Washington D.C Psychologist and career counselor describes strategies for starting a side business.


Dear Dr. Friedman:

I am a high school teacher. I love my job; but, the pay is awful. Do I really need to consider alternative professions? Or, is there a way that I can, “have my cake and eat it too”?

Dear Teacher:

You raise an important issue. Many people think that they have to give up a job that they love because it doesn’t pay well. This isn’t necessarily the case. My answer here applies to anyone doing a less than lucrative job that they love–not just teachers. You should consider a few things before leaving your job: investments, a side business and additional work within the school context. I know that the first may sound bizarre. Perhaps it is difficult to meet expenses, let alone to save. However, experts say that you should save at least ten percent of your salary. Also, it is important that you invest it properly. Investment strategies are beyond the scope of my expertise, but there are a number of self-help books which may serve as starting points.

Starting a side business

Now for your side business. You did not mention your interests or the subject that you teach. Certainly, however, you have teaching skills. You may want to consider teaching at the college level as a way of gaining visibility and income. Perhaps you could teach within your discipline or within a School of Education. Alternatively, you can make use of discipline-related skills. For example, if you teach English, you may want to start an editing business or a writing business. Another option might be to start a study skills or tutoring business.

A music teacher I know started giving music lessons. When the number of pupils exceeded the number that he could teach, he hired other music teachers to work for him. Finally, the last option, you may want to approach your school with a proposal that is mutually beneficial. For example, you may want to propose that you develop a program or teach a course at a time when the school is not in use. Such a course should be designed in a way that it brings positive visibility to you and to the school.

I hope that this provides a starting point for you. I’d be very interested in learning about the outcome of these suggestions, from you, or any readers who find themselves a similar predicament.Good luck.

Dr. Friedman

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