8 steps to find time to start a business while working full time

Do you want to set up a business on the side but feel like you’re too busy? Read this guide to creating the time to pursue your dream.

Untitled design (4)One strategy to transition into entrepreneurship is to build a side income before quitting your job. But it can end up being a catch 22: you believe that you don’t have enough time to make good money in your business, and if you don’t make money, you don’t feel confident to quit your job. End result = stuck. 

If you want to create a business rather than a hobby while you are still working (i.e. where you make money) there is no way around it – you need to clear space in your life and be very focused in what you choose to do with the time you allocate.

So what will you need to do to get up and running? The first few months will be a lot about getting clear on what you want to do, how you will make money and developing a marketing plan and sales strategy. You’ll need to get a website up, to start to engage a following on social media and to build your email list. You’ll start having conversations with prospects. Once you get clients, your workload will snow ball and you may need to go part time to be able to serve them effectively.

Here are 8 steps to managing your time in creating a business while working full time so that you can quit your job sooner:

1. Get clear on your priorities.

List all the key components of your life: your new business, day job, fitness, social, study, intimate partner (or finding one), hobbies, volunteer work, family etc. Then rank them. This can be challenging to do – but remember there is no right or wrong – just what is most important to you at this time. If your new business is not in at least the top 3, ask yourself if it is the right time to get started – you’re unlikely to make much progress if there are lots of competing priorities.

2. Track how you are currently spending your time.

For a week, record everything you spend time on in a spreadsheet or electronic calendar (including work, exercise, social time, housework, shopping, time with family etc).

3. Analyse your actual available time.

Using a new spreadsheet or calendar template, block out anything you absolutely must do – like your 9-5 job, travel time, family responsibilities, meals, sleep etc. The remaining time you have a choice over. Remember, activities like cleaning you do have control over – you can get a cleaner!

Count the number of hours you have, before you think about what you ‘should’ be doing in that time. Often this is around 30 hours. So now you know you can never say there is ‘no’ time! It’s how you choose to use it

4. Simplify your life.

If your business is a priority for you, you’ll need to let go of some activities in your life. It’s not forever… it’s just the reality of adding a new component to your life – something has to give. Go through how you are spending your time and ask yourself, ‘is this really essential?’

If you are going out for drinks after work a few nights during the week, maybe you keep it to the weekends. Or if you are a gym junkie and you go 4 times a week, cut it back to 2-3 for now or cycle to work instead. Can you hire help at home to free up time?

It may also mean working fewer hours in your day job. I don’t mean neglecting your responsibilities, but getting rid of the need to be the superstar or the saviour and asking ‘does this need to be done today?’ Focus on what directly links to your KPIs.

The next step will be to see if you can free up more time by working part time or flexibly. But it’s a good idea to get things up and running first so you can test it out and get clear before you go public.

5. Decide how many hours a week you will dedicate to your business.

To gain momentum and get results, you will need 10 hours or more a week. You can start with 5, but I’d recommend going for it from the get go – if you love it you’ll want to put in the time, so it is a good sign if you do.

6. Schedule your ‘business time’ in your calendar.

For example, you might block out 2 nights a week from 7-10pm + 4-8 hours on the weekend. Put it in your work calendar so that people don’t schedule meetings when you need to be heading home unless it’s urgent.

7. Focus on revenue generation.

Before I started my business, I did a lot of courses outside of work and at one point I was studying part time. When you are in the ‘searching’ phase of trying to find work you love, this is helpful to get ideas and education.

But if you want to build up a side income while you are working, you need to prioritise being a revenue generator over being a student. If you’re not ready for that and feel you need more education that is fine, but eventually you will need to make that transition. And remember that sometimes the best education is just doing it and starting to work with clients.

Another activity that can drain time without creating revenue is social media. Set yourself a regular routine like 15 minutes on twitter a day or one facebook or instagram post per day to build your brand. Beyond that ask yourself if what you are doing will generate revenue.

You may be better off using social media and blogs to drive traffic to a free offer that will help you build your list and increase revenue more readily through email marketing. 

8. Keep focused on why you are doing it and know that it’s not forever.

Lastly, remind yourself of your purpose in setting up a business. If you want flexibility in how you work, know that it can be yours if you put in the hard yards now. Or if you are really passionate about solving a particular problem in the world, think of how your clients will benefit.

Being an entrepreneur will always require effort and dedication, but the period of spreading yourself between a job you don’t love and a business that you’re excited about is particularly taxing on your time and energy. If you set yourself up for success before your transition, it will make it easier once you go full time in your business.

For more practical ideas on how to escape the 9-5, download my ebook at www.louisetaylorcoaching.com/ebook.

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