For many people, quitting their jobs to start a business is not a viable option. With bills to pay and families to support, many have no option but to juggle a day job while trying to build their business – a balancing act that comes with stress and potential conflicts of interest. It is no mean feat, but it can be done.
And just so you know: Some of the most successful businesses actually began as side projects, nurtured by its founders during evenings and weekends while working full-time. Hugh Robertson co-founded the marketing agency RPM while working at sales promotion agency ZGC. Wendy Tan White founded web development company Moonfruit while working at Internet bank Egg. Christian Lanng started up Tradeshift while working for the Danish government. You can do the same. Here are 5 ways you can make it work for yourself.
Start Your Business with a Full-Time Job
1. Create a Schedule
The most valuable investment you need to give your startup is time – something you don’t have an abundance of, given you have a 9 to 5 job. However, by creating a schedule you can work around with, you can always make time.
It’s important that you establish a clear and realistic schedule, making sure time spent is working towards achievable goals. This helps you maintain focus.
Identify specific times during the day when you can do little tasks for your business – answering e-mails after dinner at home for an hour, or talking to a supplier during lunch break. Make the most of every minute. Use lunch hours or early morning to make phone calls. Use your commute time to the office to catch up on paperwork. Then allot bigger chunks of time handling more intensive operations – marketing, product development, production, etc. This may fall on weekends and holidays. You will be sacrificing personal time – be prepared to do that. You won’t have much time for TV, reading or hobbies you used to enjoy.
Once you’ve created your schedule, make sure you stick to it. You have already sacrificed your precious time so make sure to spend it wisely. The more disciplined you can be, the better.
2. Break down Goals
Once you have created the time to dedicate yourself to taking care of your business, it will help if you have SMART goals that go with your set schedule. SMART goals are smart, measurable, attainable, realistic and time-sensitive).
Since you are not going to have the pleasure of having most of your time to tend to your business, it would help if you break down your goals into chunks so it can help you think clearer and you can measure if you are working towards the bigger goals. Set goals daily, weekly, and monthly.
Daily goals are your to-do list items. Before working, make a list of the things you want to accomplish during your schedule. It is best to physically write these down so you can then cross them off as you finish – it helps you visualize what you have accomplished and what you still need to do. Weekly goals are things that won’t necessarily be able to be completed in one evening. Monthly goals are your bigger goals and you’ll probably want to set these for one month, three months, six months and a year. Write them down for accountability.
3. Get Help
Don’t hesitate to seek help. It can be with your family, asking them to help out – it will also keep them involved even with just answering calls, taking messages, running errands to the bank, etc.
Remember when we said that you needed to create time? Well, if there is no way to make time for your business, especially if it’s growing rapidly than you think, then buy time. Hire help – a fresh graduate that will act as your assistant will be a tremendous asset as you can focus on your core business and have him handle the administrative, day to day operations (especially when you are at your “real” work).
Thanks to the Internet, you can now have a virtual office – employees who work for you with you spending for overhead operational expenses. This will keep your expenses down. Nathan Chan, 27, was committed to his full-time job at a travel agency but wanted to start his own business. In 2013 he started FoundrMag, a digital magazine that has skyrocketed to the ‘Top 10 business and investing magazines’ rank in 23 countries, and has featured Richard Branson, Neil Patel, and Dave Asprey. He accomplished this by getting help. He went on Elance to hire freelance graphic designers, audio/video editors and writers from the US, India, and Hungary to work on the magazine while he slept. It now sits alongside Entrepreneur magazine in the Apple Newsstand – a publication established more than 35 years ago.
4. Keep It Separate
Perhaps the most important rule of running your business while working full-time is to make sure it doesn’t interfere or overlap with each other. When you are at your job, focus on your work. Don’t let thoughts of your business distract you. You owe your boss (and your job) your full attention. You still get paid for it. Don’t let it slide.
It goes without saying you shouldn’t run your business from your employer’s office – don’t use your company’s resources, equipment and even time you log for them to run your business on the side. This is unethical and when your boss finds out, you might even get fired (and lose a good recommendation and network).
5. Be Honest
There comes a time when you need to be honest with yourself and your employer whether you truly can handle balancing your job and business at the same time. It comes with a risk but letting your employer know about your situation can open up better opportunities for you. He might agree to a part-time job, give you a leave of absence with the security that you can return within a set timeframe just in case your business doesn’t work out. As long as it doesn’t interfere with your job, many bosses won’t mind.
Don’t burn bridges. If you decide to leave, leave with grace and gratitude.
The hard act of juggling two jobs at the same time is hard but doable. Keep these tips in mind and you will be breezing through work and managing a successful startup in no time.