If you are in a job but not sure for how much longer, or wanting to turn a skill/hobby/passion into a way of making some extra cash, then you’re a perfect candidate for becoming a 5 to 9’er. This is the name I apply to the millions of entrepreneurial people who are employee/Mum/student by day and working on building a business, in their spare time. It’s a great way to become your own boss as you give yourself time to build confidence – and the all-important cashflow. Here’s how to get started:
1. Find an idea – in the book I offer 50 ideas for businesses you can start in your spare time and they range from book publisher to personal trainer, toymaker to rare breed pig farmer, and all else in between. Come up with an idea that is a) connected to your hobby/passion/skill or b) fills a gap in the market or c) is something you see someone else doing and think you can do better yourself.
2. Make a plan – with your idea in mind, make a plan. It only need cover 4 pages or so to include your idea, how you’re going to promote the business, ways of getting your product or service to market and the financials that show a profit at the end of the day. There’s a template in the book for a basic business plan that will help you draft this.
3. Promote thyself! – promote the business and watch sales roll in. Issue a press release, host an event, enter an Award and have profiles on well populated platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. Your marketing will set you up as an expert in your field, and in the book I show how you can do this without spending a single penny.
4. Make the most of technology – the book carries a good number of tips on this topic. Have the business work whilst you’re at work with a website that attracts an audience and makes it clear and easy to buy. Time is your most important asset when Working 5 to 9 so make the most of it by using web based email systems, time tracking software and Sky + to ensure you catch up with all your favourite shows!
5. Create space – have space in the house that is reserved as your office/work area and adorn it with furnishings and items that increase productivity; a vision board, decent sound system, and a sturdy desk and chair.
6. Tell the boss – so long as you’re not doing anything that is in competition to your day job (and out of all the 60 profiled 5 to 9’ers in my book, not one of them was) then it is wise to tell your boss you’re earning outside office hours. In the book I outline how to go about this conversation and conclude that most employers see Working 5 to 9 as a good thing as you are gaining new skills, with the employer realising the benefits, without having to pay for the training.
7. Tell the taxman – we have a duty to inform the tax man of activities within three months of trading. Registration is straightforward and the book will guide you if you’re at the point of considering whether you should set up as a sole trader, partnership or limited company. It also shows how to keep the tax bill as low as possible by claiming business and homeworking expenses.
8. Do what you do best and outsource the rest – a strategy that applies throughout your business life, from starting up to growing into a full time venture. Stick to the activity you know best and get help from others in areas such as accounting, admin, sales, fulfilment, PR and marketing. Keep in touch with partners using free or low-cost tools such as Basecamp, Huddle, Glasscubes or Tinychat and the business will run smoothly, and profitably.
As well as 50 ideas for businesses you can start in your spare time, the book profiles 60 successful 5 to 9’ers. All of them speak about how exciting (and busy!) life has become since they started their part time venture; I hope you will read their stories and be inspired – and then take the tips and advice to become your own boss, in your own time.
Visit www.working5to9.co.uk to learn more about ‘Working 5 to 9 – how to start a successful business in your spare time’
Emma Jones is founder of Enterprise Nation, a business expert, and author of ‘Spare Room Start Up’ and ‘Working 5 to 9’