’re not Gigi Hadid or Tyson Beckford. That’s okay. It doesn’t necessarily mean you don’t have a future as a model. Beyond the sort of high-profile gigs people most often associate with modeling, there’s an abundance of work to be had posing for everything from local ads for the Penny Saver to stock photography.
All you really need to be a historian is access to a library and time to read. However, if you’re interested in turning it into a side business, consider focusing on the local history of your area or a particular niche that you find especially interesting. History is full of fascinating nooks and crannies that have yet to be fully explored, and if you find the right one, it could be your own little cottage industry.
Becoming an actor or actress doesn’t have to mean moving to New York or Los Angeles. From local commercials to community theater, there’s a wide array of opportunities beyond film and television — many of which pay. So don’t assume that it’s Meryl Streep or bust — your acting can be a side hustle.
61. Wood Working
If you love spending your weekends in the woodshop but are quickly running out of space to keep all of those Ottomans and hutches you’re making, it’s possible that turning your hobby into a side hustle is the answer. Hand-crafted furniture comes with a story, and you might find that plenty of locals will be more interested in paying you for their new shelves than just going to Ikea. Let your friends know they can buy your pieces or put your work up on sites like Etsy, eBay or Craigslist.
62. Junk Hauler
If you own a truck or other large vehicle — and don’t mind getting a little dirty — hauling junk can be a great way to turn your car into a business. Plenty of people out there need to get rid of a couch but aren’t particularly optimistic it will fit into their Camry. You can peruse Craigslist for opportunities to make some extra money and — if you’re lucky enough to get called in on the right job — even get a chance to keep something that meets your fancy.
63. Snow Plow Operator
Okay, so this might be the plot of one of the most popular episodes of “The Simpsons,” but that doesn’t mean that owning a truck in northern climates can be an opportunity. While the city or county will plow most public roads, you can still find plenty of people with long driveways who aren’t interested in shoveling snow in subzero temperatures if they can just pay you to plow things clear. You can check with your neighbors first, but you can also search out other customers with sites like TaskRabbit or Thumbtack.
64. Rent Out Equipment or Your Car
Sometimes your side hustle can be difficult to find. In other cases, it might be sitting in your garage gathering dust. If you own a lot of expensive equipment — from a car to a riding lawn mower — you could create an additional income stream just be renting it out. Look into listing your car on a sight like Turo, or use Craigslist to post about your other types of equipment.
Few things are as valuable as a mechanic you can trust. And if you’re someone who knows their way around an internal-combustion engine, you could easily be just that to your friends, neighbors, coworkers and family and charge them a fair price for your services.
66. Delivery Driver
New apps like DoorDash have helped make working as a delivery driver a job that you can take on when you have time. If you own a car and don’t mind driving, this can be a side hustle that’s easy to start. Also check out Postmates and Uber Eats to see how you can make money delivering food.
There’s almost always going to be work for someone with a strong back and a burning desire to lift things. Even if it’s just the strong back, picking up moving jobs on weekends can be easy money, especially if you own your own truck. And, it’s great exercise to boot.
68. Social Media Manager
Are you constantly in trouble with your boss about how much time you spend on Facebook or Snapchat at work? Well, how about finding a side hustle where your boss would hassle you for not spending enough time on social media?
Plenty of business owners are too engaged with running their business to be able to give their social media accounts enough attention. Freelancing as a social media manager can mean providing them with a valuable service that’s right in your wheelhouse. You can definitely ask around about businesses that could use someone to help them manage their profile, or make use of job sites like CloudPeeps or Fiverr.
69. Mystery Shopper
Mystery shoppers are hired by business owners to get a spot check on their customer service, and you can get paid to help them spy on their workers. Everywhere from restaurants to grocery stores need mystery shoppers, so you can look for opportunities in your wheelhouse. Start your search by checking out some of the industry leaders like BestMark, Sinclair Customer Metrics, IntelliShop or MarketForce.
70. Wedding Planner
If you love weddings and have a working knowledge of local vendors, you could make a great wedding planner. And, with weddings almost exclusively taking place on weekends, you should be able to work around your full-time job. You might need to leverage family or friends for your first jobs, but once you have some experience under your belt you can look into getting onto sites like The Knot.
71. Street Vendor
While the laws dictating what you can sell are going to be different from city to city, look into what it takes to be a street vendor. Consider opening a sidewalk stand to sell anything from caricatures of passers-by to lemonade.
Documentary filmmaking isn’t exactly a lucrative business, but it can definitely be a rewarding side business. And who knows, if you really put together something truly compelling, you might even be able to get it into festivals like Sundance and/or sell it to a distributor.
Consider what sort of unique aspects of your area could make for a fun film, or think on whether there are people you know with really interesting stories about their lives.
73. Teach Improv or Theater
From community theater to black-box improv theaters, there are many people out there trying to hone their craft in performing all types of live theater. So, if your younger days include acting or directing, you might be able to earn money by teaching acting classes or coaching an improv troupe. You can begin your search at places like Craiglist, but some of your best options will come just from spending time feeling out the local theater community and building some word of mouth with aspiring performers.
The odds are pretty slim that you’ll make a whole lot of money making films. In fact, the opposite is more likely. However, if you have a passion for making films and people you know who share it, making movies during your nights and weekends is a distinct possibility. It might take some time, but if your work is really strong, it could ultimately lead to paid work or even selling a film to a distributor. And there’s plenty of opportunities to show your movies, from submitting to festivals to ye olde YouTube.
There are many local offices at the city and county level that don’t require your full-time attention. If you have a passion for issues — especially local ones — look into offices in your area you might excel at and consider running for them in the next election. There are even searchable databases of government positions like Run For Office that can help you do so.
Virtually anyone with some musical talent can potentially channel it into being a busker. All you really need is an instrument and somewhere with a high volume of foot traffic — which you can even find with tools like Location Genius — and you’re ready to go.
Magicians are a popular addition to a party. If you’re the sort of nimble-fingered aspiring Houdini who loves performing sleight of hand, consider putting together an act and hiring yourself out for parties and events. There are even job sites like Entertainers Worldwide to narrow your search.
If you love making children laugh and being in makeup, this is one side business you would be a real bozo to overlook. Clowning can be a very challenging art form that requires years to master, but it can also be relatively easy to learn enough to be a wonderful addition to a child’s party. You can post your services on sites like Craigslist to get started, or use Entertainers Worldwide for a more specific search.
79. Car Detailer/Customizer
Sometimes the biggest issue with your love of cars is that you can’t work on them as much as you want to. As such, customizing or detailing cars for others can be a great way to marry your passion with a potential to earn some money. Freelance out your time and — if your work is good — you could see demand for your services grow.
80. Hair Dresser/Barber
If you’re pretty good at cutting hair, you might have already discovered that plenty of friends will inquire about your skills rather than have to make a trip to the salon or barbershop. Don’t overlook this fact. You can potentially cut and/or style hair on a freelance basis on demand, traveling to your clients and working around their schedules.
Or, you might find it’s easier to rent a chair at a local salon during hours you’re free. Regardless, if you can find clients ready to work around your full-time job, you can turn this into a lucrative skill.
Knowing how to work with wood is one skill that’s been in demand pretty consistently for, well, almost the entirety of human history. If you know how to build simple wooden structures, you could find work as a freelance carpenter helping people with everything from their new shed to their remodel project. You can start seeking out jobs today on sites like TaskRabbit or Freelancer.
Plumbing issues can make a house unlivable in a real hurry if they aren’t addressed. If you take on work as a freelancing plumber, you can help address them for a fee. If you don’t want to leave your job, you will have to limit your clients to those who can work around your schedule, but you can still provide a valuable service.
Even the simplest home repair jobs can be seriously complicated when they start to involve your home’s wiring. But if you’re the sort of wire whisperer who actually understands how electrical systems work, you could find freelance work as an electrician you could fit in around your job.
If you’ve been accused of loitering in the past, there’s good news: This could be your new career or at least your new side business. While you would have to stick to weekend shoots, appearing as a background performer in shoots is pretty straight-forward work. Plus, you might even appear on a TV show or in a movie.
From local beer league softball to youth soccer, plenty of sports have a real need for referees and umpires. If you’ve got experience — or even just a working knowledge of the sport in question — you can find work calling games on nights and weekends. The National Association of Sports Officials has plenty of resources on how to get started.
86. Play Poker
It’s important to note that the number of people who get the bright idea that they can make a lot of money playing poker is much, much larger than the number of people who actually find any success doing so. In fact, the odds are good that most people who attempt this end up losing a lot more money than they ever make.
However, if you really have the discipline (major emphasis on “discipline”) and knowledge necessary, you can be that rare person who takes advantage of the punters to earn some decent money playing cards. Clearly, living near casinos or card rooms is a relative must, but you can look for tournaments being played in your area on sites like Card Player or even go for the big time by playing in World Series of Poker circuit events.
Working in agriculture often brings up images of massive fields of wheat being harvested by huge threshers, but it can also be as simple as digging around in your yard. If your produce is of high quality and you’ve got more than you can eat, look into selling it at local farmers markets — either by opening your own booth or by selling to a vendor there. And if that doesn’t work, a roadside stand with fresh vegetables is almost always a welcome sight.
88. eSports Professional
What could possibly be more satisfying than finding a way to show up your mother for constantly telling you spending so much time playing video games would never amount to anything? Today, the top earners in eSports can make millions of dollars a year winning prize money from competitions or by streaming their gameplay on sites like YouTube or Twitch. And even if you’re not destined for superstardom, a modest income from prize money or an online following is possible.
89. Become a Sports Gambler
Not unlike poker, anyone thinking they can turn betting on sports into a business should make sure they’re keeping in mind just how many people have had a similar idea only to see it crash in flames. However, if you’re really an expert on a particular league or sport, have a strong grasp of mathematics and a system in place to make sure your accounting is precise, it’s certainly possible to beat the crowd by making smarter, better-informed bets.
You can use sites like VegasInsider.com to track the betting lines on various games, allowing you to possibly make hypothetical bets to test your prowess before putting any real money into the business. But, if you can show consistent profits over a few months, you might be one of the rare birds who can actually make this into a side hustle rather than just another drain on your finances.
90. Personal Chef
Are you the sort of talented home cook who can make a truly stunning five-course meal but has a family that would still just prefer macaroni and cheese with hot dogs cut up in them? Instead of trying to get your 6-year-old to develop a taste for foie gras, consider hiring out your services as an on-demand personal chef to friends and coworkers interested in throwing a dinner party.
Finding the right client might be tricky if you’re still working full time elsewhere, but job posting boards like iHireChefs can help you see what’s out there.
91. Ticket Reseller
The term “arbitrage” might seem a little fancy, but it’s exactly what this is. With sites like StubHub, TicketSwap or VividSeats acting as a marketplace for tickets, you can do your research and look into trading in event tickets for profit. If you can start spotting trends in prices, you could make some decent money just by buying tickets and selling them later for higher prices.
92. Make Clothes
You don’t need to be on “Project Runway” to become a fashion designer and sell clothes. Even if you’re just making clothes by hand — one item at a time — sites like Etsy and eBay mean you can go direct to consumers with your styles. And, if you start to build a following of people who like your clothes, that could eventually scale up into something bigger. Either way, all you really need to get started is some fabric, the ability to sew and the creativity to make something people really like wearing.
93. Cryptocurrency Miner
Sure, the rollercoaster that bitcoin has sent investors on of late can’t instill much confidence, but investing in cryptocurrencies doesn’t have to include money. In fact, with the right computer processors, you can set up your own rig and start “mining” cryptocurrency. In that case, your only ongoing cost is electricity.
94. Portrait Artist
A hand-drawn picture of a loved one can make for a wonderful gift, and offering up a chance to get one to your family and friends can be a wonderful side business. If you’re a talented artist with a knack for doing faces, renting out your talents for simple portraits could be a great way to make money. One place to start is with the resources at The Art Career Project.
95. Karaoke Host
Many bars have a weekly karaoke night, but almost none of them actually own their karaoke machine. That’s because it’s usually much simpler (and cheaper) to just hire karaoke hosts with their own gear. If you love karaoke — and you will probably need to love it a lot to retain your sanity over time — buying a machine can mean making money from your fee and tips. Try signing up for sites like GigMasters as a way to find potential gigs.
Paid music gigs aren’t always going to be concerts. Playing taps at a funeral or a processional at a wedding can pay well and fit around your full-time job. There’s a lot of chances to make money with musical talent, and if you can play an instrument, you might already have your side hustle ready to go. Check out job boards like ThatsMyGig.com, Gigmor or Musician Casting to see what sort gigs are in your area.
Freelance videographers can make good money capturing weddings or graduations. That’s doubly true if you have the know-how to cut together the footage into a great video complete with graphics. Weddings are a good place to start, so look into signing up with sites like The Knot to start booking jobs.
Whether you’re going door to door or waiting outside grocery stores, plenty of non-profit organizations need workers to help them raise the money they need. Canvassing can be a side gig that will earn you money and feed your soul if the cause is one near and dear to your heart. Ask about working for your favorite non-profits first, and you can also look to the U.S. Public Interest Research Groups — a network of nonprofits that most likely have a few groups near you.
99. Cater Waiter
If you’ve got service-industry experience, you could be able to fit working one-off jobs as a banquet server — or a cater waiter, to be a little less formal. You can use services like Snag to find work near you.
Video editing might not seem especially important… until you’ve seen a poorly edited video. If you know your way around Final Cut or other editing software, you can charge hourly to help turn people’s home movies into videos they can take some real pride in showing to friends. There could be a lot of good ways to find work in your area, but job boards like ProductionHUB can be a great place to start.
Of course, if money’s not the thing motivating you to seek out a side business, don’t overlook volunteering. You can feel good about putting work into making your community a better place. And who knows, it might result in contacts that could ultimately result in new career opportunities. Checking with groups you’re already donating to is likely the right place to start, but you can also use sites like VolunteerMatch to find opportunities in your area.
Need More Small-Business Ideas? Here Are a Few More
Few people are interested in trying to juggle full-time work with a side business in hopes of developing a really mediocre enterprise they can call their own. Building a business that really succeeds is, more often than not, the goal. Use these tips to grow a thriving, successful business.
Related: How to Start a Business
Write a Business Plan
Take the time to write your business plan on paper. It can help you focus and ensures you’ll be ready if potential investors come calling.
“The most important advice I give for starting a business is to write a detailed business plan, send it around to friends and business people you admire, get their feedback and then revise the plan,” said Wes Shannon, a certified financial planner at SJK Financial Planning. “Sometimes you might have to revise the plan three, four or more times. I did six revisions on my own plan. … A great template for a business plan can be found at www.sba.gov, the Small Business Administration’s website.”
Test the Waters
No matter how in love with your business plan you are, find ways to test your assumptions about the market in the real world before committing yourself to it.
“Most business startups fail,” said John Lagoudakis, founder of Web Agents Brisbane. “Eighty-five percent of them [fail] within the first five years. That’s pretty scary. You can avoid that by starting your business while still keeping your job. How does that help you? Because you have time to prove your business concept and not have the pressure of having to make it work.”
Listen to What the Market Tells You
There are much bigger things that will dictate the success or failure of your business than just you. Even the most talented entrepreneur is doomed if they aren’t taking in the advice that the market is doling out.
“[Another] issue is knowing whether or not there is a need and can the business be successful. Only the market can really tell, and this requires lots of doing, measuring and repeating to see what happens,” said Jennifer R. Glass, CEO at Business Growth Strategies International. “I often advise my clients to look at what they’re doing and only try out one new program/idea at a time in marketing their business so as to not confuse the metrics.”
Use a Subscription Model
A subscription model can be a great way to ensure a regular stream of income. It’s an easy way to track your success, and it allows you to schedule your side hustle around your main job. If possible, find a way to structure your service or product around a membership on the part of your consumers to keep your finances predictable and easy to track.
Use a Franchise Model
Of course, you don’t always have to build a business from the ground up. Buying into an existing franchise can be a way to get yourself into the game without spending most of your time building the groundwork and infrastructure.
“Consider starting your own business by buying a franchise,” said Ali Forman, marketing director with Franchise Business Review. “Franchising allows you to be an entrepreneur/business owner without having to start from scratch. A franchise offers proven systems, brand recognition and the support of your franchisor and the franchisee community behind you to help ensure your success.”
Forman pointed out there are many franchises you can own while still working your day job. “From home-based businesses like cruise planning, photography and house flipping to businesses that you can own while having employees manage the day-to-day details, such as a hair salon or retail business,” she said.
Give Your Business Time to Succeed
Rome was not built in a day. And, although your new business isn’t likely to reach the size of the Roman Empire, it’s still going to take time to really build up steam.
“My best tip is to give it time,” said McKinzie Bean, blogger and entrepreneur at MomsMakeCents.com. “So often, new business owners get frustrated when they aren’t getting results as quickly as they think they should. Businesses take time to build. Many times I’ve seen owners quit right before their breakthrough.”
“When you are getting started, commit to a certain time period where you are going to give it your all no matter what,” she said. “Maybe it is six months, a year, three years — the time period is up to you, but don’t give up too early.”
Ask Yourself, ‘What Do People Need?’
Every business must fulfill a need in the marketplace, so don’t overlook this consideration with your side hustle.
“Spend some time considering what those around you need,” said Sharon Woodhouse, owner and small-business coach with Conspire Creative. “Pay attention on your commute, at work, with your friends, with your family, in your neighborhood, where you shop, where you play. What are you hearing and overhearing? What are the unfilled needs and unsolved problems that surround you? … Keep notes on these things for days, weeks, months, until you stumble upon something that inspires you. When you can meet others’ needs and solve their problems in a way that’s a good fit for you, you’ve gone a long way to laying the groundwork for a profitable enterprise.”
Buy an Existing Business
Why start a new business when you can buy an existing one? Purchasing an existing business can mean stepping into the task of managing a working enterprise rather than having to build it from the ground up — something that might be a lot easier if you decide to keep your 9-to-5 job.
“While holding a full-time job at Procter & Gamble, I bought a small dog day care and boarding business,” said Derek Christian of Handyman Connection. “An existing business has clients, revenue and, importantly, employees. I did not need to be involved in the day to day and could concentrate on growing my business. There are many small businesses for sale for less than $50,000.”
Note What You Like About Your Full-Time Job (and Use It in Your Side Business)
Odds are, you wouldn’t be starting a small business unless you already have a pretty good idea of what you love about work. Figure out what really works at your current job, and bring it to your side hustle.
Whether it’s the approach to org charts or the weekly happy hour, you can bring parts of your job that you love with you. Note, however, that this doesn’t include things like legally protected intellectual property and/or office supplies — that’s just theft.
Note What You Hate About Your Full-Time Job (and Avoid It in Your Side Business)
Of course, it goes both ways. You also probably wouldn’t be starting your own business unless there are at least some aspects of your current position that aren’t completely satisfying. Even if they’re minor, starting your own shop is one way to change up anything from minor pet peeves to major organizational issues.
Assess Your Audience
Before you launch your side business, take the time to understand who your audience is and how you plan to cater to them. Figure out your customers’ needs so you can make those considerations central to your business plan and focus your leads from the get-go.
Analyze Your Time
Do you have the time to make a second business successful? The answer isn’t always yes, so it’s essential to have a clear sense of how much time you can make available, how much time a business would take and whether the latter fits into the former.
“If you are considering starting a business without leaving your current job, make sure you are realistic about the time you have available to commit to it, as well as looking at what you may need to sacrifice or put on hold, to make sure you have the time and energy,” said Clara Wilcox, founder of The Balance Collective. “A useful way to approach this is to time-block your current responsibilities and activities to see where your time and energy go now.”
Put a Dollar Value on Your Time
When every hour you’re working is precious, it’s important to know exactly how precious. Figure out exactly what your time is worth so you can get an accurate sense of how much you’re investing in your side business.
“To truly calculate your business’ return on investment, you must factor in the amount of time you spend on recurring tasks,” said Elijah-Blue Vieau, SEO manager at Logojoy. “How much, realistically, is your time worth to you? And with that mind, how much time do you spend on the recurring tasks [that] are required for you to operate your business? Though not a metric you should focus on in the testing phase of your business, it’s definitely something you want to measure as it grows.”
Track Expenses and Income Carefully — and Separately
With new income streams and expenses stemming from your business, it’s important to keep your accounting separate to get a clear view of where money is coming from and where it’s going.
“It is important to track the income from both the business and your job when starting a new business without quitting your job,” said David Reischer, attorney and CEO at LegalAdvice.com. “It is not uncommon to bootstrap a business with income from a job to start a new business, but be careful to set up an accounting system that tracks revenue derived from the business and not mix it up with income derived from the job source. Otherwise, without a proper accounting system that tracks where income is derived from, it will be difficult to create a profit and loss statement to determine whether a business is profitable.”
Scale Up Slowly
Growing too fast can be almost as disastrous as growing too slow, and that’s especially true if you plan on leaving your full-time job to focus solely on your business or side hustle in the distant future. Take time to assess how sustainable your successes are, and grow at a pace you can build on. Don’t let short-term successes push you to grow too fast.
“My best piece of advice to anyone looking to do the same is to slowly build momentum; don’t just jump into everything and anything at once,” said Yasmin Purnell, creator of The Wallet Moth. “Track the hours you’re working on your business, your income, any expenses and analyze these details before you scale anything up. Slowly building momentum means you’ll always be ready to shift gears in your business and never end up taking on too much — which can lead to unhappy clients and things falling apart before they’ve even started. Taking your time to build the foundation of your business while you still have a stable income will pay off when you eventually move on from your full-time job.”
Validate Your Business Idea
Given the level of commitment you’ll need to make your business succeed while still working full time at your job, you should validate that your business idea is a good one prior to kicking off your work.
“Another very important thing is to validate your business idea,” said Sumit Bansal, founder of Trump Excel. “It may seem an excellent one in your mind, but you need to check whether it is financially viable or not. Whatever your business is, try to get your first few customers — or make your first few bucks — as soon as possible. This will help validate that you have a potential business at hand. Once the validation is done, you can focus on growing it.”
Be Accountable to Yourself
You might have other people to keep you on task at your full-time job, but your side business will only go as far as you take it. That means you need to hold yourself accountable and stay focused.
“Lay out your weekly tasks in your personal Google Calendar or Outlook, schedule tasks like you would events, and set a time period to work on said tasks,” said Vieau of Logojoy. “Accountability of your time and what you spend it on can often be the difference between winning and losing. My time management sucked for many, many years, and only when I got a grip and understood the benefits of accountability did my income start to really grow. Make a schedule, write out a list and check things off. This is what forward motion feels like.”
Tell a Story
When you’re founding your own business, your efforts will be more likely to pay off if you can associate a narrative with your new product or service.
“You can also craft ‘your story’ in a way that will resonate with your target audience,” said Pete Sisco, founder of SafelyLeavetheRatRace.com. “The story of your business is critical to its success.”
For example, your story might be something like: “This was my problem. I felt like you feel. Here’s how I fixed it. My method can work for you.”
Most small businesses or side hustles are going to require startup cash — some more than others. Here are several ways to acquire the money and items you need to get going on your side hustle.
Start Saving With an Investment App
You might need to spend some time saving up cash before your side business is ready for liftoff. If that’s the case, don’t overlook the potential of using investment apps to help you save. Apps like Acorns can be programmed to make scheduled transfers from your checking accounts, allowing you to lock in your savings and grow your money through investments.
Investing does come with risk, but if your timeframe is long enough, the odds are good your returns will beat that of a savings account or CD.
Buy Used Equipment
You can go a long way toward reducing the considerable costs of starting a business by focusing on used equipment.
“A lot of people think it’s difficult and requires a lot of expensive, high-end equipment to start a business,” said Josh Peichoto, owner of Darn Fast Warranty Labels. “I purchased used equipment for less than $500 from an auction to start my business. It took me a couple of days and several YouTube videos to get it all set up and configured correctly. Now I have a professional production setup and saved thousands of dollars buying used and setting it up myself. This has also given me a really strong understanding of how the equipment works and how to repair it when something inevitably breaks.”
If your business requires startup funds, seeking out early investors can be a great way to make sure your idea is solidified even as you’re getting the funding you need. Not only is pitching to investors a chance to get a crucial sounding board for your ideas, but prepping your presentation also means polishing your business plan and doing plenty of planning prior to getting started.
Read More: How to Get an Angle Investor
Create a Crowdfunding Campaign
You can use crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter or Indiegogo to launch your business. Even just using the rewards system as a way to do a presale of your product is a solid way to help get things off the ground. Just ask Oculus Rift, which used Kickstarter to raise $2.4 million in 2012 and then sold to Facebook for a whopping $2 billion two years later.
And, if you’re interested in offering up equity in exchange for seed funding, equity crowdfunding sites allow you to use the crowdfunding model to find early investors.
Ask Friends to Trade Services for Favors
You can’t expect to be able to handle any and every task that comes with having your own side business, and you might quickly discover that hiring contractors for everything you can’t handle yourself adds up quickly. If you have friends with a skill set you can use, consider trying to trade favors for them to do some work on your side business. If your co-worker is ready to do your books in exchange for a batch of your grandma’s famous oatmeal cookies, well, then get baking.
Look Into a Business Loan
Getting startup capital is a key step for most business plans. Take the necessary steps — gather your financial statements, check your credit rating, etc. — to apply for a small business loan. If you can’t find someone willing to risk their money on your idea, you might need to spend more time polishing it or even reconsider investing more time into it.
Reach Out to Your Local SBA or Chamber of Commerce
If you’re trying to start your own small business — even if it’s a side hustle — you’ve got allies. Places like the Small Business Administration or Chamber of Commerce are there for you. There’s an abundance of resources readily available to entrepreneurs like yourself for free.
Starting a business on your own can be hard. Consider finding a partner who can bring in talented people to help grow your business.
“Choose good partners,” said Kevin Ferryman, senior vice president and director of Small Business Administration lending at Patriot Bank. “When you are starting a small business and working full time, you need partners with the expertise to assist your efforts and provide useful advice, such as experienced bankers, accountants and attorneys. Their support will save you time and clarify the process so that you can focus on the mission of your company.”
Go to Networking Events
You never know who will prove to be an invaluable resource to your burgeoning business, so take every opportunity to expand your network. Who knows? You might meet some potential investors at your next networking event.
“If you have a full-time job, make the most out of any networking opportunities that come your way,” said Frances Geoghegan, managing director of Healing Holidays. “A day job means you have plenty of chances to chat with colleagues and customers. Don’t stop there — try to network outside your company, too. Meet people who could make great employees for your new venture, save the contacts of people you meet who could be useful to your company. Advisers, employees, investors, partners, clients — they are all out there waiting for you to meet them.”
Ask Your Co-Workers If They Want In
A good working relationship can be hard to come by — that’s why smart companies invest heavily in recruiting.
It can be especially hard to know which prospective employees will be more like Gina, who’s an absolute machine at Excel, and which will be more like Carl, who dogs it on group projects. Don’t overlook your co-workers as potential allies in a new business venture. After all, you already know what they’re like to work with.
Of course, there’s no more pivotal piece to success at either your job or your side business than you. Self-improvement can be the key to setting yourself up for success as a business owner.
Find Gaps to Build Skills
One of the best things you can do for your business is to build the skill set that it needs. Any skill you can master means one less contractor or part-time employee you need to keep things running smoothly.
“One very worthwhile thing to do that will contribute to the success of your future business is to think about where there may be gaps in your skills and experience,” said Ben Taylor, founder of HomeWorkingClub. “Perhaps you need to learn the basics of bookkeeping, how to maintain a company website or how to promote your business on social media. Thankfully, there’s loads of fantastic online training available, some of it completely free and much of it very inexpensive. And it’s easy to fit such training into evenings and weekend.”
Use Freelancing to Build Skills
If you have a great idea for a side hustle but know there are some gaps in your skill set, consider taking on freelance work to develop those skills. You can develop yourself as a business owner and get paid to do it, all while potentially building your network of potential clients and partners.
Educate Yourself in Your Downtime
When your time is at a premium, using every opportunity to prepare yourself as a business owner is important.
“One of the most important things while launching a business while you have a full-time job is to use dead time wisely,” said Jonaed Iqbal, founder and CEO of NoDegree.com. “I would classify dead time as the time between activities. So your morning/evening commute, waiting for your laundry, waiting for a friend and other similar activities. The go-to activity is to either browse your phone aimlessly or listen to the radio/music. When I was starting NoDegree.com, I made sure to read or listen to podcasts. I would be reading books on marketing, businesses, startups, account and other topics that I needed to learn about. Even if my commute got delayed, it wasn’t bad as I was still being productive.”
Learn From Your Mistakes
A mistake or error in judgment is to be expected in any enterprise, so don’t let missteps get you down. Learn from them to build your skills.
“Accept the fact that you’re going to make mistakes,” said Barry Kronhaus, president of Discount Packaging Depot. “It’s okay to make mistakes. It’s not okay to repeatedly make the same mistake. Get through it, learn from it and make a plan so it doesn’t happen again.”
Go to Night School
If your side business is going to require skills you don’t have, it doesn’t have to be a deal breaker. Not only can you attend night school to fill whatever knowledge gaps you’re dealing with, but you’ll get a taste of what it will be like to put in the additional hours after work. If taking night school classes on accounting is more than you can handle, the odds are good that a side hustle might not be for you.
Find a Mentor
Guidance from someone with experience in your field is always a good idea, and that can be even more important when you’re building your own firm from the ground up. Having a mentor with experience starting their own business can help you prioritize your efforts and avoid pitfalls.
Participate in Free Workshops for Entrepreneurs
When you’re starting your own side business, you’re taking a big step into becoming an entrepreneur. No matter how well you might feel like you know your field, running your own shop is going to come with a lot of new kinks that you might not be able to anticipate. Taking advantage of nearby free workshops and seminars to build your skills as an entrepreneur can be a great way to prepare yourself,
Learn to Code
Learn to code, and you’ll have a lot more options. Whether you want to build your own app or put together software that’s specific to your field, knowing how to write computer programs will equip you to build a business in a digital world.
Use Your Full-Time Job to Build Skills You’ll Need
Your current job doesn’t have to get in the way of your side hustle. In fact, in an ideal world, one hand can wash the other. Don’t assume that every aspect of your business and job have to remain separate — look for opportunities to take on work projects that will build skills you can apply to your side hustle.
Whether you’re looking to build a following for your blog or bring on more clients for your consulting service, getting your business and your brand out there is crucial to success. And it requires some strategy. Here are some tips to get you started.
Set Up Your Own Website
Virtually any business you can name will benefit from a strong web presence, even if it’s just an informational platform. Set up your own site as soon as you’re ready to start courting customers.
“The first thing I recommend is setting up a website as soon as possible,” said Stacy Caprio, founder of Accelerated Growth Marketing. “This is key because it will allow you to start optimizing for keywords you want to target and start getting free traffic … the site will take time to build authority and start ranking, so the sooner you get it up the better.”
Sell on Etsy or eBay
If your small business or side hustle involves selling products, consider selling them on sites like Etsy or eBay. From homemade soaps to rigs for mining cryptocurrency, if your labor has value, you can seek out a market for it online. And, if you have a passion for a particular craft but have always wondered whether it could be a career, you can get a clear sense of what your work will sell for before investing more time and resources.
Sell at Local Art Fairs, Farmers Markets and Other Events
If you’re an artisan looking to make that hobby into a side hustle, one great place to test the market is going to be at local art fairs, farmers markets or other community events. People from your locale can see your work in person and get to know you, giving you a chance to build a smaller local following that you can leverage into something larger or just use to sustain your modest side business.
Test Out Products and Services on Co-Workers
If you’re interested in feeling out the market for your product, you have a test audience right at your disposal in your office. Testing out the results of your new side gig on the co-workers from your main gig can be a great way to smooth out the kinks in the early stages. You’ll get feedback from people you know and a sense of how excited potential consumers are going to be about your work.
Utilize Reddit to Learn About Your Customers
Virtually any topic in the known universe has its own “subreddit.” You can use these networks of like-minded individuals to learn about your potential customers on a granular level and in their own words. Drill down into the people you plan to cater to, and make sure you understand what’s motivating them so you can speak their language when your side hustle is up and running.
Participate in Online Contests
Competing in online contests is a great way to test out a product, showcase your skills and get your brand out there. Not only will you make your work more visible, but you can win over customers or potential allies. Not to mention, winning contests could be proof that your business plan is working.
Throw a Party to Showcase the New Business
Whatever side business you settle on, throwing a party to showcase your new endeavor is a good idea. If your business is consumer-facing, it’s a great way to start building your brand and a following. Plus, a party is a nice way to thank your loved ones for helping you start your own business and develop business relationships.
Don’t Burn Your Bridges
Even if your main reason for starting your side business is a dream of someday leaving your current job, try not to damage any of your important work relationships in the process as they could be important to your new business.
“My first client, when I finally left my job to go full time on my own, was my last employer,” said Josh Rubin, owner and CEO of Post Modern Marketing. “By being honest and straightforward the entire time, I was able to leverage the fact that I did great work for them while an employee — earning their trust as a consultant. Do everything respectfully and honestly, and you’ll keep a good reputation while you’re off on your own.”
Build Your Social Media Presence
Social media is a powerful tool, and you’ll most likely need to use it in your side gig. Building a following on social media can be an important way to develop your brand and build important connections, or it might even just be a good way to build leads. Either way, having some social media savvy is most likely going to be a major asset if you’re working a side gig.
Attend Social Events
If your only experience is as an employee at an existing business, you might be underestimating just how important a business network is to operating your own business. You never know when a relationship can end up benefiting your business. By attending networking and social events, you might meet potential clients who can help you grow your side hustle.
One of the biggest hurdles to any side hustle or small business is managing your full-time job without neglecting your business. Here are some tips to help you juggle both seamlessly.
Block Off Time
Set aside prescribed times when you will be working on your business to ensure your full-time work doesn’t consume your part-time passion.
“Fully utilize your calendar to block off time for your current job, new business and your family rather than handling things as they come up,” said Eric Vogt, wealth counselor and certified financial planner at Waldron Private Wealth. “Often, people feel they don’t have enough time to get everything done. But if you actually block time off, focusing on one area at a time allows you to use your time more efficiently, and you may find you had more time than you thought.“
Automate What You Can
Where possible, set up systems to keep your business running smoothly without direct action on your part.“[If] someone is running an online store and there is a drop-ship solution in place for orders, that individual doesn’t have to spend as much time running the business because the processes are there to run as planned,” said Glass of Business Growth Strategies International.
Be Honest With Your Employer
It’s possible that calling attention to your new business will create issues at work. However, you should still try to be open with your employer about your plans. There’s a good chance they won’t take issue as long as it doesn’t conflict with your duties. In fact, they might even offer you some support.
“If you are starting a new business while working a full-time job, you are probably an overachiever and at the least, a solid employee, possibly even a rock star employee,” said Mark Huntley of IfYouBuildIt.com. “This gives you some advantages, such as your employer really doesn’t want to lose you. Be honest with your boss, and let them know you are starting a new business. In both of my experiences, I let my employer know my goals and in this latest venture, I even told them that my plan was to leave the company by the end of 2018.“
Don’t Neglect Your Job
Of course, starting a business without quitting your job is certainly easier if you just stop giving your job the time and energy it needs. Resist that urge, though, as it’s probably not worth it in the end.
“One of the worst things that can happen when trying to start a business while having a job is getting fired from said job,” said Vieau of Logojoy. “Ensure that you’re present at work and hitting those KPIs. Don’t be an idiot and call in sick all the time because you want that raise next year. More money at your day job means more money to invest into your business.“
Be the Best Employee Possible
You can minimize any potential friction at work by giving your employer no reason to complain. Someone who does their job and does it well usually won’t ruffle any feathers by working their own business on the side.
“Sometimes it’s hard to get excited about doing your daily employee duties when you have a new business of your own,” said Huntley. “But, it is important to remember that the salary is what is allowing you to chase your dream of owning your own business. A good employer is going to want what is best for a good employee even if that means they may lose that employee. Don’t burn the bridge because it is much easier to have them support you than push you out before you are ready.”
Manage Your PTO and Vacation Time Carefully
Your paid time off and vacation time take on new importance when you’re trying to build your own business. Be sure you’re planning your time off around both of your jobs.
“With a new company, there will be instances where you need to take a day off to meet a deadline, meet with a prospect or meet with a customer,” said Huntley. “If you have already used your PTO/vacation time for vacations and questionable sick days, this can cause serious problems. … I have used a bunch of scheduled vacation time to better my marketing agency’s content and meet some last-minute deadlines.”
Set Clear Boundaries
One way to be sure you aren’t letting your side hustle interfere with your main job — and vice versa — is by establishing clear boundaries.
“After telling your employer [about your business], assure them that you are not going to be working on your business while they are paying for your time,” said Rubin of Post Modern Marketing. “You’ll be excited and motivated to work on your new company, but keep those boundaries clear — and be willing to put it into writing to assure your boss that you’re doing everything on the up-and-up.”
Shift to Part Time or Work From Home
To make time for your side business, see if you can work out a new schedule with your employer that will allow you to scale back at your current job. Or, if you need to stay full time, consider working nontraditional hours or telecommuting periodically. Either way, don’t automatically assume your boss won’t let you take on a more flexible schedule.
Plenty of full-time jobs can feel like they’re, well, over-full. Adding your own business to the equation can be a quick way to burn yourself out if you don’t follow these tips.
Hire a Virtual Assistant
Your time is most likely at a premium when you’re trying to start a business while still working full time, so offload as much as possible to a virtual assistant who can handle the tasks that don’t require your direct attention.
“The administrative tasks of a business can be overwhelming,” said Amanda Abella, owner and creator of AmandaAbella.com. “As soon as your business is set up and stable, consider hiring a virtual assistant to handle these tasks. This will allow you to focus on the things that bring in money.“
Outsource Sales Management
When your business is beginning to scale, plan on outsourcing your sales management so you can stay focused on more important issues and keep a dedicated sales staff working for you even when you aren’t.
“I often suggest to clients I coach that they retain an outsourced sales development team to be able to get the sales and earn a percentage of the revenues generated as commissions,” said Glass.
Few things matter as much to someone balancing their job with a business as being able to prioritize their time and know when they’re at their most productive.
“When working in a full-time job, you’re likely to be short on time,” said Bansal of Trump Excel. “While you would want to spend most of your time on your side hustle, your job work will take priority on most days. In such a case, it’s best to grow your side hustle by focusing on the most important things. Apply the Pareto principle and identify what are the top 15 percent to 20 percent things that you can do in your side hustle that will have the maximum impact.”
Focus on the Right Channel
Any time you start a business without quitting your job, you’re in serious danger of spreading yourself too thin. Get a clear sense of where your time is most valuable, and make sure you’re focusing there.
“When you’re building a business alongside a full-time job, time is your most valuable (and limited) resource,” said Austin Belcak founder of Cultivated Culture. “If you try to spread it across six channels, you’re going to be mediocre at all of them. Instead, find the channel that has the largest impact on your business, forget about everything else and completely dial into that.”
If you aren’t truly passionate about what you’re doing in your side business, the odds that you’re going to keep finding the time and energy to do it alongside your other responsibilities are pretty slim.
“My first side hustle, and the first dollar I earned online, was building and flipping WordPress websites,” said Vieau. “I love WordPress and actually considered getting their logo as a tattoo for many years (still not off the table). Picking something I was passionate about (and eagerly learning) really helped me keep my eyes on the prize and prove my concept.”
Don’t Cut Out Sleep
It might seem like the only way to fit both a side business and a job into the same schedule is simply to cut out sleep, but that’s a recipe for burning out and failing in both capacities.
“It’s too easy to treat your available time as infinite since you can always get less sleep and put more hours in. But sleep and free time are important for your health, sanity and productivity,” said Joe Goldstein, director of SEO and operations at Contractor Calls. “Schedule times to start, and also to stop, working on your side projects.”
Remember Why You’re Doing This
Knowing what’s motivating you to undertake something as difficult as starting a business, let alone starting one while still working at your job, is important. If you know what it is, you’ll have a source of inspiration when you need to stay motivated.
“As a woman who started a business without quitting her day job, I believe the most important tip to doing this is to identify and focus on you ‘why,'” said Omobola, CEO of Feyi Fay. “Why are you starting a business and why do you need or want to keep your job at the same time? Are you starting your business to fulfill a long-held dream of yours, or is there a larger mission you are trying to achieve? … Focusing on your ‘why’ is extremely important because there are days when you will want to quit. Trust me, I know. … But if you focus on your ‘why,’ it will always (or at least in most cases) keep you on the right path.”
More on Starting a Business
- 30 Hottest Cities for New Businesses
- How to Find Your Side Hustle Sweet Spot
- 101 Ways to Make Money Without a 9-to-5