3 Moonlighting Tips to Increase Your Startup Success Rate

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

Schedule yourself between both jobs, even if it pains you to do so.

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.

Commission Assistance

Ask trusted friends or family members to help you when needed!

Commission Assistance

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

Plan ahead for your advertising so it’s easy to execute at launch time!

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!

Jill Tooley

Jill has been obsessed with words since her fingers could turn the pages of a book. She’s a hopeless bibliophile who recently purchased a Kindle after almost 6 years of radical opposition, and she loves stumbling upon new music on Pandora. Random interests include (but are not limited to) bookstores, movie memorabilia, and adorable rodents. Jill writes for the QLP blog and assists with the company’s social media accounts. You can connect with Jill on Google+.


  1. Lauren

    Don’t forget the importance of accounting!!!! 🙂

    • Michelle

      I agree! 🙂 Accounting is one area that is easily overlooked!

      • Chase P.

        Hooked on Phonics worked for me!

        … I never learned how to “add” when growing up. 🙁

    • QLP Jill

      You’re right, Lauren! Without accounting, you’d have no clue how much money you have to work with and you might spend too much as a result. It’s important to keep track of your assets and expenses at all times! 🙂

  2. QLP Kid

    Yes Accounting is very important!

    -QLP Kid

    “It’s How the Midwest Was Won…”

  3. Scooby DOO!

    Hire excellent help and realize that you can’t do everything, all of the time. Be realistic and make sure you have a damn good product or service!!

  4. Tim G

    Hire a laywer to take care of all the legal aspects of starting a business! It will save the company time and effort in the long run.

  5. Bret Bonnet

    First off; GREAT post! 🙂

    Two things:

    a.) Obama and the democrats are DESTROYING the “American Dream”. Small business owners and the so called “moonlighters” as you refer to them in this article; are what make America RUN (other than “Dunkin” – JK!), and for the past 2 years or so the democrats has been on a WAR path – destroying small businesses. I’ve seen a lot of good companies come and go recently; it’s quite sad.

    b.) There is no reward without risk. Take the plunge, but before you do, make sure you have a great product or service as Scooby Doo points out, but also don’t just rush into things. Plan, Plan, and PLAN some more. Make sure you have some savings. Very rarely is any new business venture your saving grace from living from pay check to pay check. I recall going almost 2 years without taking a pay check at one time…

    BONUS: Don’t underestimate how important it is to have a GREAT support system. Whether it be your significant other, your business partner, or your friends/family – there will be times when you’re down on your luck and you WILL NEED THESE PEOPLE’S HELP.

    • QLP Jill

      Well, I guess I can’t read or write a post without seeing it turn into a political debate or bashing-session of some sort… :::sigh:::

      I have no response to that because I don’t feel comfortable plastering my political beliefs on a promo products/marketing/business blog. But thanks for your compliments about the post and for your insightful commentary on starting a business! I think “moonlighting” has gotten a negative connotation through the years because it’s assumed that people are working “behind their employer’s back” to run a startup. But I like the term and I think it signifies good work ethic and dedication (because they’re working at all hours of the night to achieve their goals). And I agree that a solid support system is necessary for success! Too many people refuse help or assume they don’t need it, and then they pay for it later on.

  6. Robert Granholm

    Good points here, there’s a lot more to be said, but these are great. I disagree with previous commenters on accounting and lawyers. Those things can’t be overlooked, but they aren’t applicable in your moonlight/bootstrap phase. When you barely make a few grand a month, you’re not going to spend it on a lawyer, and there are very cheap or free tools for privacy policies, and basic legal docs you need…and your accounting is also incredibly simple, and can be tracked with various tools like or without having to spend anything.

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