Starting a client business, or any business for that matter, when you have a flexible schedule isn’t that complicated. But what about when you work standard hours each week? One of the most frustrating things to me when I was trying to get my business off the ground, was that nobody had any good advice about how to start a consulting business while working full time.
Here are some things to keep in mind that will help you kickstart your business while working 9-5, and hopefully keep you from pulling all of your hair out. Rest assured, it’s doable, and it can be fun at the same time.
It’s really good to dream and have goals about what the future can look like with your consulting business, because it’s a business model with flexibility and so much potential, but every business has to start from square one.
Especially while working another job, just remember to take things one step at a time. Focus on getting that first client, doing a really great job, and moving the needle a little bit every day.
This point was covered pretty well in the article about why client work is the fastest way to financial independence, but here’s the punchline: Use skills you already are confident in, and have some experience with.
Getting potential clients to know you can do a good job for them gets easier the more proof you have of you doing a good job for the clients that came before them. In the beginning though, you have to show your first couple of clients that you can be trusted.
Start with what you can do well, and you can change or adapt later if you want to.
I’m here to tell you that you don’t have to work from 7 p.m. to 2 a.m. and avoid your friends and family while being sleep deprived every day in order to start and grow your online business while working full time.
You will have to make sacrifices though, and use your free time wisely. Time is finite, we can’t make more of it. Since we can’t make more time, we have to eliminate some time wasters to get important things done.
My recommendation is to create a routine you can be consistent with, and work on your consulting business within that constraint rather than trying to just squeeze in time when you feel motivated to (hint: routine beats motivation every time).
Whether it’s working from 8-9:30 p.m. every day after work, or 4 hours every Saturday—schedule regular time to keep moving forward.
Once you land a new client, set boundaries and expectations right away. A common fear is that if you tell new clients that you have a full time job, they won’t want to work with you because they’ll want access to you during normal business hours.
9 times out of 10, clients don’t care when you work, they’re just excited to get the desired outcomes! Let clients know when and how you’ll be communicating with them, and things will go smoothly.
When you start making some money on the side from consulting, you’re going to want to spend it. That dream vacation spot is going to start looking like a really good idea, but you must resist.
If you’re planning on consulting as a side gig specifically for things like vacation money, then have at it. But, if you hope to eventually run your consulting business full time, save as much as you can, so when the time comes to go all in, you have a safety net.
I hope this helped shift some paradigms for you on how to start a consulting business while working full time. It doesn’t have to be painful, so don’t make it be.