The Special Challenges of Starting a Part-Time Business

HourglassI have clients who can only work in their businesses part-time. The reasons for this include being a parent of small children and only having part-time childcare for say three mornings a week, or two to three days a week.

I have other clients with full-time or nearly full-time jobs who may be hoping for redundancy and prepared to work double-time for a bit while plotting their escape from the rat race. One client told me this morning that negotiating a 9-day working fortnight in her day job was one of the best things she’d ever done.

I remember at our first call suggesting that without any time to give to her new business there wouldn’t be much of a business. You do have to carve out some time, however small that amount of hours is to begin with.

It also means a few other things.

1. You have to set up a working environment which supports your business goals. This might mean leaving the house if you have your small child being cared for at home. Or a sound-proofed office at home with a door that shuts. Don’t laugh, I watched the determined partner of one of my entrepreneurial friends hammer up the soundproofing in the week after his daughter came into the world. Stranger things have happened. Perhaps it was because he was a Dad? Or perhaps it was because he knew when he was working he’d have to be able to shut out the sounds of her or he might prefer to be with his darling first born. Certainly she’s turned out just fine.

2. You need to be very focused in those few hours which are available to you. There is some evidence to suggest that if you only have a couple of hours a few days a week you can get a lot more done than those of us with the luxury of plenty of time to fritter. Systems and habits are your answer here – plan what you are going to do and when, introduce deadlines and accountability and don’t let anything get in the way of your steely-eyed determination.

3. You have to know why you are doing it and be very motivated. If you don’t have something snapping at your heels then the exhaustion caused by your parenting and/or day job, will mean there’s nothing left in the tank for you and your new biz. It’s all too easy to crash on the sofa with a glass of wine when you had promised yourself to write another chapter of your book/blog/chunk of website copy tonight. Get a group around you who care whether you do or not. We’ll strengthen your own resolve. It’s a bit like having a buddy you go to the gym with. Your commitment to them embarrasses you into going!

4. Set realistic expectations of how long all this is going to take. Keep an eye out for the inspiration of miracle workers who do create businesses in four hours a week and know that it can be done. Since I work a lot on Skype I can tell when my clients come on line. And I see those who decide early morning is best, or evenings after the kids go to bed. I see them do it and do it and do it. Commitment, that’s the name of the game. I’ve only been coaching for a decade or so but now those parents have kids at University and time to move full-time into the entrepreneur space. Tempus fugit but you don’t need to wait until yours are at Uni before you can start your own part-time business. Part-time is best, in many respects, as you have to set it up right from the beginning. You simply haven’t got time to do it all yourself. Hooray!

5. Cut yourself some slack sometimes e.g. when you are poorly or when your family are. That’s life. Do not beat yourself up.

That’s it really.

  • Structure.
  • Timetable. Learning how to use time really effectively.
  • Accountability.
  • Deadlines.
  • Be kind to yourself sometimes but no slacking allowed.
  • Have it matter, make it count. Care. Believe.
  • Be more efficient than the rest of us in less time.
  • Know your Big Why.
  • Do it for you and those you love. But mainly for you.


Sorry, but you have to got to laugh somewhat hysterically at our human ambitions sometimes. I feel your pain, honestly I do. But I also know it can be done because I’ve seen clients do it. If you want some help and support with that, you know where to come.


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