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The Complete Guide to Part-Time Business Ideas

Disclosure: This content is reader-supported, which means if you click on some of our links that we may earn a commission.

A part-time business can be an avenue to explore your passions and earn extra income. If you’re in the process of exploring part-time business ideas, you’ll find this guide very insightful. We’ll cover tips to help you come up with a viable business idea. We’ll also explore strategies to implement once you get your part-time business started. 

Why Exploring Part-Time Business Ideas Is So Important

Starting a part-time business requires time, effort, and money. But, any effort you put into creating a successful part-time business will pay off. If executed properly, a part-time business can change your life for the better.

For example, a part-time business will allow you to bring in more income while still fulfilling your current job obligations. Many people are employed full-time but still have flexible schedules. A part-time business can be a great way to fill gaps in your schedule if you want to make more money from your free time. Moreover, some business opportunities are not labor or time-intensive, allowing you to focus on your full-time job as required. What’s more, you won’t have to give up the security of a regular check if you’ll be building your business part-time.

Secondly, you can exploit the knowledge, skills, and experience you gain from your employer to go into business for yourself. You only need to avoid breaking any contracts you might have with your employer. These contracts include non-compete agreements and non-disclosure agreements. Whatever the case, a part-time business lets you capitalize on your skill set, particularly if it isn’t well utilized at your workplace.

Finally, a part-time business is a great avenue to explore your hobbies and interests. If you’re using your free time to get paid, you might as well get paid for doing things you like. There are few things more gratifying than being rewarded for your gifts and talents. 

You might even be able to transition from a part-time gig to a full-time business. For example, Apple started as a side project for its two co-founders. You can check out this great article by Business Insider for inspiration on side hustles that turned into mega-successful companies. 

Quick Tips to Come Up With Great Part-Time Business Ideas Today

Consider Your Skills and Interests

The gig economy is thriving. According to a study commissioned by Upwork, the gig economy is growing three times faster than the total US workforce. As a result, there are hundreds of part-time business opportunities out there to explore. While this is good news for the most part, narrowing down a business opportunity to pursue can be overwhelming.

However, your skills and interests can help you narrow down your options and find the right business idea. Start by making a list of things you are good at. This list should include everything you know how to do well, regardless of how common or ordinary. For example, exercising regularly doesn’t sound like a special skill. But, there are people out there struggling to meet their fitness goals. These people may even be willing to pay for some fitness help.

Below are some general ideas to inspire you:

  • DIY skills like carpentry or crafts
  • Academic subjects you excel at
  • Athletic or outdoor skills
  • Soft skills like negotiating, organizing, or public speaking
  • Hard skills like web design, language skills, bookkeeping, or coding

Once you’ve created your list, choose the things that you like to do. For example, you may be good at bookkeeping and do it at your day job. But, it may not be a viable idea if you do not enjoy your work. Running a side business on top of full-time employment takes a lot of commitment. Choosing something you enjoy doing will give you that extra motivation you need to plan and execute a successful business.  

Choose a Business With Room for Growth

You might be good at making holiday crafts. But, this business is seasonal. Therefore, you can expect to make sales only during specific times of the year. Similarly, there won’t be much demand for gourmet ice cream during the colder seasons. 

Instead, choose a business that offers the potential for consistent income. This way, you have a chance to grow your gig into a full-time business if you wish. Additionally, a stable business can carry you through to retirement. Many retirees are surprised at how difficult it is to fill their days meaningfully. Your business can help to make the transition easier.

Consider the Time Commitment

You’ll need to be honest about your availability. Likewise, you’ll need to decide how much time you are willing to spend on your part-time business. While at it, also consider how much energy you can dedicate to your business.

Start by taking your current schedule into account. Review how much time you have off from your full-time job. Also, don’t forget to include your commuting time and downtime for rest. Finally, figure out how much time is leftover in the mornings and evenings and weekends. This review should give you an estimate of how much time you have per week to dedicate to your business.

Finally, consider the best time to work on your part-time business. Some people are more productive in the morning, while others work better in the evenings or at night. Given your particular availability and time constraints, you should have a good idea of the kind of business you can realistically start.

Come Up With Clear Income Goals

Most people build a part-time business for extra income. So, clear income goals can help you highlight the best kind of business to start. Naturally, some business ideas have higher earning potential than others.

Come up with a hard dollar figure that you hope to make with your side business. For example, you may need an extra $100-$200 a month for happy hour or eating out with friends. On the flip side, you may need significant additional income to pay down debt or qualify for a mortgage.

Typically, businesses that don’t require special skills bring in less income than highly skilled jobs. For example, you can expect to make less money mystery shopping than private tutoring or programming. Having clear income goals will also help you develop a growth plan for your business.

Learn the Legal Landscape

Another excellent tip for exploring part-time business ideas is to get familiar with the legal landscape. This precaution ensures you don’t inadvertently break the law. Say, for example, you have decided on a handyman business. But, most states mandate that you cannot perform jobs worth more than a certain amount without a general contractor’s license.

Similarly, some cities have laws about the services you can advertise without a contractor’s license. It is worth speaking to an attorney about the legal requirements for the business you wish to start. You may find that the effort and expense required to comply with the law aren’t worth it for a part-time enterprise.

Avoid Taking Debt for Your Business

There’s always the chance that your business idea might fail. Or, it might take a long time before your business starts bringing sufficient income. So, avoid the temptation to take debt for your part-time business. You may end up worse off than before you started your business.

Ideally, you should find clients with your existing tools, equipment, or skill set. Alternatively, you can use your savings or crowdfunding for capital. Then, you can use your profits to purchase tools and equipment and grow your business. If you cannot fund your business without debt, it may be worth pursuing a different idea.  

You’ll also need to be careful about where you spend on your part-time business. As a rule of thumb, you shouldn’t spend on anything that doesn’t impact the customer positively. For example, you might think you need a home office with all the trimmings. But, if you aren’t meeting clients at your office, that money might have been better spent upskilling or purchasing the tools to perform more complex jobs.

Staying on top of your finances can be challenging when you first start your business. This task is especially challenging for first-time entrepreneurs. But, accounting software like FreshBooks can help you stay on top of your accounting. It’s almost like having your personal accounting department.

I highly recommend the Lite package for $7.50 per month. This package comes with pretty much all the accounting features a part-time business might need. For example, you can send unlimited invoices to up to five clients, track sales tax, send client estimates, and get paid via credit cards or bank transfers.

FreshBooks offers more comprehensive packages for when you need to scale up. These include:

Plus – For $12.50 per month

Premium – Costs $25 per month

Select – Custom pricing

Other helpful features you can expect with the Lite package include:

  • Access your account via iOS and Android
  • Client self-service portal
  • Store credit card information
  • Automated recurring invoices
  • Automated late payment reminders
  • Budget for client projects

FreshBooks will help solve your accounting headache. But, you still have the problem of coming up with a viable part-time business idea. You could always take a pen and paper and list all the business ideas you can think of. However, this strategy can only take you so far.

Furthermore, coming up with a part-time business idea is only one piece of the puzzle. Deciding whether the idea is worth pursuing is an entirely different ball game. But, there are a couple of things you can keep in mind to help you find the best idea for your scenario. These tips will vastly improve the quality of your part-time business ideas right now.

Long-Term Strategies for Running a Successful Part-Time Business

Some strategies take a longer time to implement. Still, these strategies are worth pursuing if you hope to run a successful part-time business. 

Learn To Manage Your Time Effectively

One of the most important lessons you will learn as a part-time business owner is time management. This aspect alone can make or break your business. Start by creating a reasonable to-do list every night. This list should include only the most critical tasks you need to accomplish the next day. Also, make sure that the to-do list is realistic.

It is easy to overestimate how much you can do in your free time. A long to-do list will only work to frustrate and drain you. But, a lean list of critical tasks can help you make the most of every spare moment you have.

Furthermore, you’ll need to work on cutting out distractions. Your business will now occupy your free time. That means pointless rendezvous with friends, your favorite TV shows, and social media will need to take a back seat.

Lastly, avoid the temptation to multitask. For example, you may think it’s a good idea to handle web design for one client while updating your marketing materials in another tab. The most efficient way to operate is to perform one task at a time. Check each item off before moving to the next task.

Get Your Family Involved

Get your family together for a meeting before you launch your business. Discuss your plans, ambitions, and reasons to start your business. The enterprise will likely take time away from your family. Running a part-time business means you’ll be working in the evenings, during the weekends, and on holidays. Prepare your family for the sacrifices you will all need to make.

However, it is not all doom and gloom. Your business could be the perfect opportunity to rally the family together behind a common goal. Ask for your family’s support. Whether it is handing out fliers, dropping packages at the post office, putting together orders, or stuffing envelopes, your family can offer much much-need support.

Consider Getting a Coach

You may have a great business idea and the will to see it through. But, there are blind spots and potential pitfalls that you’re unaware of. An experienced coach can help set you up for success and avoid possible mistakes when starting or running your business.

A coach can also be an accountability partner. Working a full-time job is already tasking. Your part-time venture can easily take a back seat. A coach can help keep you on track, whether that’s improving your services, marketing your business, or expanding your client base.

You don’t even have to get a paid coach. Your network of friends and family can be just as effective as a paid coach. For example, regular lunches with a successful entrepreneur friend ensure you get valuable and insightful information about running your business. A spouse can equally be a great accountability partner, ensuring that you do what you say you will.

Create a Schedule

Many businesses fail for lack of structure. There will always be something to do and emergencies to attend to. Getting around to tending your business when you have the time can be a recipe for disaster. For this reason, create a clear schedule and follow it consistently.

Set aside blocks of time to work on your business. This time maybe two hours in the morning and two hours after dinner. Mark this time on your calendar, complete with a to-do list. Guard this time jealously.

Define precisely what you are going to do during these blocks of time. It’s easy to get frustrated by all you have to do. But, you can simplify things by focusing on money-generating activities. For example, you may want to prioritize client work over filing.

Also, focus on activities that will generate money soon. Such tasks may include prospecting, marketing, and following up with leads.

Consider Outsourcing Certain Tasks

You might soon realize that you don’t have time to do everything your business demands. As a result, you may consider scaling back your business to make it more manageable. Alternatively, outsourcing can help you stay on top of all your essential business activities if your budget allows it.

Some of the tasks you may consider outsourcing include tax filing, bookkeeping, SEO, website content creation, social media marketing, and business research.

Next Steps

The next step after starting your part-time business is to offer exceptional customer service. Initially, you’ll rely heavily on word-of-mouth. Therefore, every little thing you do to make your customers happy will impact your business positively.

Your existing customers are also your bread and butter. Nurturing these essential relationships will help to grow your business quickly. For example, regular e-newsletters ensure you keep your clients in the loop about your services. If done right, your business will evolve soon. This growth offers excellent opportunities to upsell your existing customers.

Also, don’t forget to monitor and refine your approach. Some lessons you can only learn in the course of doing business. Keep records of what works, what needs improving, and possible changes that can help to improve your service or product delivery.

Before I go, we have a few more guides that may prove invaluable when starting your part-time business:


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