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How To Live As A Part-Time Entrepreneur

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You have worked hard to get where you are in your career. Fourteen-hour days, missed weekends, cancelled vacations—you’ve undergone it all to get up the corporate ladder. But lately, it has occurred to you that pinning all your hopes on your future in the company is a mistake. As crisis after crisis has shown, even brand name companies can go under in a matter of days. Then what? What will you have if the firm you’ve dedicating your life to lets you down?

Many of us found ourselves asking such questions after the 2008 downturn. The headlines focused mostly on the financial firms that were going belly up at the time. But the onset of the Great Recession affected other industries as well. I was working for the U.S. arm of a major international consultancy. The company went bankrupt because it couldn’t raise the liquidity necessary to service its debts. This all happened quite suddenly—without warning. One day we were being told of the lucrative contracts for which we were competing and those already in the pipeline. The next day I was on a conference call with my boss and his boss getting the sack.

What happened to me and thousands of other highly educated, white collar professionals can happen to you—at any time. The morale: don’t put all of your eggs in one basket, or, to update the metaphor a bit: don’t put all your charge in one battery. Dedicate some of your time and energy to building up your own business portfolio.

You may not have the savings, the temperament, or the willingness to simply cut loose from a well-paying job and start your own business. Nor should you have to. There are serious risks to giving up everything you’ve worked for to leap into an unknown future. Part-time entrepreneurship can be a way of holding on to what you have while creating something new—something that you own and control.

Being a part-time entrepreneur is not an easy choice. But the following tips can help you do it well.

First, you should find a co-founder of your little business. Whether it is real estate, virtual retail, or consulting, you should find someone with skills that compliment yours. You may know nothing about the real estate market, but you do know how to budget and organize. Find someone who knows the industry. This will make it easier to debate alternatives and strategize. If you are putting up most of the capital or have raised it under your name, you may still want to be the final decision-maker. But the point is you’ve found an equal.

Second, you must schedule fixed times during which to work on your venture. It is a bad idea to work at random times. Commit to a specific weekend time and a few nights during the week.

Third, you should set realistic goals and milestones. The time and energy you dedicate to your business is necessarily limited. Don’t expect a windfall straightaway. Know what is reasonable to expect given the amount of work you’re putting into the project.

Finally, you must make learning a vocation. Learn everything there is to know about the industry you’re getting involved in and all subjects related to it. The more you know about the larger forces and conditions driving your business the better placed you’ll be to take advantage of them.

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About Christopher Reid Chris was born in Washington, D.C. and lives in Britain. He works as a blogger, essayist, and novelist. His first book, Tea with Maureen, has just been published.

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