How to effectively manage a side business and full-time job

Starting a side business can be one of the most exciting and fulfilling endeavors that a person can undertake. It may be something that was born out of necessity; simple to pay the bills. Or it came into existence out of pure passion for the service or product being offered. Whatever the reason, it is important to note that a side business is not going to be a success overnight. Many people who start their side business still work full-time jobs to financially support themselves and the business. This route is absolutely feasible though it takes a lot of mental fortitude and time management. For most, the hope is that their side business will one day generate enough profit for the operator to make it their full-time job. Josh James, the CEO and co-founder of Omniture, offered these words as advice for anyone just getting started, “When you find an idea that you just can’t stop thinking about, that’s probably a good one to pursue.”

Once you have a good idea it is important to take the next steps. How does one effectively manage a side business alongside their full-time job? We spoke to current business executives to find the answer to this question.

Time management

David Wolfe is the founder and CEO of Oliver’s Apparel, a company specializing in men’s performance apparel. He believes that making the most of the hours a person has available to them is one of the keys to managing their side business.

“If you’re still working full-time alongside your newly founded side business, finding time to dedicate to the side business can be difficult especially when you factor in a life outside of work. I found it helpful to create a schedule for myself so that I could achieve as much productivity as possible. Any free time is a good time to accomplish tasks to further your side business. Just be careful not to burn out or use your employer’s time to work on your side business.”

Full-time flexibility

The Future Party is a newsletter dedicated to business or entertainment and culture. Co-founder and President, Boye Fajinmi, advises side business owners to attempt to find as much flexibility as possible within their full-time job so that they can get more done on behalf of their side business.

“There are so many unique things you can do to find more time in your day for your side-business while still working a full-time job. Are you able to wake up a bit earlier to send some emails? What are you able to do while on your lunch break? For some people, depending on their level of dedication, changing full-time jobs may be realistic. Use any time you can find to get ahead and be productive.”

Challenge yourself

Brittany Dolin is the co-founder of The Pocketbook Agency, a company focused on recruiting people for support level and administrative roles. She suggests that a side-business owner should look to challenge themselves with the time that they have available by trying to get more done in a smaller window.

“A nine-to-five job eats up a lot every week. Pair this with a social life and taking care of yourself and it leaves very little time to be engaged with your small business. If you want your small business to succeed you must push yourself above and beyond what you thought you were capable of. Let’s say you have an hour to dedicate to a task. Challenge yourself to get it done in 40 minutes to leave yourself with some extra time to accomplish something else.” 

Evaluate, or make, your plan

CRAFTD is a premium jewelry brand whose managing director and CEO is Dan Potter. He believes that a person should ensure that their side-business is both something a person wants to do and is a wanted commodity or service before dedicating too much time to it.

“A side business can sound like a wonderful idea and quickly become a nightmare. First, it is important to assess whether your side business is something you’ll enjoy. Doing something you’ll hate with your free time will not be a good use of your time. After that, do some research and see if your idea, product, or service is something that can find some footing. Again, putting time into a fruitless endeavor will not bring much fulfillment.”

Find a balance

Carrie Derocher is the CMO of TextSanity, a service dedicated to large group or mass texting messaging. She advises any side business owner to strike stability between all aspects of their life while running a side business.

“In the early stages of your side business, your enthusiasm may be through the roof, and you’ll want to get as many things done as possible. This is great! But it’s important to realize this can’t always be your rate of productivity. Trying to do too much or dedicating too much time to your side business can result in burnout or neglecting other areas of your life. Finding ways to utilize your time in an appropriate but also effective manner is key to making sure your side business is a success while you maintain personal health.”

Find the right help

Mallary by Matthew is a company focused on curated sustainable clothing. Their founder and CEO, Ryan Craver, suggests that every side business owner, no matter where they’re at, needs help in certain areas.

“Running a small business is a much larger task than the name would imply. If paired with a full-time job, it can very easily become an overwhelming thing. There are so many things to accomplish daily, especially when you’re just getting started. I found it extremely helpful to find outside help for tasks where I either didn’t have the time or wasn’t skilled enough to accomplish them. Sometimes you can learn a new skill to overcome this hurdle. However, lack of free time may hinder this. Don’t waste your time when help is available to you.”

Be realistic

William Schumacher is the founder and CEO of Uprising Food, a superfood bread company. He advises those running side businesses to be reasonable with the goals they set for themselves and their company to make them achievable.

“Goals and targets are a necessity for any business. You never want to aimlessly wander through the business wasteland waiting for things to happen. At the same time, those goals must be realistic otherwise you are setting yourself up for failure. Set different levels of goals. For example, daily, weekly, monthly, yearly goals will keep you on your toes. These goals should feed into each other. The daily goals should make the weekly goals a reality and so on and so forth.”

Intentionally look for feedback

Kitanica is a tactile clothing brand whose co-founding partner is Chris Cronin. He believes that searching for feedback from customers or clients can make a world of difference when it comes to company performance.

“Since you’re starting small, it’s vastly important to make sure that what you’re doing stands out from other businesses in your industry. Your goal should be to offer unique value to your clientele. Take some time to ask these people what you could be doing to make the product or service more personable, accessible, simple, or innovative. Do they have any negative thoughts or opinions on the work you’re currently doing? External feedback should be a driving force within your company. After all, those behind that feedback make your business go.”

Save as much as possible

David A. DiLorenzo is the president of Valentino Beauty Pure, a company which focuses on beauty products. His advice to anyone looking to make their side business a full-time job is to set aside as much money as they can from both their side business and current full-time job.

“As your side business becomes profitable and begins to trend upwards one of your main focuses should be to stockpile as much extra cash as you can reasonably afford. Often there is a fine line between your side business becoming a success or failing. Ensuring that you have enough extra capital on hand to deal with the unexpected or to take on a new project is a wise move that will help alleviate additional unnecessary stress.” 

Seek out a mentor

Stoggles is an eyewear company specializing in style paired with affordability. Their co-founder and CXO, Rahul Khatri, suggests that a person looking to create a viable side business should look to others with experience for advice on a regular basis.

“If you assume that you know it all or can figure out how to run a side business without help, you’re going to have a much tougher go of it. In the internet age where numerous resources exist, it’s prudent to realize that there are those who have already accomplished what you’re attempting to do with your side business. Lean on those people for guidance, opinions, and suggestions. Admitting that you don’t have all the answers, and doing something about that, is admirable.”

There is so much to handle when it comes to operating a side business while continuing to work a full-time job. But the experts above have given considerable insight to the point where it should seem like a manageable, though demanding, task. Sir Richard Branson, the CEO of Virgin Group, sums up this endeavor well, “To me, business isn’t about wearing suits or pleasing stockholders. It’s about being true to yourself, your ideas and focusing on the essentials.”