small business ideas

Small Business Ideas: Starting a Business While Working Another Job

Anne Shaw

The typical story of an entrepreneur shows them risking it all on their new venture, but many small business owners’ journeys start out a different way. They build their businesses slowly—while working another job. Why? Perhaps because doing so translated to lower risk. They kept their personal financial stability and potentially even helped fund their new business using their full-time income, all while maintaining and growing their professional network.

And this strategy often succeeds. In fact, small business owners who chose to start their business while working another job have a name: hybrid entrepreneurs. And, according to a study published by the Academy of Management, hybrid entrepreneurs are one-third less likely to fail. You’ve probably heard of a few: Do Steve Wozniak and Henry Ford ring any bells?

The cons of this approach come down to time, focus, and stress. Your performance at work could suffer, and you may sometimes have to pull focus back from your new business, but there’s no doubt that keeping your job while starting a business—at least for a little while—can soften your landing and provide financial flexibility you wouldn’t otherwise have.

6 Businesses You Can Start on a Part-Time Schedule

Not all new businesses can be successfully launched by a founder who only has part-time hours to spare, so we’ve put together a list of ones that can. The following new business ideas have low start-up costs and can easily begin as side gigs on a part-time schedule.

Business Services

Other businesses, big and small, may need the skillset that you already have—on a freelance basis. This offers the perfect opportunity to start a side gig and grow it into your full-time business. Consider your professional expertise and whether it translates well to contract work. If it doesn’t, then you may decide to learn a new skill in your free time, which you can later use for your business. While you’ll probably start out as a solopreneur, over time you may choose to add employees or even create a network of independent sub-contractors.

Bookkeeper. Many small businesses need bookkeeping help, so your services could be in high demand, and you may even be able to work from home. If you don’t already have the requisite experience, consider taking online courses on bookkeeping or pursue a two-year associate degree in bookkeeping or accounting.

Freelance Writer/Editor. To get started, you’ll need writing and/or editing experience, a computer, and a reliable internet connection. Many freelance writers and editors now get their early work through online channels, like LinkedIn Pro, Contently, and Skyword.

Graphic Designer. To run your own business, you’ll need design software, a portfolio of work, a computer, and an internet connection. If needed, freshen up on your design skills by watching tutorials, practicing, or taking classes. Create your portfolio from past work, early client projects, and even passion projects you complete on your own. Freelance graphic designers often get work through word-of-mouth and online networks like Upwork, Dribbble, and Fiverr.

Personal Services

Many consumer services offer potential avenues for starting a business on a part-time schedule. Consider your personal strengths and the hobbies you already enjoy to spark some ideas around what you can offer to others.

Personal Trainer. If personal training appeals to you, then you probably already enjoy physical fitness. Why not turn that gym and exercise time into a business you can run during evenings and weekends? Just remember that it’s safest to get a certification through personal training courses before you begin taking on clients.

Photographer. Already love photography? Start building your portfolio by pulling from your personal shots and offering free or inexpensive shoots to your friends and family. Be careful not to invest too much money in equipment upfront as those needs will grow out of any niches you develop. As you start to make more money, slowly and deliberately build your equipment inventory, including photo-editing software.

Tutor. If you have strong expertise in a school subject and a natural drive to teach, then you may consider tutoring part-time. Play it safe and ask a lawyer to check the local legal requirements related to teaching children in their homes, since the hours they spend at home are when you’ll be available to tutor. Once you find your first clients, word-of-mouth may be your strongest way to build your roster.

Read More: 99 New Small Business Ideas

For additional information on these business ideas—and 93 more—read our ebook: 99 New Small Business Ideas and What You’ll Need to Get Started.

In it, we not only identify 99 small business ideas, but we also discuss when they make sense and what a small business owner will need to launch their new venture. These 99 ideas are broken into six categories: business services, personal services, professional services, retail, financial services, and technology. No matter what you choose to do, always keep in mind that successful business owners start with a well-thought-out business plan and keep a customer-first mindset.

99 Small Business Ideas

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