In the US, approximately 543,000 new people start a business each month. However, even more shut down. That’s an incredibly insightful statistic, revealing much about the way our culture has evolved in thinking of entrepreneurship and what it really takes to start a business.
As of 2011, there were over 28 million small businesses in the US, with more than 22 million of those self-employed with no additional payroll or employees. That’s a whole lot of solopreneurs striking out to start a business and make their dreams come true.
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The sad thing is, the majority of entrepreneurs attempting to start a business are destined for failure. Even some of the world’s top entrepreneurs failed miserably when setting out to start a business for the first time.
It’s not because they aren’t smart, hard-working, or well-connected. It’s because they make just one (or more) very bad decisions right at the beginning when they’re getting started. If you haven’t taken the time to discover your strengths, or you haven’t gone down the path of entrepreneurship before, it’s honestly hard not to make these mistakes.
If you’re looking for inspiration on which type of side business you should start, check out my picks for the 101 Best Side Businesses You Can Start While Working Full-Time.
This infographic and post explores those bad decisions (I’ve made most of them myself), provides you with detailed insights on how you can avoid all of them, and gives you the tools to start your business and successfully grow it beforeyou quit your 9-5 job.
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I’ve started 4 businesses, all of which began while I was either a full-time student or had a full-time job after college, working 50+ hours/wk. With one of them, (my phone case business) I quit my day job a little too early and I learned a lot from that experience.
That single choice created a longer term effect on how quickly we were able to scale the business due to cash flow constraints. It ended with me having to move back in with my parents. It was a dark time filled with reading a whole lot of motivational quotes to help reignite my flame. I’ll come back to this later.
For now, let’s start with this. Don’t quit your job before you start a business.
Let me elaborate, don’t quit the job that serves as your primary source of income (i.e. how you can afford to live, eat, and have fun) without already having steady revenue and traction with your new project. Even if you have a nice cushion of savings set aside and plan on outsourcing most of your work or using sophisticated online business tools, that’s just too much pressure for most people. The kind of pressure you don’t want when you need to be mentally at your best.
If you want even more resources to help get your business off the ground quickly without wasting time and money, check out my recommendations for the 76 Best Business Books for Entrepreneurs or take it to the next level with one of the 101 Best Online Business Courses for Entrepreneurs.
Next, I’ve broken this guide to starting a business into ten distinct sections that’ll guide you through the process of getting your business up and running (while still managing to maintain performance at your day job). Each of the ten steps (menu items) below are clickable and will take you directly to the section of this guide that you click on.
👋 I recommend bookmarking this guide so you can come back to it and pick up where you left off.
How to Start a Business (on the Side) in 10 Steps
1. Make the Commitment
2. Inventory Your Strengths and Interests
3. Validate Your Idea (Before Building Something Nobody Wants)
4. Create a Competitive Advantage (What Makes Your Business Unique)
5. Set Detailed, Measurable, and Realistic Goals
6. Build a Road Map to Launch Date and Beyond
7. Outsource Your Weaknesses
8. Actively Seek Objective Feedback
9. Don’t Blur the Line Between Work & Your Business
10. Reach Critical Mass Before Quitting Your Job