The “American Dream” ideal is thrown around quite a bit these days. I’ve heard it mentioned in regard to marriage and family (you know, the white picket fence) but also in regard to entrepreneurship. To many people, the dream entails nothing more than happiness and a satisfying payoff for years of hard work. Moonlighters (the ambitious individuals who finish their day jobs and dive directly into their startup companies when they arrive home) are more than on track for the American Dream, but it’s easy to feel like the candle is burning at both ends. How is it possible to launch and market a part-time business with limited funds and limited time?
Make a Schedule
Isn’t “setting your own hours” part of an entrepreneur’s goals? Although budgeting your time between two jobs may not be what you had in mind, it’s a necessary step for those who want to remain organized and keep the reward in sight. At first glance you may think there’s not a second to spare for starting and marketing your side business, but you’d be surprised. How much time do you spend watching TV or surfing the internet on your time off? Do you follow Peter Gibbons’s lead (from Office Space) and “just space out for about an hour” here and there? Downtime like that can be quickly eliminated and better budgeted for your part-time business. Even dedicating yourself for an hour or two each night will make a difference – but be careful not to overexert yourself.
Feeling overwhelmed between your day job and your part-time side business? Ask trustworthy friends and family to help you with your business endeavors. They’ll often work for little or no pay while your business is in the startup phase, and you’ll be able to trust them (if you choose wisely, that is). Second, consider hiring a commission-only salesperson or employee to entice potential clients when you cannot. This option isn’t as good as hiring a family member, but it can be beneficial in a pinch. Once you have someone to help you with your daily business operations, then you’ll free up your time to polish those lacking areas.
Research and Plan Your Advertising Strategies
Just because you read about Fortune 500 companies’ massive successes from mobile apps and targeted advertisements doesn’t mean that it’s right for your startup. If your business is locally-based, then you probably won’t need to advertise on a national level. If your startup serves a broader online community, however, then you’ll want to take a closer look at affordable nationwide advertising. There’s no universal marketing technique for businesses, so you have to use your exact budget and needs as a jumping off point. Determine what you want to accomplish with your marketing: are you looking to exclusively expand your customer base or are you also looking to brand your company in a particular way? List your attainable short-term goals and then find the most appropriate and cost-effective advertising method for each. Once you have possible solutions lined up, it will be easier to select the best ones accordingly and launch your campaigns!
Also, don’t disregard promotional products as parts of your marketing strategy. Whether your budget is $250 or $250,000, you can find a personalized item for any occasion! Many startups use promo items for direct mailings (locally OR nationally), for direct marketing and face-to-face introductions, and as rewards or gifts for customer loyalty. They’re not just for trade shows anymore!
Are you interested in starting a part-time business? Bloomberg Businessweek has a list of 20 part-time business ideas to get you started. You can also read more about cost-effective marketing techniques in one of our website articles, “How to Advertise on a Modest Budget.” When you’re ready to market yourself with giveaways and freebies, then give Quality Logo Products a call. We’d love to help you with your startup!
What moonlighting and/or startup tips do YOU have to share with readers? Share the love in the comments section!