(Part I of a two-part series)
with Your Job? Man Up and Create Your Own
You have a
respectable, steady job. You provide for your family. You do home
improvement projects on the weekends and even find the time to coach
your son's Little League team. But as you slog away at your 9-to-5
job and go through the motions of daily life, in your own mind, you
feel that true success is still eluding you. You tell yourself that
you should be grateful just to have a way to pay the bills
(especially in the wake of the Great Recession). Yet you can't quite
stifle that little voice that whispers, "there ought to be something
The truth is,
you want to be your own boss � and to own your own business. But,
you think the risks involved in becoming an entrepreneur are just
too great. After all, you can't gamble your current steady income,
your credit, and your family's comfort on a venture that may or may
claims Sean C. Castrina, is where you're wrong.
don't have to gamble any of those things in order to start your own
business," assures Castrina, author of 8 Unbreakable Rules for
Business Start-Up Success (www.newbizcoach.org).
"The solution is to become a part-time entrepreneur. And if you
follow a specific set of rules, there's less risk involved than you
from extensive experience. He has started over 15 companies in
industries including direct mail, home services, property management
and retail � the first while he was working a full-time job. He
emphasizes that you don't need an MBA or a college degree, to become
a successful entrepreneur.
at my group of poker buddies, many of whom are self-made
millionaires," he says. "Only a few made it past high school. One,
who was introduced to roofing as a teenager, now commands the field
and has a multimillion-dollar company reflecting his expertise. Two
others own specialty retail outlets, and are flourishing in spite of
superstore and online competitors. Another owns the area's most
popular restaurant, when so many other food establishments nearby
have gone belly-up."
So, what sets
Castrina and his poker buddies apart? "We all started with what we
believed was a good idea, deciding to take action on it," Castrina
answers. "We didn't wait for ideal conditions. For the most part, we
began building our companies in our free time while we still worked
for other bosses." And he promises, you can do the same.
Castrina, it's easier than ever to become a part-time entrepreneur.
With 20 hours a week (or less) of organized and focused time, you
can build a solid foundation for small-business success. Thanks to
internet-based tools, virtual secretaries and answering services,
you can reach and service many potential customers without ever
leaving your house. Plus, you have 24/7 access to educational tools
and the ability to instantly search for answers to a huge variety of
If you're ready
to create a more rewarding experience than slaving away at a 9-to-5
job that offers little to no security, has disappointing retirement
savings and doesn't come close to paying for your children's college
tuition, then try Castrina's top-10 rules for being a part-time
Figure out your
already have a clearly defined vision for your business: You'd like
to use your background in accountancy to start your own tax service,
for instance. However, it's very possible that you have no idea
which field to go into. (Anything that allows me to be my own man!
you think.) In that case, Castrina recommends starting a service
business (anything from home cleaning to tutoring to adult care) for
the following reasons:
They require minimal money to start. "I've never started a service
business with more than $10k, and many with less than $3k �
including businesses that have made me millions," he comments.
Many service businesses don't require a prior work history in the
field or particular qualifications.
In most cases, they can't be outsourced or performed by computers so
you'll always have work.
Since you can hire others to perform the actual work while you
handle the key behind-the-scenes management tasks (like hiring,
supervising, taking client calls, marketing, etc.), service
businesses are a great source of passive income. "For instance, I
started a mobile car detailing business in my 20s," Castrina shares.
"I hired an employee to do the work, charged $95 for a full detail
inside and out, and gave my worker 50-percent. All I did was make
the phone ring and schedule the jobs. I didn't get rich, but I did
make an extra $25k a year. Not bad for three to five hours of work a
week during my down time."
has a great list of service businesses to start you thinking,"
Castrina shares. "Or you might also want to take a look at
www.newbizcoach.org for more resources."
sure you understand the rules before you start playing. Once you've
familiarized yourself with the possibilities and identified a few
types of businesses that might be needed in your area, try to poll
at least 50 people � to not only determine which services they would
use in the next six months, but also if they'd pay the price you
would charge. Their answers will give you a good idea of which field
you should go into.
pulling the trigger on your business, take time to research the
licenses, permits, and certifications you may need for the industry
you're entering. Then make sure that obtaining them won�t be
prohibitive," he adds. "You can usually find the information you
need at your local business tax office or by contacting your Chamber
of Commerce. And take it from the voice of experience: Start
filling out that paperwork early, as government bureaucracies can be
from anywhere other than your current job.
you'll be starting your new business from home � a place that's full
of distractions ranging from the television to your wife's
"honey-do" list. That's why setting up a dedicated workspace is
crucial for productivity. Depending on your home's layout and your
personal preferences, you might be able to use a spare bedroom, a
basement, a detached garage, or even a nook in the living room as
your office. And if you already have a dedicated man-cave, even
I converted our dining room into an incredible home office,"
Castrina shares. "I was able to do this on a dime because the room
was already equipped with a large but seldom-used table. If you go
this route, you might want to add a file cabinet and swap the
chandelier for recessed or track lighting. As I found out, it's hard
to tap into your entrepreneur mojo when you're constantly ducking a
if you set up a home office, don't forget to capitalize on tax
deduction advantages," he adds. "For example, if you set aside a
separate room of your house in which to conduct your business and/or
store products, you may be able to take a home office deduction. You
can also write off transportation expenses to and from your home to
your business appointments and, in some cases, expenses related to
car maintenance and repair."