All entrepreneurs know the struggle of trying to start a new business and grow into a success. Even more difficult is starting a new business while you’re still working at a 9-5 gig. Though running a business on the side has its own set of challenges, it is nothing you cannot conquer without grit and a little smart planning. Here are 5 ways you can get yourself positioned to quit your full-time job for your new business.
1. Get Smart With Money
If you pay your bills on time and support yourself financially, you already know the tenants of how to be prudent with money. To transition your business from a side venture into a full-fledged operation, you need to be even smarter when it comes to saving funds. First of all, take a hard look at where you are spending your money now and be very realistic about what you need and don’t need. You do need to eat three square, wholesome meals a day. You do not need to go out to dinner once a week. You need to get some exercise to maintain both physical and mental health during this especially stressful time. You don’t need an expensive gym membership where you shell out hundreds of dollars for the privilege of being able to flip car tires and hurl ropes with other sweaty, grunting human beings. Make sacrifices everywhere you can.
If you haven’t already, open a separate account with your bank that’s just for your new business. Separating your business funds from the money you use to pay for gas, groceries, and rent will force you to see how much of a financial commitment a side gig is. This is not to discourage or dissuade you, but to help you get insight into the health of your side gig and be wise about saving money.
Aside from making changes to your spending, boost your capital with crowdsourcing platforms like Kickstarter and Indiegogo. Kickstarter supports projects, artists, and movements. If your business has a social or societal goal – like launching a line of jewelry that supports artisans from impoverished areas – you may be eligible. Indiegogo tends to have looser rules, but also less traffic than Kickstarter. Check them both out and decide which is best for you.
2. Automate Everything
You’re already working full-time and trying to run a side gig – don’t waste time on any task that software or freelancers can do. Content marketing is essential to building an audience and gaining speed with SEO. Check out Contently to hire freelance writers to produce content for your blog, as well as guest posts for the blogs of experts in your industry. You can even hire freelancers to produce stacks of social media content and schedule it all on Hootsuite so that you never have to worry about it. Email automation tools like Mailchimp are essential to building a strong email marketing strategy that will lead to better sales. Apps like Square will allow you to take your business with you wherever you go, and inventory and order management software will streamline back-end processes and update your product quantities in real time.
3. Use Every Spare Moment You’ve Got
One of the biggest complaints we hear from entrepreneurs that are transitioning from a 9-5 is that there just aren’t enough hours in the day. We agree, and we sympathize. Unfortunately, there is no flashy solution to this – the only way to make it through is with grit, determination and a whole lot of sacrifice. It’s really as simple (and un-sexy) as that. As serial entrepreneur, Gary Vaynerchuk says, “Everybody has time. Stop watching [expletive] Lost.”
Stop wasting time doing things that don’t help your business. Sure, maintain your sanity, but do not binge watch House of Cards if you’re trying to become profitable. Do what you can to streamline operations and save time. Anticipate your customer’s needs and address them on your site. Create an FAQ page that answers common questions, offer a guest checkout to streamline the order process and provide an order confirmation page to assure buyers that their purchase was completed. These early stages of growing your business will be grueling, but the hard work pays off. If you need a little motivation, check out this video about a former software employee who quit his 9-5 to pursue his entrepreneurial passion.
4. Find What’s Working and Make It Better
Determine what outlets or channels are working for your business right now, and put more of your time, efforts and money into that endeavor. Are you killing it with social media marketing? Post more often, and check out Twitter and Facebook advertising. Targeting the right audience with PPC (pay per click) advertising? Up your spending budget. Later on, you’ll have the time and resources to get creative and try new mediums to gain shoppers. But for now, don’t try to reinvent the wheel. Take what’s already working and make it explode.
5. Get The Locals Involved
Don’t focus on getting global or even national attention just yet. That can come later. Right now, get your community involved. Take your product to farmer’s markets and craft fairs. If there are concerts, festivals, races, etc. in your town, sign up to be a vendor. Get out and talk to people. If you can get the community personally invested in your business, you can organically generate some buzz. If vendor booths are too expensive, see if there is another small business who’d be willing to share a booth with you. Aligning yourself with a compatible company for the short term could even help you jumpstart growth. You’d have a wider range of resources and connections and could do some co-marketing to help get the word out.
As we’ve said, the guaranteed way to get through the tough transition of quitting a 9-5 for a new business is through persistence and perseverance. It’s going to be tough, but others before you, with fewer resources, helpful tools, and social platforms, have done it successfully. Keep your nose to the ground and don’t lose focus. You will get through it, and you will leave your full-time job for a successful new venture. You’ve got what it takes, so get to it.
Nick Maglosky is the CEO of ecomdash, a multichannel inventory, order, and listing software for e-commerce retailers. He’s a devoted Ohio fan and hopes to witness a Cleveland Browns championship in his lifetime. He’s also the last tech CEO to own a Blackberry.