The joy of starting a side business

by Peter Crocker

“Ditch the corporate job and go it alone” they say “Life is not a rehearsal!” But realistically, it’s hard to chuck in a good job. Have you considered starting a side business?

Many people dreaming of starting their own solo business are independent professionals – essentially they sell their expertise and time for a fee. To gain this expertise they’ve usually spent a lot of time working in an established business, probably with quite a tidy salary.

So to take the plunge into starting a business full-time (rather than a side business) you need to somehow replace that level of income to support your commitments – kids, credit cards, mortgages, holidays, rent, expensive girlfriends or frivolous boyfriends. The fact is, for plenty of people, quitting completely is not realistic.

That’s why starting up a side business is such a great option. You can keep your job and follow your dream at the same time. It may involve a few late nights and weekend work, but running your own business is never going to come easily.

If you’ve got the business idea, creating a professional-looking business can be surprisingly cheap and easy. By choosing suppliers carefully, you can set up a website, put together some brochures and design business cards and a logo for under $2,000 – even less if you don’t need something quite as elaborate and can do some of the work yourself. Register as a sole trader to get an ABN and you’re on your way.

Once you’ve got something to show people, spread the word around your friends, join a few networking groups, dabble in some advertising and see what happens. Chances are, if you’ve got a quality product or service and there’s a demand for it, you’ll start to get a few orders once the word gets around.

It’s a great way to test and modify your offering. Are people interested? Is there the demand you predicted? Is the price right? Who’s your competition? What marketing channels are available? And, you can discover all this before you’ve even thought about quitting your day job.

Apart from financial commitments, the other thing holding people back from starting their own business is the fear of failure. The great thing about the side business is that there are no spectacular failures. No-one really knows how much business you’re doing, you’re not relying on it for your livelihood as you haven’t thrown in your day job. And once you’ve recouped your initial investment, then everything else is a bonus!

Okay, so most people tell you to plan, plan, plan before you start a business. And this is definitely the ideal approach.

But, if you have a great business idea, a little bit of spare cash and you’ve run out of patience, sometimes it’s worth being the bull in the china shop and see what happens.

Ready, fire, aim!

While life is not a rehearsal, the side business is like a rehearsal for your own business.

Think small, and you may get surprisingly big. Is it worth the risk?

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