I’ve been creating websites for 10 years. I started my career knowing absolutely nothing about web design or development.
I went to school for graphic design and figured web design can’t be much different (though it is).
I’m your typical working class person. I traveled the traditional route of going to college then getting a job. Everyone and I mean EVERYONE would always tell me, “you need to get a good job”, “you need a nice paying 9 – 5”, “work on your resume so someone will hire you”. The person inside me always had to do the right safe thing and I always did.
You may have read books are heard stories of people that will tell you how to be successful, how to be a millionaire, business secrets of someone that’s already rich, and all the rest. Once you read these you realize that this is all coming from a perspective of someone whose already there or has been there for some time.
I bet you’ve heard this before too “You don’t get anywhere without taking risks.” I just want you to know that I hate that saying. I’m married with a newborn baby. Am I really going to “risk” the well being of my family for sake of my dream?
If you’re like me, you can’t just quit your day job and do what you want. However, you still want to do something. Well, I’ve been doing something since I started my career in web design and I’m slowly starting to see the efforts pay off.
I’m going to share with you what I’ve learned in my career so far and how I continue to move forward. I’ve never done this before as I always felt that selfish attitude like “Oh, look what I found, now I’ll keep it for me.” But as I grow, I realize that that is something I just can’t do. I’ll get more into that in another topic, but let’s start off with my opinions on the basics.
1. The Best Time To Start A Business
I think the best time to start a business is once you graduate, whether it’s high school or college. Like most people, when you graduate high school or college you live at home.
When my kid is older he’s going to read this and I’m going to kick myself for writing it, but when you live at home MILK YOUR PARENTS FOR EVERYTHING IT’S WORTH! I’m serious! You really don’t have any responsibilities yet. You may pay a bill here or there, but you’re not paying rent or mortgage. When you don’t pay rent or mortgage, or grocery shop, or (add any one of the many expenses home owners/renters pay), you can live like a king with such a tiny bit of money!
The sad thing for me as an adult, is I didn’t realize this until I was already moved out in an apartment with my wife. But fret not fellow readers, that doesn’t mean it’s too late to start a business. That only means you have to start getting creative and seeing what kind of business you can manage. As a full time web designers/developer, this decision was clear.
The business really doesn’t have any overhead. These were my total expenses
- Buy a computer for working (if you don’t have one) – $2k (Yeah I splurged a little but you know what, you need a good computer. Plus this was like 6 years ago and it’s still running nice!)
- Buy a domain – $10 a year, if that.
- Get a hosting account – $10 bucks a month.
Now you can start at any time, at any point, and your monthly overhead is nothing.
2. Start somewhere
You may not know where you want to be in 5 years, but the key is to start somewhere, anywhere. It doesn’t matter, just do something, even if it’s writing ideas down. I have SO many ideas in my head and topics that my problem is I don’t know where to start. Pick one and roll with it!
If you get caught up with multiple ideas, figure out which one will be the most beneficial to you and start there. Even though you think all of your ideas are million dollar ideas, the reality is, you can’t do everything.
Find what’s practical and push it full throttle.
3. Network your ass off
This is definitely one of, if not the, most important rule of all. What you do now will pay off years down the line. People you meet, events that you go to – these all play a huge factor in getting people to know you. Carry business cards or some type of trinket that you can leave with everyone you meet, and I mean EVERYONE!
When you go to the doctor, leave some cards. If you meet a new person from a friend, leave them a card. Leave cards everywhere you go and with everyone you meet. Make sure they know exactly what you do.
I’ve received calls and emails from people that I barely spoke to saying they had one of my cards and they needs a website. Most of the time this turns into new jobs for me, which means more money! Network and don’t stop networking.
4. Read and Learn as much as you can, as often as you can
Diversify yourself and at the same time keep your niche. What I mean by that is learn a little about everything and apply it to what you already know. Experiment with everything you learn and always remember…You Will Fail –It’s perfectly OK to fail. As a matter of fact, if you never fail, you’ll never learn anything.
Read how experienced professionals do things and see how you can apply it. Learn new techniques to solve common tasks. As long as you keep on learning, you’ll always have an opinion and can figure out how to tweak strategies, techniques, amongst many other things to your benefit.
The best part is you’ll always be able to regurgitate certain things to YOUR audience in your own words… great for blogging!
5. Your business should reflect who you are
You’ll hear stories of how certain people manage their time, and howtheygot money, etc. What you need to do is focus on you. Take everythingtheydid and see how it relates to what you want to do. A lot of times, things don’t work out and certain requirements/capabilities are out of your means. That’s normal.
Your business has to be YOUR success, not someone else’s. Build it how you want it. If something isn’t working, find ways to change it, but you have to remain happy. After all, this is something that you want to do and hopefully have a passion for.
6. Don’t be selfish
Probably the hardest thing to do in any business is share what you’re doing. We hold on to words like “proprietary” or “non-disclosure”. This is my idea and my idea is going to make a million dollars and I can’t share it with anyone because then they will do it.
You’re not going to like me for this but…WHO CARES?!
If you don’t make a move on YOUR idea and someone else does it before you because you shared it, guess what, that’s life. Yes, it may suck but in the time I’ve been creating websites, I’ve realized something.
No one cares about your idea. People are wrapped up with there own ideas and day to day life that they probably don’t even have time to work on your idea. Even still, when you release your idea to the public, guess what, people are probably going to steal it. Sorry to be so blunt but here’s an example:
- Pepsi – Coke
- Seagrams Ginger Ale – Schweppes Ginger Ale
- Windows – Mac
- Ford – Nissan, Toyota, Hyndai
The list can go on. There can be more than one of something, and most of the time there usually is.
The way to deal with it is simple. It’s your idea, so you though of it, therefore, no one will be able to do it like you. Plus, since itisyouridea, you can always change it and you’ll ALWAYS be one step ahead of the person who took it from you.
I understand that this is hard to do because I’m definitely guilty of it myself. By writing this article, I’m basically pouring out my 10 years of experience in business (side business) and letting you in my head. In the future, I’ll also be sharing my “million dollar” ideas and I hope when someone takes them, they give me some cred =).
So there you have it! Those are my 6 essential business tips to grow your side business. If your a full time working person and need some cash on the side, these tips will definitely keep it flowing. If you decide that you want to take your side business and go full time, then these business tips will definitely help your side business grow into a full on business.
About the author:
My name is Jonathan and I’ve been creating websites for about 10 years now.
I love to use the Genesis Framework and have been working in depth with WordPress for the last couple of years. I’m an expert in front-end HTML and CSS as well as a successful web designer and graduate of Ben’s Pro Web Design Course.
You can visit my blog any time at SureFireWebServices.com to find practical uses of html, wordpress, css, and jquery as well as some of my insight to the web world.