Building a Property Business Alongside a Full-Time Job
If you are a full-time employee planning to start your own property business – whether as a property developer, investor, manager, agent or otherwise – the process has the potential to be stressful, tiring and even legally problematic.
However, with careful planning and via a cautious and considered approach, the tasks involved can prove quite straightforward.
In this article, we explore the process of building a property business alongside full-time employment, discussing the potential risks and pitfalls and laying out the most sensible path to take.
Clear Your Schedule Before Laying the Foundations
In the early days of running a business, one of the most hectic and busy stages is also the period when you should perhaps take greatest care. This is the time at which you’ll be drawing up a business plan, calculating financial forecasts and generally preparing for launch.
These tasks require a great deal of precision and concentration, and can take up a lot of your time and energy – particularly if you’re starting up a business alone as a sole trader.
As the jobs begin to pile up, you might consider arranging to take a period of annual leave, holiday or Time Off In Lieu from your main employment.
Make sure you time it right – there may be tasks on the horizon that are even more involved, and running out of holiday allowance at that point could throw a large spanner in the works.
Start Small with Your Property Business
If you plan to continue with your full-time job for sometime (which is a sensible approach), you need to be realistic about the amount of work your new venture will be able to take on straight away.
This isn’t just about your own wellbeing – although that in itself is vitally important. The fact is that if you have a high level of uptake from clients or users, there may not be enough time in the day to handle everything.
What’s more, trying to squeeze in every task by way of a punishing schedule can lead to stress, loss of sleep and panic, which – no matter how resilient you may be – will inevitably increase the likelihood of mistakes and foul-ups.
Begin with the very basics, and put the framework in place for future upscaling when the time is right. This gives you and your future clients something to look forward to. It also means you’ll be risking less all at once.
Perhaps, for example, you can plan well in advance to free up the time for viewings and to be present at online / offline property auctions.
Stay Accessible for Your Property Business
As we’ll explore later, using company time and resources to respond to calls and emails from your “side gig” is never a good idea. However, if potential clients can’t access you, they’ll go to a competitor instead.
To reduce the risk of this happening, try to put features in place that will allow you to communicate as and when you have the time available.
Set up automated responses for your email account, informing those who contact you that you will respond to their query within a specified amount of time in order to manage expectations.
Record a voicemail greeting too, encouraging callers to leave a message – again, specifying a timescale for your response.
This approach will assure customers that their communications have reached the correct place, and will dissuade them from chasing you.
The timescales you state should be manageable within your personal schedule. If you set yourself targets that are very difficult to hit, you’ll be more likely to let people down or become stressed and overworked.
Keep Clear Accounts
It’s easy for the proper management of your financial records and documentation to fall by the wayside if you’re working two jobs simultaneously, but it’s important that you do not let this happen.
Accounts can be very difficult to straighten out in hindsight – and you could fail to discover major monetary issues or oversights until it’s too late. The same goes for legal arrangements such as tax and insurance.
If you’re a landlord, stick to a clear schedule for rent payments, appliance testing and all other related matters such as buildings, contents and income protection insurance.
If you’re a property developer, make sure you have all the right insurance for any construction work and make sure invoices are organized at the right time.
As a property investor, it may go without saying that you should keep careful track of your investments – but even this can be a challenge when you are pushed for time!
Consider hiring an accountant or other specialist to assist you with this side of things if it’s likely to get too much.
Understand Your Contract and Legal Obligations
It doesn’t matter if your main job is in the property field or not – it may be that anything you develop or design during your working hours automatically becomes the property of your employer.
Investigate the intellectual property clauses of your professional contract to decipher your individual position regarding this matter.
Furthermore, if you use any resources that belong to your employer for the purpose of running your own business – such as responding to emails from a work computer – you could be in breach of contract.
You should even be careful who you speak to about your company at any length while at your main job, as some employers may consider this a promotional activity, and one you should not be undertaking while on their premises.
Above all, do not record contact details or other data belonging to clients from your full-time work for use in your “side gig”.
This is likely to constitute a major breach of data protection, as those individuals will not have given their consent for an additional business to use their information.
Read up on the Data Protection Act 2018 for more about what you can and can’t do with the data of your own clients and those of other businesses.
Avoid Burnout with Your Property Business
Schedule your activities with care. It can be tempting to spend every second of your spare time on your new business, but you are its greatest asset – and if you do not look after yourself, it is likely to fail.
Stick to your contracted hours where possible while working for your employer and make sure you give yourself sufficient time to undertake all activities relating to your own company without rushing, but don’t forget to program in some downtime and a little self-care too.
Make the Transition at the Right Time
Even if your company appears to hit the ground running, this may not always be the case in the future. It’s a sobering fact that 20% of businesses fail in their first year – and 60% in their first three years.
For this reason, you should wait until your new venture is properly established before you make the leap to quit your “day job” and start working for your own company full time.
Even then, it may be best to make a gradual transition. If at all possible, ask your employer whether you might be permitted to go down to part-time hours so you can have something of a cushion as you prepare to go entirely self-employed.
By following the advice above, you’re likely to find that building your property business alongside full-time work is easier than you anticipated. Careful time management, a keen eye on the legal side, and sufficient levels of self-care are vital for your success.
We wish you the best of luck in your venture.