In my book, “Before You Quit Your Job,” I share how I felt on the day I quit my job to become a full-time entrepreneur:
One of the most frightening days of my life was the day I quit my job and officially became an entrepreneur. On that day, I knew there were no more steady paychecks, no more health insurance or retirement plans. No more days off for being sick or paid vacations.
On that day, my income went to zero. The terror of not having a steady paycheck was one of the most frightening experiences I had ever experienced. Worst of all, I did not know how long it would be before I would have another steady paycheck.
Very often, it is this very fear of not having a steady income that holds most people back from starting a business. Perhaps you’ve faced this fear yourself.
When I was young, in the pre-internet days, there weren’t nearly as many ways to have a business on the side. It was generally an all-or-nothing proposition. Today, however, technology gives want-to-be business owners a distinct advantage. It’s easier than ever to start small and smart, building a business on the side while still having the security of a paycheck.
The following are seven ways to start a business without quitting your job.
1. Turn your hobby into a business.
First off, starting a business is going to take a lot of your time. So, you might as well do something you enjoy. Take a look at how you spend your free time. What are you really passionate about? Maybe it’s cooking. Now, find a way to make money doing it.
Can you start a blog? Document your creation process and write about the food you cook. You do it anyway, so it should be fun to share your skills with the world. And you’ll probably meet others who share your passions. Better yet, can you sell a recipe e-book? Compile your 100 best recipes, and sell the e-book for $5.
If cooking isn’t your thing, find out what is and find a way to make money doing it. It won’t even feel like work.
2. Focus on product, not services.
A lot of employees’ first thought is to take the skills they use in the business world and offer them as a consultant — in short, to build a service business. The problem with a service business, especially if it’s on the side, is that you don’t own a business; you simply own a job.
Services are a tough business because you have to sell your time. If you’re not working, you’re not making money. And when you work full time, pulling long freelance hours is a surefire way to burn out.
Rather than sell services, figure out a way to create a product. If it’s consulting, put together a course that you can sell. Or, if you’re a writer, create books that you can sell. Many writers sell their books on Amazon as e-books for $1 a copy and generate income even while they’re sleeping.
The trick is to look at what services you can provide and find the product angle. If you can do that, you’ll be making money even when you’re not working. That’s a true side hustle.
3. Learn how to invest.
Another way to build a great side business is to build an investing business.
I know a couple, for instance, who have a passion for real estate. Together, they’ve learned how to find the perfect single-family houses to turn into room shares. So far, while working full time, they’ve purchased six houses. With each one, cash flows significantly, thanks to their business model. And better yet, they’re paying off the debt on their assets. It’s their retirement plan to have a portfolio of cash-flowing houses that are completely paid off.
This requires some time investing in your financial education, as well as making it a priority to save money for investing. But once you get in the game, the sky is the limit. And it can all be done easily in your free time.
4. Work on your business, not in it.
The temptation for those running a side business is to do all the work themselves. But a much better way is to find quality contractors or even an employee or two who can work in the business. That way, you can spend your time managing them and building the business.
For instance, I know a writer who frequently takes on freelance jobs, sub-contracts them to a team of writers, reviews the final product and enjoys the profit margin. In this way, he can do multiple jobs that he could never do on his own, each making money while he works as an employee during the day.
Another person I know owns a shipping company and a fleet of trucks. He hires drivers to do the long-hour drives, and his time is spent lining up jobs and managing the business on the weekends and in the evenings.
By focusing on working on your business from the get-go, you’ll be able to grow and build your company to be more than just a side gig.
5. Assemble a great team.
A lot of part-time business owners are cheap. They try and save money on things like accounting and legal. But because they’re not trained in those things, they end up costing them more in the long run in terms of time — and sometimes in lawsuits and tax liens.
Find great team members and use them. Get a good CPA. Find a great attorney. If you’re investing in real estate, use a reputable and successful broker. Focus on what you can do best, and let others do the rest for you.
6. Own your schedule.
A common excuse for not starting a business is that you don’t have time. This is bull. Most people, if they did an audit of how they spent their time, would see that they have ample time to work on a side business. The problem is that most people are owned by their schedule rather that owning their schedule.
If you want to run a successful business while working full time, you need to become an expert at productivity and time management. Cut the TV time, stop going out for drinks and buckle down. You’d be surprised what the work you do in an hour or two in the evenings and a half-day on Saturday can do for you.
7. Leverage technology.
Finally, there is a ton of technology out there to help cut many tasks that used to take hours to a mere matter of seconds, in some cases.
Research and utilize a solid CRM and marketing automation software to automate many of your mundane emails, and accounting software like QuickBooks — which integrates with your smartphone — to keep track of expenses and income on the go. Use a service like Shoeboxed to scan your important documents and make them searchable. Employ project management software to help manage your team of experts and contractors. The possibilities are endless.
At the end of the day, the time will come — if you follow the advice above — when you’ll still have to quit your job. So count the cost if you truly want to be an entrepreneur. But the good news is you can have a great head start. Today, it’s entirely possible to build a great business while working full time. Start today, and build a great tomorrow.
This article originally appeared on RichDad.com.