Find your perfect match for a successful part-time start-up.
Launching a company – even if it’s operated part-time – is all about drawing on your skills, talents and interests to create a viable business. What you know and what you’re good at form a good basis for a part-time business because these companies either become an extension of what you enjoy doing most or they are based on your strengths.
Working part-time while still maintaining a permanent job is time consuming and often exhausting, so choosing what you take pleasure in or are good at can keep you focused and motivated. The right fit is important when it comes to launching a part-time business. Selling a service rather than a product does not require large start-up costs, which means you can grow your business without financing until it becomes self-sustaining.
Corporate Communications & Promotions
Corporate communications covers a host of areas, mainly because this is the sector that takes care of how companies look to the outside world – something that is very definitely a service, but also that is not often taken care of in-house. If you can write, edit, have a knack for advertising, can take photographs or create promotional and corporate videos, you can offer your services part-time to companies both large and small that are in need of these services.
1. Public Relations
If you’ve got media know-how, a nose for news and you can write well, you’ll make an ideal public relations expert.
Advantages: Since PR is predominantly based on generating news, press releases and making contact with the media, it is largely email based, allowing you to conduct your business after-hours and on weekends. As a service based on your contacts and skills it has low start-up costs.
Skills: The ability to write as well as spot a good news story, promotional opportunity or simply a way to draw public attention to a specific company at a specific time.
The Market: Your client base will include businesses, organisations and individuals who seek media coverage or who need media training, but are either not familiar with the media or want to concentrate on their own businesses and leave the PR to a professional.
What you’ll need: Strong media contacts, a mailing list, press release writing experience and a computer with a high-speed modem.
2. Freelance Photography
Photography-Business-Part-Time Business Ideas
Love to take photos? Freelance your expertise.
Photography is creative, versatile, flexible and above all it caters to a wide and diverse range of markets. And, if you love taking photographs, you will relish this chance to explore your creativity while still paying the bills.
Advantages: You can control how much you work. Perhaps you are happy to work one wedding or corporate event a month. Or maybe you would like to build your client base and so will take on as much work as you can. Photography is flexible because there are so many outlets within the field. It has become the norm to hire a professional photographer for weddings and events. Email and the ability to send images to clients, publishers, editors, copywriters, marketers and designers all around the globe in a matter of minutes has breathed new life into the freelance photography industry as well. Billions of photographic images are needed to fill the now more than four billion (and climbing) web pages. There is a very broad scope to work within.
Skills: An artistic eye and the ability to follow briefs and deliver what your client asked for, as well as some knowledge in design or ‘photoshopping’.
The market: This is an incredibly broad sector that includes anything from events to stock images, family portraits to news and advertising shots.
What you’ll need: An excellent camera, additional lenses, lighting, a photo editing system, and ideally an agreement with local album and ‘photobook’ manufacturers for cheaper deals.
3. Corporate Videos
Videography-Business-Part Time Business Ideas
Put your filming, editing and creative skills to use producing corporate videos for promotions, events and training.
Advantages: Without question this is a business venture that requires a great deal of research, planning, investment capital and experience to operate successfully. However, with the ever-increasing demand for corporate and training videos, the time to start a corporate video production service has never been better. If it is a day-time event or training video you need to shoot, you might need to hire a freelance camera man while you are at the office, but editing can all take place after-hours, and many functions, particularly weddings and corporate functions, take place over the weekend or at night.
Skills: Filming, editing and creative skills.
The Market: The service can be marketed directly to potential customers, or it can be established as a joint venture with an existing advertising agency or marketing agency. The market covers all companies, large and small, in all sectors and industries.
What you’ll need: A production quality camera, editing suite and sound equipment. Although it is beneficial to have your own equipment you can hire cameras and studio time in local editing suites.
4. Small Business Advertising Agency
Advertising-Agency-Part Time Business Ideas
Create cost-effective advertising campaigns for small businesses without big budgets.
Advantages: Capitalising on your advertising, marketing or public relations experience, you can create specialised advertising campaigns for small business clients that will directly reach their target market, stay within their budget and get the results they want. Your clients will therefore be small and manageable, and they will accept that you do your work after-hours because you are costing them less than a larger advertising firm would.
Skills: Advertising and marketing skills and experience are a must, particularly in an industry where contacts are important.
The Market: Many advertising agencies concentrate on big corporations with massive advertising budgets, leaving small business owners to figure out how best to advertise their products and services. Advertising is costly, and small business owners cannot waste money on advertising that does not hit the target and get results. Creating cost-effective advertising campaigns is one of the toughest challenges that most small business owners face.
What you’ll need: A good media contact list. Designing experience would also be beneficial.
5. Writing, editing and proofreading services
Proofreader-Part Time Business Ideas
Have a way with words? Put it to good use through copywriting and editing for other businesses.
Advantages: Just about any company, organisation or individual that needs printed or electronic information of any form could use the services of a copywriter, editor or proof-reader, which makes the market very broad. In addition to this, there are thousands of on and off-the-shelf business magazines published each month that require the services of specialist writers.
Skills: Strong grammatical skills, the ability to write, edit and pay attention to detail.
The Market: Depending on what area you focus on, potential clients for editors can include advertising agencies, marketing agencies, publishers, authors and printers. Copywriters prepare copy or text for advertisements, marketing brochures, press releases, TV and radio commercials, catalogues and packaging labels, just to mention a few and proofreaders can work across all these sectors.
What you’ll need: The main requirement for starting an editing or writing service is to have computer equipment and the usual office software. You’ll also need a laser printer and a fax machine. In addition, you’ll want plenty of reference books, including a dictionary, encyclopaedia, thesaurus and style guides. Since you will predominantly be working and interfacing with your clients online, an Internet connection is also a must.
Tip Establishing alliances with advertising agencies, graphic artists and public relations firms is an outstanding method to market a copywriting, editing or proofreading service, as these types of companies can refer your service to their clients, or utilise the service themselves.
Business today is online. Websites, social networking, even news lie in the online domain. If you have an understanding of online trends and how websites function and perhaps even how they are built, you can build a successful start-up on an online model. The beauty of web-based businesses is that they are online: you don’t need an office and you don’t need to work regular office hours, making this the ideal realm for part-time businesses.
6. Internet Marketing Consultant
Digital-Marketing-Consultant-Part Time Business Ideas
Online acumen and a talent for marketing? Help others plan their online campaigns.
While a website is an essential business tool, simply having a presence on the Internet does not guarantee a company an increase in business or site traffic. A successful Internet marketing consultant will develop ways to increase a client’s website traffic, create site content and services, devise web advertising campaigns and boost sales by setting up links to other sites.
Advantages: This business is creative, challenging and has staying power, particularly as the Internet is only growing. Because you are working on websites and strategies, you can conduct business largely after-hours and on weekends.
Skills: A strong understanding of the web, experience in links, banners, affiliate programmes, net navigation and promotion via the Internet. Talent in traditional advertising and marketing is also a must.
The Market: Focus on businesses with up-and-running but not necessarily successful websites. Choose a target market that you preferably already have experience with and start a direct-mail campaign aimed at companies in that field to start and then grow your client base. Most importantly, create your own website and build links to other Internet sites to help potential clients find you.
What you’ll need: A computer with a high-speed modem, an inkjet or laser printer, and subscriptions to a wide variety of Internet service providers and online communities.
Tip Develop your own niche market to avoid being buried by the competition, and follow the trends and movements within that market by subscribing to your niche’s professional or trade magazines and journals.
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7. Web Design
Web-Designer-Part Time-Business Ideas
Help clients design winning websites.
Web presence gives companies access to millions of potential customers throughout the world. A good website can be a winning advertising campaign, marketing brochure and even mail order catalogue without any printing, postage or phone costs. The problem is that for most people, designing a website is on a par with building a TV set – a major mystery best left unexplored.
Advantages: This business is creative, it can be started on minimal budget and even HTML is not too difficult to learn. You can also deal with clients anywhere in the world without needing to leave your computer.
Skills: Besides a general understanding and familiarity with cyberspace, an understanding of HTML and a flair for graphics and copywriting are also essential skills in web design.
The Market: The market is virtually limitless. Every company around the world should have a website, giving a scope for new and upgraded sites. To get started, choose a geographic or specialty area to start with and then send direct-mail pieces explaining the values of a website and your services. Create your own impressive website to attract business and to serve as a sample of your work.
What you’ll need: A computer with a fast Internet connection, a scanner, web creation software and a graphic design package.
8. Tax Accountant
Accountant-Part Time Business Ideas
Help clients organise their taxes to get the biggest return.
Advantages: The advantages of this business are that you can work at home under flexible hours, it’s recession-proof because people will always need to pay their taxes, and it can be very profitable.
The Market: You can work with individuals to fill out their yearly tax returns, specialise in small business tax preparation, or represent clients who’ve fallen under SARS’ radar and are being targeted for hefty penalties.
Skills: As a tax preparation expert, you should have a solid working knowledge of tax laws for your target market. You’ll need a good eye for maths and the people skills to help your clients make the best of a usually nerve-draining situation. You should also have the experience and instincts to judge whether the information your clients give you is legitimate or doesn’t quite ring true.
What you’ll need: You don’t have to have any sort of license or certification. You’ll need a computer with a laser printer, a fax machine, a copier, the usual office software and tax preparation software
9. Business Consultant
Help others grow their businesses as a business consultant
Advantages: Working as an independent contractor on special projects for a number of clients offers flexible hours and the excitement and pace of the corporate world. However, you would need to operate within normal work hours occasionally as well, so make sure you have the freedom to do so when necessary.
Skills: You’ll need a strong background in your area of expertise coupled with stellar marketing skills to convince potential clients of your worth. You’ll also need excellent communication and people skills – you’ll be going into the company as an outsider, which can be good or bad, depending on the interpersonal culture of the company.
The Market: The business world. Network among professional and civic organisations in your area and among present and former colleagues. Write articles for the business section of local publications. Give talks to business groups and seminars or workshops at local colleges.
What you’ll need: You should have top-notch credentials in your specialty – you’ve held prominent positions, can cite professional certification, belong to pertinent organisations, have written books or articles, or taught courses or workshops. You should also have a reference network – colleagues or other business people who can attest to your expertise and business smarts. Besides what’s in your head, you’ll need the standard office setup – a computer, a laser printer, a fax machine and the usual office software.
10. Business Plan Consultant
Use your entrepreneurial experience to help aspiring business owners through the planning process.
Advantages: To get the most from a start-up – from knowing where you’re headed and obtaining financing, to planning that perfect marketing campaign – the small business newbie needs a business plan, but most people don’t know how to write one. If you’ve got business experience, you know how to pen a business plan and you like working with other people to make their dreams reality, then becoming a business plan consultant could be an ideal part-time start-up. Entrepreneurs typically work well beyond the normal 8 to 5 business day, so meeting them after-hours is no problem. As a start-up yourself, you will be able to offer lower rates to build your clientele as well. Because you are selling a skill, start-up costs are low. Later, you can branch out to work with established companies that are looking for new or additional financing, want to franchise, or form a merger or acquisition with another firm.
Skills: You’ll need a solid grounding in business basics from finances to marketing and in the mechanics of a good business plan. You’ll also need good business writing skills, the ability to manipulate figures and super communication skills. You’ll need to work closely with your clients to interpret their ideas and produce plans custom-made for their businesses instead of boilerplates that go nowhere.
The Market: Initially start-ups and later more established firms. The basic principles of a business plan allow you to work across sectors and industries.
What you’ll need: A computer system with the usual office software, a laser printer and a fax machine are all must-haves, particularly spreadsheet software for working out financials.
Nadine Todd is the Managing Editor of Entrepreneur Magazine, the How-To guide for growing businesses