In a previous article, Sad But True – Five Reasons Why You May Never Start A Business in Your Lifetime, we explored a couple of reasons why many of us, however smart and intelligent, may never start a business in our entire life. One of the most important reasons we left out is 'having a job'. It’s such a shame that many of the world’s brightest people who could have become excellent entrepreneurs are locked up in offices and factories working for other people. These men and women could have started exciting businesses that create innovative products and services. Instead, everyday, they spill their creative juices and apply their knowledge and skills for their employer’s benefit.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s OK to be an employee if you love it. Some people just love the security and insurance that a salary or paycheck provides. Many of us just love to be sure that money will drop into our bank accounts at the end of the month. Compared to an entrepreneur or business owner who would go hungry if the business makes no profit, an employee usually gets paid for showing up for work; even when he does very little for most of the time. A secure job shields the employee from the risk and great responsibilities that often come with running a business. For many of us, employment is such as safe place to be!
But some of us do not just want a secure job and a steady paycheck. We want to taste the freedom and fulfillment that comes from building a business from scratch. Some of us have an entrepreneurial side that is begging for expression. We want an outlet for our creativity and talent that are being suppressed by our current jobs. For this group of people, having a job is necessary but not enough. Many of them would love to start and run their own business and still keep their jobs (for the money, titles and pension). Unlike Oliver Twist, these people are not greedy. They just want to make the most of their lives and reach their full potential. They want to have their cakes and eat it too!
If this is what you really want, you are in luck! Before we look at the five interesting businesses you can start and still keep your day job, we would like to look at some of the features that businesses should have if you want them to be compatible with your job/employment.
4 Features of Job-Compatible Businesses
The features we are about to share will help you to know the things to look out for while you examine different business ideas. All these features are very important and any business you eventually decide to start should have them so that it doesn’t collide with your day job. Starting a business that does not have any of these features is likely to frustrate you and may affect your performance at work. Unless you plan to get fired, you should ensure that any business you start is compatible with your job. Here are the five features…
1. They don’t always require your physical presence
This makes a ton of sense. Most jobs require that you show up physically for work. You could have a problem if your business always requires your physical presence to make products, serve your customers or supervise your own employees. This means that you will often take leave from work, call in sick or just disappear for a ‘family emergency’ during lunch time. Employers are not stupid you know. While you may get away with it for sometime, your ‘disappearances’ will catch their attention and it will only be a matter of time before you get a disciplinary warning or get fired.
No matter how lucrative and interesting the business idea, if it requires your constant presence, it just won’t work. Your only options would be to quit or take a long break from work or find somebody who is trustworthy and capable to run the business for you. Most employers want to ‘see’ you for eight hours everyday sitting at your desk. It doesn’t matter if you are actually working or not; they pay for your physical presence.
2. They don’t need a lot of your time
If your bright business idea takes a lot of your time (even if you don’t have to show up physically to take care of it), it’ll likely affect your performance at work. You will likely turn in your work and assignments late and miss deadlines a lot. You will often be distracted at work and this could lead to mistakes in the tasks that you have been assigned. You may start getting labeled as ‘absent-minded’ because you spend a lot of time focusing on your business instead of your work. It may just be a matter of time before it starts to affect your overall performance at work.
If you discover that your business will need quite a large portion of your time, try your best to delegate the less important tasks and decisions to somebody else. You could hire a supervisor who can handle little everyday problems and make less strategic decisions. He or she may only call your attention when there are very serious and important actions to be taken or major decisions to be made. Delegation, when done properly, can save you a lot of time which you can use to focus on your day job.
3. They don’t conflict with your current job
Most standard employment contracts (one of which you likely signed when you were hired) contain ‘Conflict of Interest’ or ‘Non Compete’ clauses. This typically means that you cannot engage in any business that is similar to the one you are employed. For example, if you work for a hair salon and barbershop business, it could be illegal for you to start a business that does the same thing or work for another company that is in the same business during your employment. If your employer finds out that you are involved in a business that competes with the company or conflicts with your job, you may be sued for a breach of contract, or most likely be fired.
If you find that your bright business idea is likely to put you in a position that goes against the terms of your employment contract, you can either abandon it and look for another less conflicting idea or you could quit your job and focus on the business. In some cases, you could seek approval from your employer. If he/she doesn’t feel threatened by your idea, you may be allowed to go ahead!
4. They make good use of your idle time during work hours and weekends
Photo credit: jibjab.com
Many of us like to give the impression that we are always busy at work. Really? How come we easily find the time to make private telephone calls, chat with friends, tweet and use Facebook? And there is office gossip and all those long minutes spent on senseless arguments about politics and sports. What about the extended time we take after lunch to engage in idle chit chat? What about the time we take to ‘catch some sleep’ in the ladies or men’s room? What about the extra hours we stay back at the office after work to ‘act busy’? And then there is always the long two-day weekend which many of us waste away in sleep or doing less important things.
All of these may appear to be small amounts of time but when you put them together, they can amount to months in a single year! You could use all this wasted time more effectively and apply it to creating an exciting business. It’s amazing how many of us complain that we don’t have time when we waste a lot of it every year. You will need to maximize how you use your time if you plan to be an employee and entrepreneur at the same time.
Five Businesses You Can Start and Still Keep Your Day Job
Now that we have looked at the features that make a business work with (and not against) your day job, it is time to look at five sample businesses that meet this purpose. Of course, these are not the only businesses in the world that go well with day jobs. There are several others and you can find them if you search and think hard enough. You could also find some interesting business ideas in the Browse Ideas section of this website. Just make sure that they have all the features we looked at in the last section. Here are some of our recommendations…
#1 – Real Estate
In our recent article on real estate investment, we looked at how Africa has become one of the world’s hottest property markets. Real estate provides a steady stream of income (if you rent or lease it to tenants) and is a rather low risk type of investment compared to other investment options. Once you have tenants, your property business pretty much runs itself. You only need to show up once in a while to handle complaints and make sure things are going OK. If you prefer, you could hire a property manager for a fee to handle the everyday issues.
If you would like to know more about the real estate (property) business, you should read our article: The Hottest Property Market in the World - How to Invest and Make Money in Real Estate in Africa.
#2 - Farming
Farming may not be as glamourous as a day job, but it is surely one of the best businesses that can run side by side with a day job. However, the type of farming we’re talking about usually will not involve raising animals. Unless you hire somebody to look after the business, animals will require a lot of your physical presence because they have to be fed and looked after. As a result, some of the animal businesses we have written about on smallstarter.com such as poultry farming, pig farming and fish farming may not work well with a day job.
Crops are much more flexible than animals. Crops will only usually require the most of your physical presence during the planting and harvest seasons. You could schedule to do these during the evenings and over the weekends.Some of the interesting businesses that fit this category that we have covered here include: Fruit farming, cassava farming and vegetable farming.
#3 – Internet businesses
Internet-based businesses are some of the easiest businesses to start and run. With a computer or mobile phone that is connected to the internet, you’re ready to go. No physical shop or factory is required. Starting a monetized blog, freelance writing and developing mobile apps are just a few of the opportunities on the internet that work well with day jobs.
So, instead of spending endless hours during and after work on Facebook, Twitter and other social media, you could use that time to write some articles for your blog or do something creative. Internet-related businesses are extremely flexible and can be run from anywhere – while you’re on a bus to work or having lunch. You should read: How To Make Money Online – The Open Secrets Many Africans Do Not Yet Know.
#4 – Network Marketing
Network marketing has often been described as the business of the 21st century. It offers an incredible way to use little efforts to achieve big results; which is something that makes it a great side business. Don’t let us spoil it for you. You should read the full article we wrote a while back titled: Network marketing – How Africans can exploit the world’s most amazing business opportunity.
#5 – Stock Trading
Yes, you are right. Stock trading is not exactly a business; it’s actually investing. With stocks, you can earn dividend income as well as profits made when you buy low and sell high. Apart from the research required to pick interesting and profitable stocks (which you can do over the weekend and during your idle time at the office), it only takes a phone call or a simple email to your stockbroker to buy or sell any stocks you choose.
We wrote a very detailed article on stock investing in a recent article. You can find it at: Investing in stocks – How to make money the smart way on Africa’s stock markets.
What are you going to do now?
That business dream of yours will always remain a dream until you finally take action. Now that you know it’s possible to start a business and still keep your job, how much longer will you continue to dream? Whether you decide to keep or quit your job is not the point. The point is that your job has not always been that obstacle you thought it was. You can use the good (or bad) energy from your day job to start something interesting. Start something that provides you with additional income, creativity and fulfillment.
Have you got any opinions about this? Do you still think it’s impossible to work a job and a business together? Let’s talk about it. Don’t forget to share this article with your friends and colleagues using the Facebook, Twitter and Google+ buttons below. You might just inspire somebody today!
To your financial success!