At your 9-5 right now? Cough twice if you’re an aspiring entrepreneur who feels trapped by your day job. You’re not alone.
According to the 2016 BNP Paribas Global Entrepreneur Report millennial entrepreneurs are starting businesses more often— and at a younger age— than any other generation. But don’t get caught up in the hype of rags to riches stories. The pictures on social media, and feature stories about successful young entrepreneurs who quit their jobs and are doing it big, are not 100% truth. Studies also show that most successful entrepreneurs who leave their jobs to pursue an idea come from well-to-do families, who finance their endeavors.
So what’s a working class aspiring entrepreneur to do? Don’t quit your day job… just yet. Being a “sidepreneur” allows you to fulfill your dreams and support yourself until your business is out of the red. Is it hard AF? Yes. There will be long nights, missed brunches and less cash for trips and shopping. But if you’re serious about your business, give yourself a timeline to grind, find a few mentors, then depart from the corporate world once your company is ready for the next level. Here are some steps you can take to jumpstart your business in the new year while still clocking into the man.
1 Do Competitive Research
Use this time while you’re still at your 9-5 to make sure you have an original idea that actually fills a void in the marketplace. Go into the office early. Leave late. Work on your passion project during your lunch break or lulls. You’ll be doing yourself a big favor by not being a copycat brand. And even if your business idea is slightly different from another company, think about whether your idea is part of another brand’s natural trajectory. You want to offer something that’s better or new.
2 Save Your Coins
Starting a business comes with some major costs. While that direct deposit is still hitting your bank account, set up some automatic withdrawals to your business account. You will need start-up funds to invest in the product, a website, marketing, trademarking and copywriting. Launching while you have income from your 9-5 can help you avoid the potential pitfall of relying on debt to grow.
3 Set Up An Official Company, Legally
You can sell anything on a website, but to protect your personal assets you should always legally set up a company. The first step is choosing a business structure such as LLC, Sole Proprietorship, S Corp, etc. The information is all at your fingertips with a quick search on the net. Before launching your business, you may also want to get a jumpstart on protecting your intellectual property such as your business name and logo, and anything else unique to your business.
4 Grow Your Social Presence
This seems simple, but everybody has a brand nowadays, which makes it harder to capture consumers’ attention. With that being said, having a strong social presence in 2017 is crucial for most businesses. Create a strategy, test your content, see what works and what doesn’t. Social media is a great way to develop and retain a consumer base that you can market to on an ongoing basis.
5 Test and Tweak
Most new business owners quickly realize that their master plans need to be tweaked in order to succeed. This can only be achieved by taking the product to market and having an open ear to consumer feedback. Your marketing plan may have been slightly off, or your product may morph into something slightly different than what you originally intended. There’s no better time to go through this process, while you still have a consistent income. Once you’ve remixed and mastered your formula, you’ll watch those sales roll in and be happy that you never had to go flat broke in the process.
Rondel Holder is a marketing executive and the founder of travel site Soul Society 101.