No matter how satisfied you are in your job, you still would like to be your own boss and run your own company. But you're afraid to try it. You don't want to take the risks. You don't know how to get financial backing and, most importantly, you don't want to quit you job and take that leap.
You don't have to, says Sean C. Castrina, author of 8 Unbreakable Rules for Business Start-Up Success.
"The solution is to become a part-time entrepreneur. And if you follow a specific set of rules, there's less risk involved than you may think," says Castrina.
Castrina speaks from extensive experience. He has started over 15 companies in industries including direct mail, home services, property management, retail, and more-the first while he was working 9 to 5.
He emphasizes that you don't need an MBA-or even a college degree-to become a successful entrepreneur.
According to Castrina, it's easier than ever before to become a part-time entrepreneur. With 20 hours a week (or less!) of organized and focused time, you can build a solid foundation for small-business success. Thanks to Internet-based tools, virtual secretaries, and answering services, you can reach and service many potential customers without ever leaving your house-not to mention the 24/7 access to educational tools and the ability to instantly search for answers to your questions.
Here are a few of Castrina's successful rules for being a part-time entrepreneur:
Figure out your game... Perhaps you already have a clearly defined vision for your business: You'd like to use your background in accountancy to start your own tax service, for instance. However, it's very possible that you have no idea which field to go into. (Anything that allows me to be my own man! you think.)
In that case, Castrina recommends starting a service business (anything from home cleaning to tutoring to adult care) for the following reasons:
• They require minimal money to start. "I've never started a service business with more than $10k, and many with less than $3k-including businesses that have made me millions!" he comments.
• Many service businesses don't require a prior work history in the field or particular qualifications.
• In most cases, they can't be outsourced or performed by computers so you'll always have work.
• Since you can hire others to perform the actual work while you handle the key behind-the-scenes management tasks (like hiring, supervising, taking client calls, marketing, etc.), service businesses are a great source of passive income. "For instance, I started a mobile car detailing business in my 20s," Castrina shares. "I hired an employee to do the work, charged $95 for a full detail inside and out, and gave my worker 50 percent. All I did was make the phone ring and schedule the jobs. I didn't get rich, but I did make an extra $25k a year-not bad for three to five hours of work a week during my down time!"
"Entrepreneur.com has a great list of service businesses to start you thinking," Castrina shares. "Or you might also want to visit www.newbizcoach.org
for more resources."
...but make sure you understand the rules before you start playing. Once you've familiarized yourself with the possibilities and identified a few types of businesses that might be needed in your area, try to poll at least 50 people to see which services they would use in the next six months and if they'd pay the price you would charge. Their answers will give you a good idea of which field you should go into.
"Also, before pulling the trigger on your business, take time to research the licenses, permits, and certifications you may need for the industry you're entering, and make sure that obtaining them won't be prohibitive," he adds. "You can usually find the information you need at your local business tax office or by contacting your Chamber of Commerce. And take it from the voice of experience: Start filling out that paperwork early. Government bureaucracies can be painfully slow!"
Do business from anywhere other than your current job. Of course, odds are, you'll be starting your new business from home-a place that's full of distractions ranging from the television to your overdue-a-wash truck to your wife's "honey-do" list. That's why setting up a dedicated workspace is crucial for productivity. Depending on your home's layout and your personal preferences, you might be able to use a spare bedroom, a basement, a detached garage, or even a nook in the living room as your "office." And if you already have a dedicated "man cave," even better!
"Personally, I converted our dining room into an incredible home office," Castrina shares. "I was able to do this on a dime because the room was already equipped with a large but seldom-used table. If you go this route, you might want to add a file cabinet and swap the chandelier for recessed or track lighting. As I found out, it's hard to tap into your entrepreneur mojo when you're constantly ducking a chandelier!
"Also, if you set up a home office, don't forget to capitalize on tax deduction advantages," Castrina adds. "For example, if you set aside a separate room of your house in which to conduct your business and/or store products, you may be able to take a home office deduction. You can also write off transportation expenses to and from your home to your business appointments and, in some cases, expenses related to car maintenance and repair." ###