Starting any business can be nerve-wracking, especially when you are giving up a steady paycheck. While your overhead costs may not be especially high at first, especially if you do most of your work from a home office and use virtual tools, most people can only manage for so long without a reliable source of income.
Obviously, tapping into your savings while you get your financial planning business off the ground is one option, but it’s not always the most comfortable or smartest money move. The good news is that you have some other options for filling the income gap in the early days of your firm, and even better, some of them can even help establish a stronger foundation and improve your long term business sustainability.
1. Become a Paraplanner
While the idea of starting your own business means that you work for yourself, sometimes you need to work for someone else for a while to ensure a steady stream of income and cover your expenses.
Working part time for another firm as a paraplanner or associate planner is a good way to build your client base and generate a source of referrals, but it can also be detrimental to your own business if you don’t do your homework before you sign on.
While compliance regulations require that you disclose any outside clients you are working with while in the employ of the firm (and you may even need to work under the firm’s supervision), you might also be prohibited from recruiting clients for your own business or doing any financial planning work outside of your duties for the company.
Still, working even part time while you get your feet wet keeps the money coming in and gives you experience.
2. Work on a Project Basis
Most financial planners prefer to develop long-term relationships with clients and work with them on an ongoing basis. However, not everyone needs that type of financial planning.
By offering your services on an hourly or project basis, you can create an income stream that fills the gaps while you develop the longer term relationships. Charging an hourly rate to offer financial advice (for example, a young couple wants to buy a home and needs help coming up with a savings plan) or to conduct a project (such as plan for a new graduate who wants to make smart retirement choices from the start) can bring in some much needed cash — and give you a start on developing relationships with clients who may return for additional planning in the future once your startup is ready to go.
3. Get a Side Hustle
Side hustles are one of the best ways to secure some extra income in the early days of your financial planning business. The list of potential side hustles is endless, especially when you tap into your network and think outside the box. For example:
• Become an adjunct instructor. Colleges and universities are often looking for experienced professionals to teach classes to undergrads. If you earned an online master’s degree in business, you are probably well suited to teach online courses as well. Teaching a single course can earn you several thousand dollars in a semester.
• Start blogging. Chances are you have insight to offer, from both your education and work experience, that others’ can benefit from. Start a blog to share your ideas. Not only can you earn money from advertising, it’s a great way to start attracting new clients to your firm.
• Offer freelance services. Reach out to your network to discover opportunities for projects you can work on. Is a former classmate starting a new website? Offer your services to help create content. Other contacts may need help with planning their own businesses or have a need that only your expertise can fill.
• Tutoring. Your expertise can be a lifesaver to another student who is struggling in B-school or even with high school or college courses. Offer your knowledge as a tutor, which also keeps your skills fresh.
These are just some of the side hustles that can bring in some cash for your new company — and most help you expand your skill set and market your services at the same time.
The most important thing to remember about anything you do to earn money on the side is to treat it as a temporary gig, and have an exit strategy. While it’s tempting to continue earning money once your business takes off, you can become too comfortable and reliant on your side gig and end up not putting your full attention on your business. Once you get started and the money starts coming in, be prepared to let go of the side gig, and focus your energy on your successful business.
Bob Adams is a serial entrepreneur and the founder of BusinessTown.com.