Part Time Businesses: Maximising your time (and income)

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Running another part-time business alongside your 9-5? Here at Heelan Associates we love supporting small business owners across Hampshire.

We’ve gathered some handy hints to maximise your limited time while you start to make an income. All to help you make your business work, streamlining your operation and really maximising your time.

Before these tips however, a little foreword in general from our experiences of working with small business:

Make the time to work ON your business and not IN your business.

This is very important to the budding entrepreneur. There are lots of books on the subject of what makes a good business person (and we have read A LOT……) but one recurring theme would be this one.

It can be very difficult to pull yourself away from the physical operation of your side business, especially if you are juggling this with another day job. Finding some time to work on the business itself is the most important thing you can do.

In these early days you are all of the departments – marketing, HR, operations, packing, finance, customer service… and many more. It is important to take that step back and look at WHY you do what you do, and HOW you do what you do.

For example:
  • Are there ways to improve this process?
  • Is there a better software solution that will make this process more efficient?
  • Should I market to this social media site? Am I marketing to the right people?
  • What is my ‘Brand’? What’s my vision for the business? How do I tell my story?

We would recommend scheduling 1-2 hours a week, every week, to work on these ‘strategic’ elements of your business.

Put this in your diary, at a time where you work best, and stick to it. Make it fit. Add up the amount of time you may spend on TV, social media etc, can you make 2 hours a week to change your life?

If you are really keen to learn more on the subject, here are a couple of books we would recommend as excellent reads on the subject:

  • The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Business Don’t Work and What to Do About It (Michael E Gerber)
  • Build a Brand in 30 Days (Simon Middleton)
  • Time Management Made Simple (Brian Tracy) – This one is a personal favourite of ours, more of an all-round book that covers life and work. We would highly recommend listening to this book in an Audio Book format for motivational reasons.

Don’t let branding/logos or market research stop you getting out there.

Again, you could read many books on this subject (we’ve listed one above…), but we often find some side businesses never seem to get off the ground because they are looking for that perfect brand or logo or they are saving the cash to have these things designed.

This is not to suggest that you do no research, but don’t let these things put you off starting the business. We’ve seen some truly remarkable businesses started off on a tight budget, with minimal investment in this area to begin with.

Test your ideas with family, friends, co-workers and on social media in your network first.

That said… onto the tips!

  1. Stay on top of your cash.

You may have heard the phrase ‘cash is king’ (we prefer ‘cashflow is king’), but it really is everything to a small business of any size. If you sell product for example, buying a lot of stock and then not being able to shift it, can kill a business quicker than it started, as you run out of cash to buy the next batch of product / materials or new line you want to sell.

Staying on top of your finances is key to this. How much ‘real’ profit are you making? Who owes you money? What are your costs?

It can be easy to see your sales figure and think you are doing well, but the profit in your pocket is all that really counts.

A decent ‘cloud’ accounting system can really help you manage your business finance and save time, with up-to-the-moment-at-your-fingertips-reports. The market leaders Xero and QuickBooks Online are great products we use to help our clients manage their business.

You are in a world now where software businesses are building apps and solutions that talk to other apps and solutions, opening up a world of possibilities to streamline your business. If your part-time business is exactly that, then reading our blog on how cloud technology can save you time will help no end.

We would recommend getting set up with one of these solutions as soon as you begin your business. Getting this set up custom to your business would be a massive benefit, and some of the best initial investment you would make to your fledgling enterprise.

  1. Don’t waste time with book-keeping.

Whether you like book-keeping or not, this takes time up from you actually making money. If you are running side business alongside another job this can be a real issue.

Software solutions as above can really help with this, as can receipt scanning apps. A simple snap of a receipt via some of the marketing leading solutions (Receipt Bank, Auto Entry) can really save time. Heelan Associates run our entire business in the cloud via these apps and the accounting solutions mentioned before, and it really saves significant time.

We’ve found that if you ‘snap and forget’, you will also save tax in the long run as half the battle in tax is having a receipt to prove your expenditure. If snapped and then lost in the car somewhere, it doesn’t really matter – you have the proof.

Being able to structure your book-keeping time effectively in small chunks with this technology will really save you time. You can read 3 tips on this here.

  1. Outsource your weaknesses.

While it’s easy to Google a lot of ‘advice’ these days, your time is your precious resource in a part time business. Rather than trying to teach yourself the technical ins and outs, save yourself the time and effort by getting the pros in. It often won’t cost a fortune as your requirements will be quite small, especially at the start.

Where Heelan Associates can come in handy is for things like book-keeping. Even with a decent cloud accounting system saving you time, it still needs a fair bit of reconciliation, so it’s worth investigating whether there is a more efficient way for you to work in outsourcing this.

It’s why we do not have an IT department. Could we do it ourselves? Probably. Given enough time and Google skills; but it’s far more efficient to outsource it.

From your part-time business’ point of view, how much extra profit can be earned in the time you’ve been sitting bringing your records up to date?

This applies to your own Tax Return completion also – if your business is ‘simple’, you may think you could do your own return (HMRC would love you to believe this is very simple). Apart from the time and risk to complete yourself, have you studied the UK tax code for all the truly deductible expenses (The current manuals are around 22,000 pages)? Save yourself tax and time, along with the peace of mind that it is all correct.

  1. Get paid.

Payment technology has never been this good. Using low cost and easy to use payment methods, you can accept payments efficiently and easily. Saving time and risk here really is a game changer.

Need a direct debit system? GoCardless and others.

Need to take card payments? PayPal, Square, iZettle and numerous others.

Many of these can even link straight into your cloud accounting software for a more streamlined accounting system.

  1. Invest, don’t spend.

When starting up a part time business, cash can be very tight. Look at what you really NEED and invest in those things. Notice we say invest. Any money early should be an investment and as such you should be looking for a return on that money.

That investment could be outsourcing to buy you time (after all, this is currently your part-time business). It could be better advice to maximise what you are doing, different products/stock, better systems for efficiency, bigger space for storage etc.

Unfortunately, the statistics are that only around half of business make it to the 5 year point, so its key to get your money right early. The right advice can save you making mistakes. For example getting advice from a marketing professional could really save you a lot of money on wasted digital spend.

  1. It’s who you know, not what you know.

You’ve undoubtedly heard this before, but never has a truer word been spoken. Use your ‘network’ (and this really could be as simple as the crowd at the pub…) to garner knowledge, make connections and spread the word about your business. You will be surprised by how many people have the specialist knowledge you might need when you get stuck, or really don’t have the time to find the right answer.

Depending on your style of business, getting out to local networking events can be the best use of your time. If you’ve never been to a networking event and not sure where to start, check out our blog on the subject.

Starting a business, especially on the side, can be challenging but really rewarding experience. If you want to start off in the best way possible, an investment in a good accounting team can be the best money you will spend.

Whatever your passion project, we’re here to help you save your time on admin and help maximise your extra income (by reducing your tax bill).

To chat to us about getting your business running more efficiently, please give us a call on 02392 240040.