How to Find the Time to Start Your Side Business

The following guest post is written by Kimberly Palmer, author of a brand new book, “The Economy of You: Discover Your Inner Entrepreneur and Recession-Proof Your Life,” which comes out later this month. Kimberly is a senior money editor for U.S. News & World Report and the creator of Palmer’s Planners, a line of digital financial guides on Etsy.

Note from Anna: Kimberly and I go way back. I interviewed her on one of my very first networking challenges about money and financial advice for professionals. Here’s the video link.

How to Find the Time to Start Your Side Business

Starting a Side Business

When I first got the idea for my side business of selling money planners on Etsy, I hardly had time to eat lunch every day. I was a busy working mom, working my way up the career ladder at my full-time magazine job. As I picked up more management duties over time, I found I had even less control over my schedule. But I knew I had still had to find a way to build my creative business, or I’d start to feel stifled, and wonder what I was missing out on.
So I did find a way. I researched competitors after my kids went to bed. I scheduled Tweets and blog posts to publicize my new business during nap time on the weekends. I wrote and designed my planners by taking a few well-timed vacation days. I took advantage of small slivers of time whenever I could – on lunch breaks, while my husband drove the car, and while standing in line. (Thank goodness for smartphones and the apps that let you create Etsy listings, browse the Internet, and Tweet from anywhere.)
As I interviewed over 100 other side-business owners for my new book, “The Economy of You: Discover Your Inner Entrepreneur and Recession-Proof Your Life,” I found some recurring themes in how other busy, working professionals also found the time to pursue their business dreams. A lot of them got up before the birds, sacrificed lunch breaks, and relied on partners and other family members for help. Here are five commonly used strategies that could help you find the time to launch the side-business of your dreams, without giving up your full-time job:

1. Set your alarm an hour or two early

Khaled Hosseini, the bestselling author of “The Kite Runner,” has said that he woke up at 4:45 am to work on his novel before starting his shift as a hospital doctor. It’s painful in the short-term, but offers a big pay-off – building your entrepreneurial dream.

2. Use downtime sprinkled throughout your day

Lunch breaks, commuting time, and even the line at the bank can give you a few minutes to draft a blog post, send a Tweet, or browse the blogs of competitors in your field. Douglas Lee Miller, a social media consultant in Chicago who also holds down a full-time university job, does client work on his iPad while commuting to work on the bus.

3. Do less

Melissa Van Orman, a health care consultant and yoga teacher in Washington, D.C. realized she could only build her dream of being a yoga teacher if she stopped cooking dinner at night. Instead, she teaches evening classes, which her husband attends, and then they eat simply, without cooking, afterward.

4. Take a break

If your company offers sabbaticals, extended vacations, or even liberal leave policy, then you can sequence your work to focus exclusively on your budding business for periods of time. Life coach Jenny Blake, who worked for Google when her first book, “Life After College,” came out, took a three-month sabbatical to promote it. (She eventually left her full-time job to focus full-time on life coaching and other pursuits.)

5. Make your family members part of the business.

Just as Melissa invites her husband to yoga class, other side-business owners also found ways to incorporate their family members into their new venture. Sometimes working together is even an option. When my husband and I co-designed a Net Worth Planner for my Etsy shop, it was almost as much fun as a traditional date night. (Almost.)
Even if you’re feeling completely maxed out at your day job, you might discover that finding a way to build your dream business ends up giving you more energy, not less. That’s because pursuing your entrepreneurial vision, especially when you know it helps others, is an incredibly satisfying, validating feeling – an attitude that you can then bring to your day job, too.

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