Thanks to technology nearly anyone can now run a side business in their spare time. From cleaning gardens on weekends to part-time consulting, you are now only limited by your imagination to create. Your day job (or night job) doesn’t have to be your only means of income and you don’t have to stress and sleep less if you want to run a successful side business.
At Zenneo Design we have helped many people create and grow their side businesses. The reason we are so good at this and can achieve great results for our clients is that we too started off as a side business, so we know first-hand what it’s like. All our employees have either worked or still work their full-time jobs even if their passion in life is design and helping others to grow their business. This insight and years of finding the best way to manage multiple jobs, family and general life have enabled us to create amazing shortcuts that work. Nothing like getting straight to the point and just getting it done. The below 3 tips may be considered basic, but unfortunately for so many businesses getting the basic things wrong is why they’re not around anymore.
Organisation and time management
Perhaps the most important skill when running your side business is the ability to manage your time. This means going back to basics and having a plan and making the most of ‘spare time’. If you want to run a business on the side would you do it for free? Having a passion for what you do makes a big difference and helps psychologically defend against all those late nights and busy weekends. However, simply being busy doesn’t mean being successful. Set aside time every week for administration tasks, paying bills, getting in touch with people etc. It may seem pointless but if you do the big tasks such as your accounting and administration weekly, bit by bit, then you never have a huge load build up. This can definitely have an impact on motivation too and result in the type of customer service you provide. Train yourself to think positive about all your business tasks because it all contributes to the success of your side business. If we link a negative feeling to a task we tend to downplay its importance. This introduces behaviours like procrastination and the good old ‘ I’ll do that later, no problem’, however, we delay and delay until its either due the next day or so backlogged we have to rush through it. This usually ends in errors and having to spend time redoing work. Organise your time and learn to make time for your business while forcing yourself to think positively about each task you do until it becomes a habit. You chose to start a side business which means you understand that in the beginning some sacrifices need to be made, but there is time to do the important things if you plan and organise them. There are simple tools you can use such as chunking to help go through your priorities and make sure you have all your bases covered. Start by writing down everything you need to do, for your business, relationship, personal life, your other job etc. This helps get all your thoughts down so you don’t have to worry about juggling them in your head while you’re trying to focus on something. Next group all those things in about 6-10 topics. Once you’ve completed that you now have about 6-10 things you need to do not 50. With that completed, you can now prioritise, delegate and organise how your time will be spent completing that work.
Self-education and improvement
In our globalised world, there are hundreds if not thousands of online resources, courses and workshops to help you keep up to date with current trends and possibly gain insight into future trends in your chosen industry. There is always something to learn. Period. From marketing to design, to providing better services to psychology and so on. You can’t know everything but you can know enough to help make an informed decision. Whether it’s realising you need to hire an expert or how to save money in one area of your business so you can better invest it in another. As a small business owner education and self-improvement are key to your businesses longevity and overall success.
This doesn’t mean you have to sign up to 4 years of study or online diplomas. You can start off with something as basic as reading journal articles about your industry to find out what’s happening, see what’s on the horizon or what may affect your business. Keep a keen eye on the financial news to see how local or global economic changes could affect your business. Find a mentor who you can have regular discussions with and can challenge you with thought provoking insight. Learn from similar businesses and don’t repeat their mistakes. The Internet is full of disaster stories where people made big mistakes and lost their businesses. Don’t ignore these, read them, learn what not to do. If you open your mind to what people do and say there are so many things you can learn. You don’t have to take it all in, just take what knowledge you need for your business and remember learning, self-improvement and education are never ending. The more you know the better off you and your business will be in the long run.
Networking and relationship building
If you want your business to succeed and you’re not naturally an open person then you’ll need to step outside of your comfort zone. You need to prepare yourself for rejection and doubting and not let that affect your mindset and motivation. As you practice approaching people your confidence will grow and you will become better at getting people to link to you. Whether you’re trying to build a relationship with a potential client or business partner or someone with similar interests you need to learn to stay calm and be yourself. By this, I mean relaxed but not laid back so as to seem disinterested or arrogant. Learn to read people, this skill will really help when talking to others because it will help you in identifying possible gestures and language you may want to avoid. Actively listen to people you are trying to build relationships with, you want to show you are interested but also want to take the opportunity to get a feeling for the vocabulary they use and topics they find interesting. As a small business owner landing the first ‘big fish’ client can be amazing. It can be really difficult finding that big company that is willing to give an unknown small business its trust, but if you can manage to get their trust you’ll be well on your way to that big contract. Start by completing small jobs successfully, whether it be family or friends and get ‘word of mouth’ to be your selling card. There is nothing better than others selling your business for you. Work through your network of friends and family to find connections. There are plenty of social media tools now to connect with professionals like LinkedIn so take advantage of them and get started building those networks.