WHEN PAUL CAMINITI launched Adrenaline Sports USA , a Glen Allen, Va. athletic training company, in August 2007 the last thing the former mortgage banker thought he’d be doing is painting houses or taking on freelance work to reel in extra income.
However the demands of starting (and funding) a business, in addition to juggling three kids, a sizeable mortgage payment and a $1,500 a month grocery bill, among other things, are daunting — even with his wife’s income. “The water level has been right at our necks,” says Caminiti, who’s turned to part-time gigs to make ends meet. From a financial standpoint, starting a business while simultaneously supporting a family “is extremely stressful,” he says.
Caminiti certainly isn’t alone. Having enough capital to keep a business — and yourself — afloat is often the biggest challenge for start-up entreprenurs. That’s why experts such as Ross Marino, a financial planner who consults with business owners in Wilmington, N.C., suggests padding your pay with part-time income until the business gets going. While working part-time and tending full-time to a fledgling business is hardly ideal, “if you can keep some capital coming in, it can mean the difference between starting up a business slowly and not starting at all,” says Marino.
Having a job on the side can also, in some instances, provide needy entrepreneurs with employer-sponsored healthcare coverage. For these business owners — especially those with preexisting conditions or families to consider — “the benefits are more important than the pay,” says Marino.
Of course, not every part-time job will offer benefits, nor will every job fit perfectly into your new business-focused schedule. That’s why many hiring and small-business consultants recommend assessing yours and your family’s needs and weighing exactly what type of opportunity will be optimal for you.
Keeping Your Current Job
Many entrepreneurs will keep their full-time jobs and launch a business on the side, or they’ll quit entirely. However, if you need to devote more time to your new venture and you need extra income, think about keeping your job but working fewer hours. By working part-time at your job, you’ll continue building a relationship with that employer. Additionally, you might still receive benefits.
Whether your current boss will allow this “depends on what type of company you’re working for and your skill set,” says Pam Newman, president of RPPC Inc., an accounting and consulting firm in Kansas City, Mo. “If you have a skill set that’s not easily replaceable or if you’re an industry expert,” she says, “that’s when you have the negotiation power.”
You might also consider working as a consultant to your current employer, she suggests. As an independent contractor, you’ll typically have even more flexibility than as a part-time worker. Again, such conditions are ideal for individuals with particularly hard-to-replace skills and job knowledge. Keep in mind that as an independent contractor rather than a part-time employee, you’ll likely miss out on employer-sponsored benefits.