Wednesday, May 05, 2010

On the Side

from the DLM Blog:

5 Reasons You May Want to Start a Side Business

Posted: 04 Feb 2010 08:10 AM PST

Whether your “real” work is a full-time day job, an academic course, or taking care of kids, you might have a few hours to spare each week which you’d like to use productively. Have you ever thought about starting a side business?

A few years ago, I thought that “business” was the realm of tough go-getters with a focus on profit and nothing else. Since then, I’ve met lots of individuals who run their own businesses from a couple who make rosettes for horse shows in their spare time, to people working as consultants with government organizations. These business owners come from all walks of life, and have built businesses based on very different skills, interests and areas of expertise.

Here are five reasons for you to start a side business.
  1. Extra Pocket Money
    Having a small business which you run from home will bring in extra money. If you’re struggling to make ends meet with your family’s regular income, or if you’d simply like to have some extra for treats and holidays, this alone is a great reason to get your own side business going.

    Be realistic about what sort of business you’re going to develop, if this is your main motivation. You’ll want something which doesn’t involve much outlay (of time or of capital).

  2. Developing Your Skills
    Many traditional office jobs don’t offer much room for development. I was keen to learn CSS in my day job, but there was no provision for training. Instead, I learned in my own time, creating free websites for friends and then paid ones for small businesses.

    Starting up a side business will teach you a huge amount: everything from bookkeeping to client relationships to skills specific to your own area. All of this can go onto your resume, and could even help you land that next job or that promotion.

  3. Safety Net
    In uncertain economic times, it’s a bad idea to rely solely on the paycheck from your employer. If your company goes under, you’re going to sink too. A side business can help provide a safety net. It lets you save up an emergency fund, and it provides a stream of regular income which isn’t tied to your day job. You may even be able to grow your side business to the point where it can support you and your family.

    (For a great look at diversification and not putting all your income eggs in one basket, I love Naomi Dunford’s piece on Why We’re Broke and How to Fix It.)

  4. Try Out a New Career
    Have you ever thought about switching to a new dream career? Maybe you’d love to be a writer, or a teacher, or a photographer, or a chef. The problem is, you’re not completely sure that you’ll love it as much as you hope you will.

    Starting up a side business is a great way to dip your toes into a new career area. While I was working in technical support and software testing, I started freelance writing on the side (and quickly found that I enjoyed it a lot more than telling people how to use a “lost password” button.) Not every career lends itself to dabbling – brain surgeon, anyone? – but with a bit of creativity, there’s often a way to try out your dream job as a side gig.

  5. Take a Hobby Further
    Some hobbies are perfect for turning into a small business – and this definitely doesn’t have to mean losing the fun of your hobby. If you’re a keen amateur photographer, for instance, you can justify buying better equipment if you’re making money from your snaps – and of course you can still use your camera for fun! (Thanks to the lovely Antonina for this tip.)

    When your hobby becomes a business, you get a whole new level of excitement from it. Making money from something which you love is a great feeling – and so is sharing your skills and enjoyment with the world.
Have you ever thought about starting up a side business? What are your reasons?

Written on 2/4/2010 by Ali Hale. Ali is a professional writer and blogger, and a part-time postgraduate student of creative writing. If you need a hand with any sort of written project, drop her a line ( or check out her website at Aliventures.Photo Credit: Ed Yourdon

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