It can be a challenge to start an online business while you keep your day job. At times the process could feel like a juggling act; you’ll need a lot of energy and determination.
The general rules for starting a company while you keep your day job might seem like common sense, but some of these items can be easy to overlook and dangerous to ignore.
- Get a decent smart phone with an inexpensive plan. Keep this phone completely separate from all day job activities and don’t share the number with anyone at your day job. Set the phone to vibrate, not ring, when you receive calls and emails during the day. Prepaid Android* smart phones with generous data plans are currently available for around $50 per month, plus the cost of the phone.
- Set up a primary customer service email address through your web host, carefully choosing one primary address for customer service inquiries (like ‘firstname.lastname@example.org’). Configure your web host control panel to forward those emails to your smart phone.
- Rent a mail box service close to your home that offers addresses that don’t look like drop box numbers. Ideally the store can give you an address like “100 Main Street #1103” and not “100 Main Street, Box #103.” This helps you avoid looking like a tiny company online, and it prevents the rare problem customer from showing up at your home. Expect to pay around $100 per year in most areas to rent your drop box.
- Never publish your home address on your website for your own safety. The moment you do, web directories will capture that address and publish it online forever.
- Get an inexpensive toll-free number to publish on your website, and forward those calls to your smart phone – at least to start. You might not be able to answer calls and emails right away, so respond to the most urgent messages during daily breaks from your day job. Answer every inquiry as soon as you can, and in every case within 24 hours. You can get a toll-free number starting at around $10 per month.
- Tell no one at work about your second career if you’re a salaried employee, and also avoid telling anyone who is even a casual acquaintance of your co-workers. Humans are naturally jealous, and you could quickly find yourself fired if you tell the wrong person.
- Keep online social networks separate, using care to never discuss your moonlight career on any of your personal social networking pages.
With some hard work and luck, your business will grow to the point where you can no longer handle all of the work and still keep your day job. Surprisingly this doesn’t mean that you have to quit your day job… if you find the right outsourcer.
Next we’ll talk about tactics to grow your business at a reasonable cost.
* This is not a paid endorsement.