A sideline business is a great idea for almost anyone in our current economy. In the past, sideline businesses were mainly for people who didn’t love their current job and wanted to transition out of it. That’s still a thing, of course, but there are also people who love their full-time job, but know that it may not be as stable as they wish. That whole argument also assumes you can find a full-time job in the first place. With so many industries limiting employee hours to avoid paying benefits, even finding a full-time job is becoming more and more difficult. Choosing a sideline business can be a daunting task, but having a structured process can make it easier.
This is a Series
This is part one of a three-part series. This post will discuss how to assess your interests, goals, motivation and values in choosing your sideline business.
Part two will cover considerations involving your workstyle, money goals, and your resources.
Part three will introduce business models and examine the differences between them, as well as the advantages and disadvantages of each.
Let’s Define Business
Let’s start by defining business. When I talk about a business, I’m talking about something that can grow without you working more hours. Self-employment is not the same thing as a business.
Self-employment vs. Business
For example, as a psychotherapist, I could easily open a private practice in the evenings or on weekends and do quite well on a per-hour basis. I would be self-employed, but I would not own a business. On the other hand, psychotherapist friend of mine is in private practice and has some therapists that work for her and others that rent space for their independent practices. She is self-employed AND she has a business (employing other therapists and renting space). She can’t really scale the business without renting a larger space, so her income potential is limited, but she does have a business. We’ll talk about scaling in part 3 of this series when we talk about business model, so stay tuned for that.
Choosing a Sideline Business – What to Consider
One of the hardest parts about choosing the right business for you is that there are so many options. But since this is going to be your business, let’s start with you.
What are your interests?
This doesn’t necessarily mean your hobbies. Those are the things you do strictly for the enjoyment of them and it is probably better for your mental health that they stay that way. What are your professional interests?
These three questions may help you narrow it down:
- What have I done in the past that I would enjoy doing again?
- What have I not done, but would like to try?
- Where have my most cherished successes come from?
What are your goals?
This includes your financial goals, of course, but a business can help you reach other goals, too. You may want to expand your social circle. If that is the case, you don’t want to start a business that has you behind your computer all the time. You may want your business to provide opportunities to travel. Put those things on your list. Choosing a sideline business that supports more than one of your goals helps you leverage your time.
What are your values?
You probably don’t think about your values very often. In fact, most of us don’t really THINK about our values. They are not always conscious. But values are the reason we do things and the reason we don’t. When you are angry or dissatisfied it is because one of your values has not been met. When you are happy it is because one of your values has been met.
Choosing a sideline business is an important step and you want to make the right decision the first time. Knowing yourself is the first step in the process. In Part 2 I’ll go into more depth about workstyle, money, location, and your resources.
Do you already have a sideline business? How did you choose it?