I’ve done it myself and many others too, juggling a business and a full time job – living everyday in a state of constant tension and dreaming of the day you can do your startup full time. Whilst that maybe just around the corner or a few years away here’s how to survive in the meantime.
Exhaust the research and testing phase
Before you chuck in the job and camp to your parents basement / attic/ boysquarters. Test your idea then test it again! You can never know too much about the target customer, industry, competitors or technology around your service or product.
Know your customer: Focus groups, survey, networking events – can all happen on evenings and weekends. Continue to keep your afterwork schedule packed with socials to meet your customers and competitors. Keeping your offering innovative and yourself open to meeting partners and possible opportunities.
Testing: There are many ways to test the appetite for your product even if it’s not fully up and running – they don’t need to know that. Promote linkedin/FB posts to get people to “sign up” for this service. See how many prospective clients you get.
Grow your database: Newsletters, blogs and social media – start building a conversation with your audience and pitching yourself as the value add expert in your field.
Hook up all your various office emails to your phone, say yes to all alerts and notification let your phones light up like a Christmas tree. From Shopify to Instagram – keep an eye on who’s contacting you about what even if you can’t answer straight away, use a few minutes during your lunch to prioritise your workload when you do get the time.
From social media scheduling tools to automatic invoicing. There is indeed an App for that. Read the reviews and find the apps that will save you time and keep you looking professional.
Maintain great customer service
Just because you can’t be there don’t let your customer hit a wall of silence. Use auto responses on your dedicated email addresses letting them know when they can expect to hear back from you.
Manage expectation – if it’s taking 24 hrs for you to respond or get your product in the post then be straight up and let them know.
Figure out your complaints policy before you get there. What happens if a client hasn’t received their goods or is unhappy, don’t spend a whole afternoon with your hands tied in meetings while an irate customer is sending you unhappy emails and blasting you across twitter.
Yep I don’t think that’s a real word either. But turn everything into a process now and be so very grateful later. Use dropbox to access your files anytime virtually – be strict with naming folders and storing important info.
Write how to’s and create empty templates. The 5 mins you spend everyday looking for that sales letter no doubt ends up with you wasting time and duplicating work.
Later you’re going to want to bring someone else, how up to speed they get is directly in-line with how well documented and clear your processes are.
Use your holiday and annual leave to attend key meetings.
Equally kiss goodbye to your social life for a while, evenings and weekends are where the bulk of your work should now be done.
Use friends and family
That’s what family is for. I know an entrepreneur who used their retired mum to make sales calls. Ask your friends and family to repost your articles, help stick up posters in their local shops or even just talk about your services to people. At the very minimum it’s free marketing.
Find a nearby coffee shop and use your full lunch break!
Now’s the time to dial back at work, don’t put your hand up for any extra projects. Seek out a quiet café with free wifi a little away from your office. Somewhere you can make calls, hog a table to yourself and be undisturbed for an hour. Or is there a meeting room nobody uses in your office? You will be shocked at how much you can achieve when you have to.
The key takeaway is discipline and consistency. The skills that will see you through your start-up life starts now!
About me: Having set up my own business and worked alongside big companies in strategic roles I can empathise with the challenges facing today’s entrepreneurs. If you want to learn more about Virtual Cofounder – an affordable daily service that helps you keep your start-up growing even when you cant, get in touch today.