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How to Take Time off from Work to Work on Your Side Business

Every business, full time or a side gig, involves work setting it up, growing it and establishing it to a point of profitability.

Often times with personal, career, spiritual and other obligations, priorities overtake each other and days fly by in the process.  So where do you find the time you need to work on your business?

One way you can create the time needed to establish your side gig is by cutting down the hours you put into your day job.  If you are a salaried employee, you are paid on tasks completed, or getting the job done, rather than by the hour.

Providing you can complete those tasks remotely, like from your home, taking time off from work to work on your business is completely doable.

When you work from home, you save time spent on rush hour commute.  If you usually go out for lunch while at work, you can save more time by eating at home. If you can maintain a strict discipline, working from home can be a lot more productive because of much less distractions compared to the office.

The key is to use all that saved time effectively by reinvesting it in your business.  By doing this, you will be able to make headway in your business without taking time away from your responsibilities and obligations outside of work.

Even if you don’t have a side gig or aren’t planning on launching one, negotiating work from home arrangements can bring more job satisfaction, cost savings, more flexibility, time with family and house chores, personal appointments or just plain relaxation.

Think about this for a minute.  Most businesses are open during “normal working hours”, typically 9AM to 5PM.  Because you and most others likely work during these hours as well, how do you get time to work on your business – banking for example?

Can you leave your work in the middle of the day, spend 2 hours taking care of personal business, and then staying late to put back those 2 hours into work?

Not everyone can say yes to that unfortunately.  Providing you are not on call (i.e. customer support type professions), working from home gives you added flexibility over how you want to shape up your day.

Your Company Saves Money When You Work from Home

More companies are also increasingly encouraging their employees to work from home.  In tough economic times like we are in today, companies are looking for unconventional ways to cut costs.  One of those is to promote a work from home program.

When employees work from home, companies no longer have to pay rent for the space taken up by the employees. The company also saves on utility consumption, water usage, coffee consumption, insurance premiums and other general and administrative costs of running a business.

Many companies are offering a stipend for employees to set up a home office.  The stipend is to be used for the purchase of an office desk, chair, lamps, supplies, etc.

So for those that always wanted to work from home and didn’t know how to go about negotiating such arrangements, the economic conditions have come in form of a blessing for them (assuming they still have their jobs).

You Save Money When You Work from Home

Aside from the numerous non financial advantages of working from home, you can save a significant amount of money as well by negotiating a work from home arrangement.

There are several work related expenses that we often do not think about too much.  However, the savings from these expenses can add up significantly when you work from home.

Some examples of savings include fuel, toll charges, day care, expensive lunches, dry cleaning bills, less frequent vehicle maintenance expenses and several others.

Take some time to analyze your “commute to work” related costs and determine how much you’d save if you worked from home.  You can take those savings and reinvest them in your business.

How to Negotiate Work from Home Arrangements so You Can Work on Your Business Too

Providing you can add value to your employer remotely, aside from tact, the single biggest factor that determines whether you are able to negotiate a work from home arrangement is whether you can produce more by working from home.  You have to prove the benefit to your employer before you can get their buy in.

When you first approach your employer about this, the reaction will immediately be to ignore you or flat out say no without entertaining your proposal.  This is because you are not the only employee in the organization.

One of the biggest fears an employer has, especially for relatively high paid positions, is loss of productivity generated by employees.   The employer will fear that you might be setting an example that others would likely want to follow as well.

Without realizing that in some cases you might actually be doing your employer a favor by driving employees out of the office and to work from home, your employer will likely be reluctant to agreeing to your proposition.

One way to ease into the process while giving your employer some comfort is by offering to work from home one day a week on a trial basis for a few weeks.  Commit to providing updates on improved productivity.

If you can show significant improvement in value delivered, you may be able to turn the trial into a permanent gig.  Down the road, you can push for more work from home days, or work from home entirely. The more you do this, the more you will be able to work on your business with the free time created.

You may also try to prove your results before asking for a remote work arrangement.  For example, you can call in sick one day. Instead, work from home and work effectively. When you return to the office, show your boss the improvement in productivity.

Mention that you decided to fight the sickness and work through it like a champ.  Bottom line is really about showing added value. This should help your case when negotiating a work from home arrangement.

When you commute to work, you waste time in traffic, parking, walking to the office, getting distracted by co workers all day and then driving back in traffic all over again.  Once you get rid of time wasters and distractions, you should be able to produce more work output from home.

If you’d like some step by step help on how to go about doing all this, including tried and tested scripts, I highly recommend getting a copy of Tim Ferris’ CD titled The Four Hour Workweek.

Tim revolutionized and publicized the concept of lifestyle re-engineering by working remotely in this CD which he released back in 2007. It is the best material I have been exposed to that covers this topic.

I also encourage you to develop effective habits that help work less and get more done to amplify the results of your initiatives when you work on your business.

Even if you don’t plan on or cannot work from home, developing efficient routines in your day to day life has significant advantages and lead to better work-life balance, job satisfaction, low stress and more pleasure going through each day in life.

My Personal Experience

While all this maybe sounding very interesting to you, I want to reinforce that it is also realistic.  In a prior life, I was able to negotiate working from home.  Few months down the road, I was able to relocate to another State over 1,000 miles away from home while keeping my job.

I was able to convince my employer to pay for my airfare, hotel, car rental and meals each time I flew down to the home office.  How did I do it?  By demonstrating value!  So much time was wasted in the office with all kinds of distractions such as commuting to work, fire drills, gossiping / socializing, politics, etc.

I “guestimated” that I could nearly double my output, while creating time to work on my side businesses. And guess what? I did.

Tim Ferris’ Four Hour Workweek helped, and the rest of what made the move possible was based on the relationships I developed, proving my qualifications and credentials, tact as well as personal style and approach to negotiation.

Concluding Thoughts

If you are fortunate enough to be in a position where all your tasks can be done at home, you will be able to put more time and money back into your personal bottom line if you are able to negotiate a full time work from home arrangement.

If your job partially requires your physical presence, rearrange your work week and shift things around so that you are able to work on tasks remotely for at least part of the week.  It’s not about all or nothing.

You take what you can get right now, and negotiate more later on if you can.  If you can’t, perhaps it is time to look for another job that will allow you the work from home flexibility?

How are you finding time to work on your business? What additional tips can you share for those that work full time?

Here are my thoughts on maximizing corporate holiday time to work on your business.

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Next: Three Steps to Breaking Free From Being an Employee

10 Responses to “How to Take Time off from Work to Work on Your Side Business”

  1. Great read Sunil! I actually just started a job that pays salaray, and I’m sure that this company would be flexible with a work-from-home setup. I just have to get a little more experience under my belt so that I can make the proposal! 🙂

  2. Janet says:

    Thank you for your great post! If you have a job where it is possible to work from home then you can concentrate on your side business. As I am working as a teacher assistant I can’t work from home because I can only teach pupils at school. So in some jobs it is not possible to work from home.

    • Sunil says:

      Janet – do you have a typical teacher’s schedule? If so, you have most afternoons, evenings, weekends and 3 months every year to dedicate to your business.

      A friend of mine is a teacher. She teaches 8 months and invests in real estate the rest of the year. She is 35 and she now owns 20+ rental properties. I ask why she still teaches and she says “just” 🙂

      • Janet says:

        Of course I have time to dedicate to a side business because I am only working part-time. When I said that I can’t work from home I meant that I can’t work from home concerning my main job. I just meant that as a teacher you can’t give the lessons at home besides you are a private tutor. But after you have finished your work as a teacher you can definitely concentrate on your side business. A lot of my colleagues don’t have much time for a side business because they are working the whole day at school and they are very tired at the weekends so that they only want to relax. When it comes to holidays they go on vacation and the rest of the time they have to prepare the lessons. Here in Germany we have very strict schedules at school. I am working at a school in a trouble area with very difficult pupils.

  3. Hello Sunil!

    I am fortunate in that I can work a compressed work schedule, (Monday through Thursday, 10 hours per day). This means I have Friday, Saturday, and Sunday to work on my blog, writing, our home, catch up with friends, etc. It works out quite well for me.

    Nice post! I was also thinking you might talk about literally taking time off from work, like a sabbatical, in order to boost your business. Have you done this before?

    • Sunil says:

      Great question Amanda and I think you have given me a topic for a post in the near future. Yes I have done this twice in the past, once voluntarily and once involuntarily due to layoff. Both situations turned out very good for my business.

      This is something I recommend if one is in a position to do so. I just jotted this down on my desktop stickies. A post on this topic is definitely worth writing.

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