Today I want to discuss a very touchy topic: having a side business (or a blog) on top of your job. Either on this blog or at work, I always get this question:
“How do you manage to have a business on the side and perform at work at the same time?”
And an even an even touchier question follows:
“Does your boss know?”
The first question is easy to answer, in my opinion, as it all comes down to time management (here are some of my best time management tips and also here). Managing a side business and keeping your day job doesn’t require you to work more hours but it requires you to work smarter and more efficiently. But being efficient is one thing, managing both your side projects and a day job while letting your boss know about it is another. Here are a few tips I’ve used in the past couple of years:
In my personal case, this wasn’t an option: I have to declare any side income / project or participation in any company. If I don’t, I may lose my job. This is why my boss and HR know about my side business. However, even if I had the choice to declare it or not, I would tell them without hesitation. Why? Because it gives me leverage when negotiating. My boss is very aware that I have another immediate source of income. Therefore, I can easily decide to work elsewhere as I can count on my side business income to support my lifestyle in the meantime.
I’ve also noticed that I have gained more respect from colleagues and other managers. They see great potential in me and are impressed by the fact that I can manage 2 “careers” at the same time. So if you are serious about your side project and have started to make a few bucks already, don’t be shy to tell your boss. And if you are afraid of getting fired, just think that it costs a lot for a firm to replace an employee (the cost of not having someone working while they search, the cost of looking and interviewing candidates and the cost of training a new employee).
There is one thing that you must be very careful with if you disclose that you have another source of income; make sure you do your day job well. As cool as it is to impress people by my sense of entrepreneurship, it could also play against me if I can’t deliver at my day job. My sideline would easily become the target of any suspicions such as, when do I find the time to work on it. If I work on my online company while at work and don’t do my day job correctly, I will be asked to stop immediately. This would definitely make sense but still, it is important to be aware of what is waiting for you if you tell the world that you make money on the side.
Mind you, you may have the very same problem if your performance drops after a newborn or getting married. Remember, the corporate world is full of dream crashers ;-).
The fine line
There are a lot of shades of gray between what you should/could/would do when you think of running your own venture on the side while keeping your day job. For example, at no time would I use/mention/represent my job or my employer on any of my blogs. I made it clear that this is my personal life and that I am not writing as a financial planner or an employee of X Corporation. My employer definitely appreciates this and I certainly want to keep him happy ;-).
The other point to be careful about is to make sure that the compliance department is okay with your activities. You may want to hide it from them but if they find that you did, chances are that you will be packing up your boxes a few minutes later. I would rather sit down with them and ask them what I can and can’t do instead of trying to play hide-and-seek with them.
Finally, you may mention that you are making money on the side to your entourage but don’t start bragging about it. For example, nobody at work knows how much I make and how I make my money online (unless they read this blog, lol!). While I want to be honest, I don’t want to draw too much attention on me either. Finding the balance between independence and showing off is very important. Plus, a little bit of mystery is always more exciting ;-D
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Another month has just passed and we are already thinking about Xmas shopping! I haven’t been looking at my expenses until recently when I took austerity measures in order to get back to a “black” budget. So this month has been quite challenging in terms of expenses for 2 main reasons:
Our 3rd baby
While we have been pretty reasonable with Xmas shopping this year (we give gifts to our kids), the arrival of our 3rd baby is generating tons of unexpected expenses.
But you already have 2 kids, what else do you have to buy for the 3rd one that you don’t already have????
Well, this is the problem.
A very frustrating problem.
We have to buy all kinds of stuff that we already have because they are not considered safe anymore!
Man! It’s not like we had William and Amy back in the 40’s!
Watch this; we had a problem with our stroller so we have to change it… all right $300
Our baby seat for the car is overdue (they only last 5 years !?!?!). Another $200
There was a recall on our baby crib (that we only paid $400 not so long ago!) so we can’t use it anymore! Aaaahhhh! Thank God, one of our friends kept his so we can borrow it.
So while we have tons of clothing,both our children were born during summer time and this one is due Feb 2nd. So half of the clothes won’t work… ugh!
So this is why we have been struggling between Xmas and baby shopping in the month of November. I’ve decided to sell more of my stocks to pay for these expenses in order to avoid increasing my debt level. Good news! It worked! Not going to the restaurant or ordering out for a second month in a row was a great help! It’s a bit frustrating sometimes but it is nothing compared to not paying your credit card balance in full!
As I mentioned earlier, I’ll get a pretty fat bonus this year. Even though I have to pay a huge load of tax (50%) on it, I will still have enough to pay back about $25K in debts in one shot. On top of it, I’ll be reducing the cost of transportation by about $700/month starting the last week of January. So, I’ll not only start fresh with less debts but I will also have a balanced budget that doesn’t count on a huge bonus at the end of the year to pay down my debts!
Right now, my biggest issue is to resist the temptation to “treat myself” and buy more stuff. I love to go to restaurants, dress well and do activities. I just have to lock up my wallet and ignore the fact that I’m getting this bonus. Sorry capitalism, I have to stop making the economic wheel turn and think about paying down my debts ;-).
|LINE OF CREDIT||$19,868||$19,828||-0.2%|
Net Worth: $177,544
I must confess that I browse many personal finance and entrepreneurship blogs, but I just don’t care for many of them. It’s hard to find a blog that you resonate with totally.
I’ve been investing my money since I was in high school and I want to read something a little more than just throwing your change into a jar or following your passions to be epic.
I could always link to one of the popular bloggers and kiss some ass telling them how passionate their piece was. I’m not going to do that. This week I wanted to highlight a personal blogger that deserves the spotlight.
The most epic article from the last little while is…
When Did Young People Become Such Pansies? @ Financial Uproar.
What makes this post so epic?
It’s a reminder for 20-somethings that are afraid of taking a risk. Nelson writes about how risks don’t have to be simply financial in our 20s. We can challenge ourselves by moving out of our parents place or switching locations to find a higher paying gig.
The truth is that I don’t think I’m taking enough risks. This is is why this piece jumped out at me. Despite traveling to Europe alone and various risky investments, I think that I can do more to challenge myself.
What’s my favorite line from this piece?
“Risk is made for young people. If you’re 22 and you lose a couple thousand bucks because of a risky investment gone wrong, you have 50 YEARS to make that money back. You don’t have kids to feed, you will be able to handle it. “
Once again you can always submit your piece in for the Epic Shiz of The Week to thefinancialblogger at gmail dot com.Comment: 1 Read More
You don’t have to always fail or succeed with everything that you try. There’s a third option. You can quit. You don’t always have to fail at something and wait it out for a long time before you move. Sometimes you just need to quit. For some reason there’s a negative stigma surrounding quitting. I don’t get it. There are many occasions where it makes much more sense to quit, instead of holding on to a false hope. There’s absolutely no need to be ashamed of quitting.
The big question revolves around…
When do you call it quits? How do you know when the time is right to give up on something and to move on?
[For the sake of this post I’m going to discuss calling it quits with a side business or some sort of freelancing work.]
If your new business venture isn’t making you money while everyone around you makes a killing, maybe it’s a sign that chasing the dollars isn’t going to work out for you. The problem is that we are all programmed differently. No two human beings are the same. This is why some of us are strictly motivated by money, while others chase their passions. If you’re not making money in a traditionally lucrative field, you should move on, and as much as I hate the phrase, you should look into “following your passions.”
“If you enter a niche because you’re following the dollars, you wont keep it up. It’s too much work, and you will get tired and frustrated and you will eventually fold.” – Gary Vaynerchuk
If you’re going to fail, you better fail fast is what they say. There’s no point in holding on to something that’s not going to happen. It’s like those guys that wait for a year when their girlfriend tells them that it’s time for a break. Success doesn’t have to be a slow process. You don’t have to get anyone’s permission to succeed. You don’t have waiting around for your turn. You can quit and try something different.
It’s cool to have the support of your parents, family, and loved ones. The problem is when these are the only people that support you. Family support is helpful when you’re in trouble. Family support is useless when you actually need REAL feedback. Your girlfriend or parents don’t have the heart to tell you that your new business idea where you invested thousands of dollars, is completely lame.
If you notice that only your parents are supporting your business idea, maybe it’s time to move on. Someone with a valid criticism is not a “hater” (don’t you get annoyed when someone uses that word?).
Just because you think your idea is good it doesn’t mean that anyone else does. You need some sort of tangible proof. There needs to be some sort of a market or some glimpse of hope. Blindly chasing your passions can leave you broke and lonely.
If you haven’t found a paying client in a year, then you must move on because free is not a business model. Free content and free work is noble and all, but how do you plan on paying your bills? Without any tangible proof of interest for your business idea, you need to look at other options.
I know that passion is one of those buzzwords that dream sellers love to throw around. The truth is that if something feels like a chore, it’s time to find something new that interests you. Life is too short to spend it on stuff that you hate.
That’s all I have to say about quitting. It’s tough to let go. The good news is that when one door closes, another opens (yes it’s cliche, but it’s true).
Have you had to quit something recently? How did you know it was time to call it quits?
(photo credit: fuzzcat)Comments: 3 Read More
Earlier in November, I wrote a piece about how to crush it at work while watching Lost. In that post, I told you what I have done with my life for the past 8 years and how I got where I am today. Once you have learned to crush it at work, you need to free up some time to start thinking about working 4 days a week. Climbing up the corporate ladder is great, earning more money is even better but this won’t get you out of the Rat Race. However, if you are able to do this in 4 days, you have an opportunity to build your own money making machine on the 5th day.
As an example, I told you how to build a niche website last week and what kind of return you can expect from it (about 25% per year, on a conservative basis). The less money you have to build the site, the more time you will have to put in. This is why the 5th day is important ;-). You can basically build a niche site with only $10 in your bank account (thas a minimum to buy a domain). Then, you just have to hustle hard and you can make it happen.
But wait…. Building a niche site is not that easy…
Yeah… I would be lying to you if I told you that you will make a 25% return on your first site. I didn’t. And to be totally honest, so far, my niche website adventure has been a great hole where I drop money into. If you look at my blog income report, you’ll see that I made a few thousand so far with all my niche sites. But if I factor in how many hours I’ve put into them, I’m not making money at all. As a matter of fact, it is true for niche website creation, but it is also true about any type of business you want to start. Yeah… sorry to whack you in the face with a baseball bat again… but chances are that you won’t make money with your first idea!
This post is about finding the right idea for your sideline business. It can be a product, a service, a blog or a niche site. It doesn’t really matter. What matters is having the right idea to make some cash!
I still think that niche sites will become a lucrative part of my business as they help my diversification and my latest sites (What is Dividend & Canadian Dividend Stock) are showing way more potential (and they are built differently!).
There are a few differences between these 2 sites and my previous ideas. The one I want to put emphasis on today is the idea behind the site. Dividend investing is a great topic to talk about. And, more importantly, it is a lucrative topic! Selecting the right idea upfront for your site, product or service is definitely the most important step if you don’t want to fail.
All the criteria your idea must meet
Don’t worry; this won’t be an exhaustive list. But the point is that your idea must fit ALL the criteria. If it doesn’t, then it’s not a good idea. Plain and simple. You can always convince yourself that you are still right but then, I’ll have to ask you “where is the money?”. So here’s the list:
Find a sizable market
The first thing you need is people that could possibly be interested in your idea. If you narrow your offer too much, chances are that your market will be too small and you won’t be able to scale your expertise and transform it into money. The personal finance is a highly competitive niche but it is because it is quite large too.
Find people ready to spend
Have you tried to sell something to frugal people or people with huge debts? You need to find out if people are willing to pay for your product / service. In order to find these people, your idea must generally solve a problem, protect people from fear or add value to someone’s life. But the problem needs to be pretty big, the fear important and the added value tremendous to convince people to pull the wallet out of their pockets. This is one of the main reasons why I have chosen the dividend niche. People don’t see buying a book or a service as an expense, they see it as an investment.
Find the benefit(s) of your idea
If your idea can’t compete with a 50 inch TV plasma, chances are that people will prefer to waste their money elsewhere. For example, the main benefit of Canadian Dividend Stock is that it provides CANADIAN information on dividend stocks. People who want to read about Canadian banks, telecoms, REITs, energy stocks will go to this site. Another benefit is that CDS will offer information based on the Canadian reality (like discussing the type of account). Since there are not many bloggers who cover the Canadian dividend market, the benefits are bigger too.
Find how you will make money from your idea
This sounds pretty stupid and obvious but most people skip this step. Don’t just stupidly think that you will put your product up for sale and you are going to rake in tons of money. It’s not gonna happen.
Yeah I know, your product is the best in the world.
And it is unique.
And it has been tested and this is an emerging market, and blah blah blah…
This still doesn’t tell me how you will make a sale! This part of your idea must be incredibly detailed. If not, it will fail. I promise… ‘cause I tried the other way around many times! Lol!
Here’s how you should do it:
For example, I work in the financial industry. I am a financial planner by day. So basically, I do “my job” when I meet clients and transfer their money under my management. I’m a great guy, I’m smart, I know about the market, I have an MBA, I offer great investing solutions and blah blah blah. People don’t care about that. It will definitely help, but it’s not how I close my sales.
This is how I’ve built my business to make money:
How do I sell?
I need a client in my office that will sign the transfer.
How do I get the client?
I need to call a bunch of them and convince them that I have some great investment ideas to show them.
How do I call?
I need lists of clients (my employer provides me with existing clients that have no investments with us, for example.)
So, how do I sell again?
I need to make 20 calls, to get 10 appointments, to get 5 people interested for 3 to sign on the dotted line.
If my average sale is $100K, I need to call 60 clients a week to bring in $300K per week.
NOW I know how I can make money out of my job. Not because I’m a great planner, not because I work for a great firm but because I have a streamlined process.
Then, you can also go deeper for each step (for example, you need to figure out what will be the biggest objections or excuses to not buy your product/service). Once you have done all this, you will have a great idea with a great plan and will bring you a lot of money ;-).
So stop day dreaming and start working (really working) on your idea!
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