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3 Tips for Managing a Small Business While Holding Down Another Job

By Maurie Backman – Aug 27, 2018 at 7:48AM

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It's a tough situation to handle -- but it can be done.

These days, it's not uncommon for workers to hold down more than one job. In fact, as of late last year, an estimated 44 million Americans had some sort of side hustle on top of their full-time positions. But while it's one thing to swing a second gig that takes up a few hours a week, it's another thing to actually manage a business while attempting to hold down a completely separate role.

Why might you put yourself through that sort of grind and not just focus on the business itself? For one thing, that move might not be financially viable. If your business is new and not yet generating revenue, you might need the income from your other job to pay the bills. Furthermore, if your employer generously subsidizes your health insurance plan, that's reason enough to push yourself to keep that job, all the while managing your own business. Still, overseeing a small business while working another job is no easy feat, so here are some tips for making sure you're able to handle both obligations.

Man typing on laptop


1. Get organized

When you're working a main job while managing a small business, one of your most precious commodities will be time. So set yourself up to make the most of your waking hours. At the start of each week, sit down and create a schedule that outlines when you'll be working on your small business, keeping in mind both your social calendar and the demands of your primary job.

Remember, one of the biggest mistakes you can make when running a business on top of a main job is doing things for that business when you're supposed to be producing for your employer. Using company time or resources for personal gain is a good way to get yourself fired, so don't cross that line.

At the same time, don't let your main job take away from the time you're supposed to spend working on your business. If you've completed your work for the day and have two hours carved out at night to focus on your venture, don't check emails from your primary job in between.

2. Outsource your business tasks as needed

Small business owners who manage their ventures often need numerous hands on deck to accomplish all they need to do. So if you're running a business while working another job simultaneously, it stands to reason that you'll need even more assistance. To that end, don't be afraid to outsource your small business tasks -- especially those you're not particularly good at.

As stated above, time is apt to be one of your most valuable and scarce resources when you're in the situation you're in, so you really can't afford to waste hours spinning your wheels when hiring outside help is an option. So if you're struggling to, say, design your business website, don't continue sinking in hours you don't have. Instead, spend a little money on a professional designer who can knock it out quickly, and spend your time doing the things you do best.

3. Map out a plan for transitioning into being a full-time small business owner

Working a main job while running a business on the side isn't something you can or should plan on doing forever. If you really want your venture to be successful, there will come a point when you'll need to decide that you're ready to give it your full attention. So map out a plan that will help make that transition smoother. It might involve establishing a robust emergency fund to give you the financial leeway to take that leap or building a customer base so that you're generating some revenue once you take on that business full time. Either way, don't assume that juggling a main job and a small business is sustainable, because chances are it isn't.

Managing a small business is challenging enough without another job on top of it, so if you're attempting to swing both for a period of time, be as organized and strategic as you can about getting things done. At the same time, take the appropriate steps so that you're able to focus your full-time energy on your venture as soon as possible. The longer you attempt to work a main job and run a business on the side, the more you risk burning out completely, and at that point, you'll compromise the hard work you've put in on both fronts.

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