Imagine this scene: your deadline to submit the completed project to your biggest client from your part-time business is tomorrow and you plan to work all night long to finish the work. However, your boss from your day job tells you that a rush project came along, and that you may need to go on overtime to finish the work for a management presentation at 8:00 am the following day. If you do well on this assignment, a promotion is guaranteed!
Oppps! How do you now divide yourself to do both tasks one from your job, and another from your part-time business that have the same deadline and same level of importance?
This is simply one of the myriad challenges that a part-time business owner faces. It is not easy to balance full-time work with the demands of a new business.
The ideal situation would be to have a job that provides enough leeway and time to allow you to dabble on a business on the side. Alas, that is not always the case. You will often find yourself faced with seemingly insurmountable odds when you try to do both at the same time.
Below are some tips to help you achieve a successful balancing act when trying to start a business while working on a job full-time:
1. Be open to your boss at work about your business. It is best to tell your bosses about your business. Of course, owning up about a sideline business depends on the dynamics of your relationship with your boss. Generally speaking, however, conflicts and problems can be avoided if there is no secrecy about either job. Make sure that you reassure your boss that your business will not affect your productivity at work, and that no resources of the company will be used for your business.
In many instances, telling your boss about your business demonstrates to them that you have other skills and capabilities that are not being tapped in your present job. With the new knowledge, better opportunities may open for you that will make use of your previously undisclosed talents.
2. Do not compete for clients. One cardinal rule of balancing full time work with part time business is that you must not compete and steal your day job’s clients (unless you want to be booted off). Doing so violates an important rule of work ethics; and breaks the trust of the management.
3. Schedule and plan your time accordingly. The toughest part of starting a business while working is finding enough time to do both jobs well. It is particularly difficult when you face tremendous pressure in your job to provide the highest caliber of performance, particularly in situations when you are up for promotion or you have just been given additional responsibilities. If your job demands that you work 12 hours every day, it may be extremely tough to provide your part-time business with the attention it needs.
Take a realistic look at your work schedule. Make sure that your working hours do not overlap. If you do need to check on your business during your working hours at your job, do so discreetly. You boss may give you leeway, and even support your business, if he knows that your work is not affected and you are still able to give a good performance. You may be able to check your answering machine and make some phone calls to clients (from your own cell phone, of course) during slack time. Or you may be able to use your lunch break to check and respond to the emails that you received from your business.
4. Keep your commitments realistic. Assess your schedule and ensure that your commitments to deliver services or products are realistic. You will often find yourself walking on a tightrope, trying to balance the need to deliver fast and quick service on one hand, and the need to provide high quality work on the other. Accept the fact that you will always have a limited amount of time that you can spend on your part-time business.
Understand how your tight schedule can affect your capability to cater to your customers. There will be times when you will be pressured to deliver the product or service to the client just to meet the deadline, without putting in the time needed to ensure that your product is of the best possible quality. Customers are usually impatient, and if you’re slow to produce, your company’s reputation could be compromised.
5. Seek the support of your family members. Discuss with your family your plans to continue working at your job full-time while starting a business on the side. It is important that your family members know and understand the impact of working at basically two jobs. They should be aware of the pressure, commitment and risks of having dual work schedules. If you get their support, you may even expect your family to help you run the business and delegate some operational aspects to them.
6. Use technology to help you run your business. If you are trying to balance work with business, technology should be your best friend. Make full use of available technology. Answering machines, cell phones, fax machines, email and other technological devices can make your life easier and much more manageable. Clients from your business can reach you (discreetly) during on-the-job hours.
Make sure, though, that you are using YOUR own machines. To the extent possible, avoid using your company’s fax machine to receive your personal faxes and do not give out your work email to your personal clients. You should also be aware of your company’s policy regarding the use of personal email accounts during business hours. Many companies are now monitoring email use of their employees, and some have even banned access to free email sites like Hotmail and Yahoo.
7. Take care of yourself. The demands of a full-time job and a part-time business can take its toll on you. Your fatigue and stress levels may hit stratospheric proportions at times, and you better be prepared for this. Get enough sleep as much as you can. If you stay up late at night working on your business and then go to work at 7 am the following day, it will soon catch up with you. Your productivity will go down, affecting your full-time work and the chances for success of your part-time business. Worse, your health can also be affected. Learn when to push yourself, but also learn to listen to your body when it tells you to rest.
It is possible to be an employee of a company, while starting your sojourn to self-employment. However, this balancing act requires coordination and careful planning. Otherwise, you run the risk of losing your job, or failing in a business that is yet to take off the ground.
When you have a part-time business while employed full-time, there will times when both will demand your undivided attention. Here are some tips to help you achieve a successful balancing act when trying to start a business while working on a job full-time.
by Lyve Alexis Pleshette