Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : December 21st 2014 Contents If you are fed up with the cubicle life
you might want to leave your job,
but then there are the loan com-
mitments and the other advantages
of a secure income. You have this
idea that is bugging you for some
time and you want to implement it
before someone else does.
Alternatively, you might be a student and
have some great ideas and some time. You
have read about the many entrepreneurs like
Michael Dell who started his venture while at
school and used his apartment to launch a
computer company. You wonder also about
having extra income while you get an education
or having a new venture that can sharpen your
business or technical skills while still at school.
What do you do?
Can you have your cake and eat it too?
Can you keep your job or student life and
start a new venture?
You might think you have two choices, either
stay as an employee or become an entrepre-
neur. But there is another and it is a middle
of the road path that many take. You can
become a part-time entrepreneur.
It is a balancing act as you will have to con-
sider a number of issues.
Starting a business carries risk. There is the
obvious financial risk. You can lose your capital.
There is also career risk. You may have to give
up your job and all the future benefits that
you could have earned. These are the social
risks of what others have to say about you
when it fails. In local slang one would say "he
buss". In our society (unlike in the US) many
look down at aspiring entrepreneurs who have
Starting a business part time helps you lower
these three risks.
You still have your job, its benefits and, if
it fails, you can recover financially and socially
you can continue as if nothing has happened.
In addition, when your venture turns a rea-
sonable profit, you can always leave and be
a ful- time entrepreneur.
Experts advise that if you plan to start a
business put aside at least one year s living
expenses as your start-up business probably
would not generate a profit. Even when it gets
going it might require more cash that you
A full-time job is your fall back if things
don t go as planned. You can also use your
job s income to invest in your cash-starved
Remember, a start-up venture is like a cash
sponge; it soaks up cash and releases little.
It is true that in the beginning a business
may require a lot of preliminary things to be
done. Even when these are out of the way,
the demands of the proposed business maybe
be small and you could have time on your
hands. It takes time for customers to buy or
to locate good suppliers or complete the market
The bank loves you
Banks might view you as a good credit risk
as you have a steady job and you can always
use your full-time job to meet your loan obli-
gations. Your family, too, might support your
decision to hold down your job while you
explore other options. Your good credit rating
may not be affected if your new business is
supported by your full-time income.
If you have a demanding full-time com-
mitment and a part-time one, this could mean
that you are spread too thin. Sometimes things
may not get done and this might be the impor-
You also may not be able to resolve certain
start up issues quickly. The result could mean
you lose on both sides. Worse case: you lose
your job and the business.
Proper time management and possibly
bringing in a family member or partnering
with someone could resolve this. Using tech-
nology like voice, e-mail and a Web site that
can provide information 24/7 would be a great
When customers call and you do not respond
immediately, this could be perceived as non-
commitment. While there are ways to resolve
this, it is a challenge to prove that you have
the flexibility to respond to their needs. Your
best bet is to start a business that can accom-
modate your part-time venture.
Balancing two jobs is stress full and demand-
ing. This could mean working long hours,
weekends and public holidays. This could take
a toll on you and your family. You may need
to set up the business with a competent super-
visor to assist and make decisions when you
are not available.
Eggs in a basket
A part-time strategy for starting a business
is about taking risks intelligently. It s all about
practising risk management and entrepreneurs
know all too well that they are not gamblers
but balanced risk takers. Why put all your
eggs in one basket?
Why not test the waters as a part-time
entrepreneur before you jump in. This might
just save you a lot of time, money and stress.
Sajjad Hamid is an SME consultant.
He can be reached at:
SUNDAY BUSINESS GUARDIAN www.guardian.co.tt DECEMBER 21 • 2014
The part-time entrepreneur
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