How to Become a Web Entrepreneur in Your Free Time

Creating a startup company doesn’t necessarily need to be a full-time, go-for-broke affair. Oftentimes, your biggest barrier to finally embarking on those “be my own boss” dreams is that you’ve settled too comfortably into your career and can’t give up a stable paycheck. But don’t let that stop you from “side hustle”, which means building out your business ideas while you continue to maintain your regular day job. In particular, pursuing a new business that is web-based allows you the flexibility to dedicate time at your own availability and create something compelling with constrained resources. Here are some tips on how to approach this sort of endeavor:

Learn some technical skills on your own

Whatever is your burning idea for a web company, my first piece of advice is to learn some basic technical skills. When starting out, it is usually cost prohibitive to hire a developer. Not to mention, it is better to have more control over your project rather than be dependent on someone else for something as crucial as tech development.

Many non-technical people get frightened at this notion of actually coding, but I will attest that the core languages of the web are extremely learnable — I’m talking about HTML/CSS, javascript/jQuery, and PHP/MySQL. You definitely don’t need advanced computer science degrees to figure these out. There are tons of great tutorials and resources on the web for learning these including W3 Schools and Code Academy. As a general note, I’d say that learning how to program is perhaps one of the most useful skills you can teach yourself in this modern age of technology and the internet. It gives you an extraordinary amount of versatility in your ability to turn ideas into something real.

Find your stride

There are many key pieces to building out any web business, including development, promotion, maintenance/administration, and so on. Expect to wear a lot of hats and get flustered from time to time. Managing so many aspects of business is certainly no small amount of work, but at the end of the day you will find it incredibly rewarding to be able to actually build out your own influential corner of the web.

The prospect of developing a web business while continuing to sustain a full-time job may seem quite daunting, but you’ll begin to realize that the sacrifice in sweat is far outweighed by passion and entrepreneurial fire to succeed in developing out your project. Still, understand you’re still human and can burn yourself out. Focus intensely but pace yourself wisely. Spread the development of your web business over the course of months, expecting to dedicate about 10-15 hours a week towards making progress. And if life gets momentarily unmanageable, you can always hit the pause button and resume when things slow down (one of the best perks of being your own boss). Also remember to get enough sleep when things get busy. An often-made mistake is to constantly sacrifice sleep time to squeeze out a few extra hours of work — you’ll find out that lack of a recharge just burns you out much faster.

Be smart about your time

Perhaps one of the best ways to prevent burnout is to be intelligent about where you dedicate your energy. It is a common curse of entrepreneurs to be nitpicky perfectionists, getting hung up in small details while bigger and more important things need to happen. Don’t spend weeks tooling away on an inconsequential feature when you haven’t even started thinking about how to promote your business yet. Put some thought into finding ways to make your tasks more streamlined as well. For example, if you bill clients for advertising or services, products like SimplifyThis include invoice/payment features that make your life a lot easier, clearing administrative time sucks from your to-do list and giving you extra energy to focus on the more important aspects of building your business. Additionally, be as shrewd as you can be in planning out viable strategies before moving full throttle in any direction. For example, it is valuable investing time into researching where you will find your most loyal customers and how to make inroads in getting their attention, rather than blindly trying to cast a broad marketing net over the web. Stick to principles of smart business and good time management, and you’ll find yourself on your way to creating something successful of your own.

See Gary Vaynerchuk speak about how to stop doing what you hate at Ted.

Be realistic about where this will take you

Side hustle is fun and exciting, and sometimes it becomes successful enough that you can quit your day job and possibly even grow it into a larger company. But even if you build everything out and are only able to make, say $5k to $20k a year (a high schooler’s salary), still be very proud of your accomplishment. Stick with your day job and gladly rake in the supplemental income (view it as a nice raise that you’ve earned). And above all, take a lot of pride that you’ve created something on your own that is far more compelling than the daily grind of normal work. You’ll also discover that the more you do this, the more you learn, and the more successful you are likely to be in the future.

Outside of his day job as a management consultant, Frank Lo has developed a network of ski research sites that focus on connecting hardcore skiers with useful mountain information such as accurate ski resort vertical drop stats, ski resort trail maps, and more.

SimplifyThis is an online invoicing and web appointment scheduling tool designed to help busy entrepreneurs manage administrative tasks so that they can do more of what they love.

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