While small business is often an alternative to working for someone else, starting a business while still employed can be an attractive option.

You might think that starting a small business is an all or nothing choice - you are either employed or working for yourself. But in today’s ‘gig economy’, starting a business in addition to your main source of employment is becoming a popular choice.

Often called ‘side gigs’ or ‘side hustles’, a small business that you work in part-time while keeping your main employment has many benefits, and can be a sound option for new business owners.

Financial security

The financial security of continuing to receive a wage or salary from your job while establishing a small business in your free time can work very well.

As you are still earning a wage, you’re not putting pressure on yourself or your start-up to pay the bills while establishing your business. This can be better for your stress levels and allow you to approach your decisions more strategically, as you are not chasing work just to pay the bills.

If your side business is successful, it can be a good source of additional discretionary spending money - or a sensible way of building your savings more rapidly than with just your main income.

In addition, many people find that when they spend their spare time focusing on working on a business, they are spending less money on entertainment and socialising - helping stretch their funds much further.

Test your concept

The side gig is also a good way to test and refine your business idea before deciding whether to go ‘all in’. While it’s very sensible to research the feasibility of your business concept before you start, sometimes you can only truly understand if your idea will work by testing it in the real world.

Establishing your business in addition to having a regular job is also a safe way to see if you enjoy all the aspects of running a small business, including financial management, marketing, customer service and more. You will also quickly understand whether you have the right set of skills to run a business, or need to invest in some more learning, for example by doing some of the SBDC’s business skills workshops.

Sense of purpose

Sometimes we can get in a slump doing the same thing for many years. Putting your creative energies into getting a side hustle up and running can give you a new sense of purpose and enthusiasm, which may even translate to your day job.

Even if you don’t have all the skills needed to run a business yet, these can be learnt in time, and just because you start out part-time, doesn’t mean your business can’t eventually grow into a full-time endeavour. Apple, Facebook and in WA, Canva’s predecessor Fusion Books, all started out as side projects which grew into highly successful corporations - so maybe your seed of a business can also grow into a big tree.

More information

If you are wondering when it’s the right time to start a business on the side, why not take our free Starting a Business workshop which covers all the essentials including assessing your business idea, understanding if you are ready to run a business, financing your idea and more?

And if you already have a passion that you plan to turn into a side hustle, you may find it worthwhile to define whether it’s a hobby or a business to help make business decisions.

Starting and growing
15 January 2022