You might be thinking that to start your own business will involve endless hours of workand years of commitment. Well, the truth is that most businesses do require lots of effort. But there are plenty of other types of businesses that you can start on the side or part-time, and get up and running in a number of days. Most of these business ideas require only a small investment; many of them require little if any expertise; and many of them you can operate from your home.
The key to finding an easy to start business or a business that you can run part time is to carefully choose a business. Don’t just choose a business because it sounds like fun. Choose one that will also fit how much energy and time you want to put into the business.
Is it really realistic to think that you can find an exciting business that you can easily start and run part-time? Sure, it is. When I was in college, I started at least one business on every summer vacation. Sometimes I started two or three. This was just during a 12-week vacation time.
What kind of businesses did I start? One year it was bicycle rentals. Another year I bought and sold boats. Another year it was house painting. One business, a map business I even started on a 6-week winter holiday vacation. I came up with the concept for the map, created it, sold advertising on the map, and took initial orders all in the time period from Thanksgiving to Christmas.
I can also give you examples of businesses I ran part time at school. During my sophomore year at college I started a newspaper. I knew nothing about newspapers so got a job doing proofreading at the school newspaper for about one hour a week for 3 weeks so that I could figure out how it was done. Then presto! With several friends, I launched a newspaper business.
When I was at Business School, I operated several phone books and started a book publishing company in my spare time.
To be sure my choice of part-time businesses was not based upon the easiest or the least time consuming businesses. But my point still stands. There are plenty of businesses out there that you can succeed in part-time.
Even though you may be thinking of a part-time business, I strongly recommend that you bring the rigor and discipline to the planning process as you would a full-time business. My favorite question in business is: “What’s your plan?” I believe that every business from a casual lemonade stand on up should have some kind of business plan.
It’s not so important that your business plan is long, complete and detailed. What’s more important is that you have given thought and weighed alternatives for key decisions. How is your business going to be different than your competitors? On what basis are you going to compete? What is your marketing plan going to be? How much money are you going to budget for starting your business?
I believe especially with a part-time business, that you should set a hard limit for the maximum amount of money that you are willing to invest in your business. But doing this you not only limit your risk. But you also limit your fear. You know how bad the very worst case could be. Limiting your fears is an important tool for you, to help you feel more positive about starting a business. Make sure you write down how much money you are willing to invest.
Be realistic. Have you really budgeted enough money to get the business off the ground? No matter how carefully you budget out every expense to start your business, there will always be cost overruns on the items that you budgeted and you will also run into expenses that you never thought about.
But you also don’t want to keep pouring money into a business endlessly. Many people will have in their mind an amount to start a business, but then once they have spent that amount they will just keep pouring money into the business endlessly. Don’t you be one of those people. Set up a realistic limit on how much you are willing to invest and then stay with it-at least until you hit a positive measurable milestone that indicates your business is succeeding.
A business plan allows you to bring your thoughts together in a cohesive way and it can force you to consider the many critical elements needed to bring your business to life. Sometimes by doing a business plan, you may decide that the business you were planning on starting doesn’t look so appealing after all. That’s OK. Sometimes in business the most important decision is what business not to start. And there is always another great business idea for you lurking around the corner!
Bob Adams is a serial entrepreneur and founder of BusinessTown.com