We start businesses for all kinds of reasons. Whether you’re looking for more flexibility in your life, work you’re more passionate about or some additional income, many of us are turning to entrepreneurship in droves. But you don’t have to quit your day job to do it.
Millennials are infamous for their side hustles, but they aren’t the only generation doing extra work after hours. Nearly 44 million Americans have a side job.
There are myriad benefits to building a business while you’re still employed full-time.
As you can see, if you’re intrigued by the idea of starting an online store to supplement your 9-to-5 job, you’re far from alone. That’s because there are myriad benefits to building a business while you’re still employed full-time. There’s less pressure to hit lofty growth goals just to pay your rent. The income stability means you can invest more and take bigger swings in growing your online store, too.
Here’s how to start and run a successful online store without quitting your full-time gig.
Choose the Right Product
Running an online store while working full-time elsewhere starts with choosing the right products to set yourself up for success. While a side business allows you to pursue anything you’re passionate about, it’s important to be practical, too.
- How long will it take you to source or build your products?
- Will customers require a lot of support to use the product?
- What do the logistics of selling the product online involve?
- Will the product limit your ability to automate or outsource any part of your operation, now or in the future?
- When your time and energy are precious, it’s important to take all of those answers into consideration before you settle on the type of products you’ll sell.
Commit to a Weekly Schedule
A growing side business can lose momentum in a hurry if you don’t prioritize and make time to work on it. It’s easy to say you’ll work on your online store every Tuesday and Thursday from 6-9 PM...but actually doing it is a horse of an entirely different color.
One of the simplest (and best) ways to hold yourself accountable to working on your store is just to put time on the calendar.
One of the simplest (and best) ways to hold yourself accountable to working on your store is just to put time on the calendar. Most of us live and die by our Google or Outlook calendars — use that to your advantage by blocking off a few hours each week explicitly for working on your side business.
It may sound overly simplistic, but don’t underestimate the power of seeing your obligation in black and white on your weekly schedule.
Start Small and Set Reasonable Growth Targets
No matter how committed you and your Outlook calendar are, the bottom line is that your time is limited. You could shun sleep and commit an extra 30 hours a week to your online store, but that, my friend, is a one-way ticket to burnout.
That’s why it’s best to start small. It’s one of the luxuries starting your online store while still earning a steady paycheck allows you. Take a few steps toward your larger goals (like launching and other milestones) each week. When you set those goals, it’s important to be realistic about what you can accomplish — and by when — with the time you have available.
You may not have a billion dollar enterprise by next month, but you’ll be in much better shape to build sustainable growth.
You may not have a billion dollar enterprise by next month, but you’ll be in much better shape to build sustainable growth and long-term success — without the dark undereye circles.
Automate and Outsource
As an online store owner, your time is best spent working on the business, not in it. Every business owner has strengths and weaknesses. When time and energy are finite, it’s best to let someone (or something) else handle the aspects of running your online store that eat up your time or are just plain difficult for you.
The first step is to automate any processes or tasks you possibly can. That includes things like:
Order and payment processing: Set up your online store with a solution like Volusion that handles all of this for you.
Email flows: Your customers should receive order confirmation emails, shipping confirmations, and requests for feedback or reviews, at a minimum. Writing, designing, and sending those emails can add up to a lot of lost time, so use an automated email tool like MailChimp or Campaign Monitor.
Social media: Being active on social media is a great way to grow your brand and audience, but it can be time consuming to write and publish posts each day. Use a tool like Buffer or Hootsuite and you can schedule posts for the whole week in just an hour on Sunday night.
Now that you’ve put the machines to work, let’s talk about those tasks that need a human touch but not necessarily your touch. With the benefit of having a steady income you can invest into your online store, you have the luxury of outsourcing key tasks from the very outset of your business.
Bookkeeping and administrative tasks: You’re not an accountant (unless you are!) so managing your store’s books can end up taking forever and draining you. Let someone else handle that — someone who’s better at it.
Order packaging and fulfillment: You have better things to do (like hang out with your kids) than packing boxes and schlepping them to the Post Office. Let a fulfillment partner like ShipStation take care of that. With Volusion, you can also expand your store to Amazon or Ebay, which offer their own host of fulfillment options.
Is it time to take your online store full time?
Whether you’re just launching your online store or you’ve been running it for a while now, there are a lot of benefits to keeping your regular ol’ 9-to-5 job. There are also some drawbacks, like the limitation on your time and energy.
If you’re feeling stuck, take a hard look at your time, your online business, and your growth.
If you’re feeling stuck, take a hard look at your time, your online business, and your growth. Is lack of time the only thing holding back your online store? Do you want to work on your store for 40+ hours each week?
If you answered yes, it might be time to consider leaving your full-time job and going all in on your online store. If not, the advice above will help you manage both!
Have any questions about juggling your store and your 9-to-5? Let us know in the comments!