I had a good side business with my day job back in the day, I rented an office, hired employees, and worked with them remotely while doing a good job for my employers. I ran at least 3 side businesses while working for the man.
Let me first debunk an insidious lie that has killed many careers:
“Your salary is the bribe they give you to forget your dreams”. It is just NOT true. “Your salary is what you earn while giving value to your employers and learning to run a business at their expense”
We can’t all start business straight out of university. Many of us have to work for food, clothing, and shelter after graduating. Others need to support struggling family members. Whatever your reason, please don’t see paid employment as a betrayal of your goals.
I’ll share the five steps that helped me build my own businesses on the side while delivering value to my employers.
Step 1 – DON’T STEP TOO FAR FROM YOUR CORE COMPETENCE
If you work in banking, you probably understand finance better than most people. If you work for a FMCG, retail may be your forte. If you work in tech…
Find something that is in your natural sphere of influence.
My father was the CFO for a major corporation in the 80’s when he had the genius idea of building an agro-chemical business on the side. Bad idea.
Accounting and agro-chemicals are so far apart that the business never succeeded.
Stay in your lane, bro.
My first side business was a tech development firm. We built business strategy implementations tools. I was a business leader implementing a new strategy for my paid employment.
The tech we built was based on my experience delivering value to my day job’s board of directors.
Step 2 – ALWAYS START SMALL
There are no guarantees in business. Your business can fail despite the best laid plan and even topnotch implementation. Start small, then scale slowly until you can do it full-time.
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I have a friend who started a restaurant in Lagos with about $250,000. He had the money and thought it would be a good idea to blow out the competition on day 1. He lost everything.
Step 3 – WORK WITH A PARTNER
It is important for one of the business owners to work full-time in the business. If that’s not feasible, give a small equity holding to your most senior employee. That way someone in the business has ownership stake that binds him/her to the firm.
Step 4 – RECOGNIZE THE PLACE OF INSTITUTIONAL SUPPORT IN YOUR DAY JOB
You are a Star employee. That’s great. Corporations
Step 5 – DON’T LEAVE YOUR DAY JOB UNTIL YOUR SIDE BUSINESS CAN PAY THE BILLS
You’ve gradually built a business while working for the man. Is it time to resign and face your hustle full time? Maybe. But please be sure that your hustle can pay the bills before making the jump.
How do you deal with employers who don’t tolerate this – the side hustle? Some even have it in their
rule books. Any suggestions?
Your time is yours after 5pm. Trust me, even your MD has a side hustle. Give your employer your best till 5pm and then face your hustle afterwards. Keep it quiet, though. Nobody needs to know you’re not going home to watch TV after work.
How do you work around the conflict of interest issue?
Don’t compete directly with your employer and don’t become a supplier to them. In my view, most businesses that don’t violate direct competitive and supplier clauses won’t get you in trouble. Phil Knight ran Nike as a side hustle for about 10 years while working at PWC.
How can I cope with a 12-hour shift in a mentally demanding environment? Though I have alternating weekly day and night shifts.
Desire + partnership. You can do anything if you want it bad enough. But you also need a partner. Someone who can implement while you think and strategize for the business.
About Dr. Tayo Oyedeji:
He is a Professor, an Entrepreneur & Business Leader with expertise in Marketing and Technology. You can also get more of his website and you can also follow him on twitter
by David Obiakor