Starting and growing a small business is no small feat.
Want to make launching even harder? Keep your 9-5 day job!
You have to develop an offering, find your market, acquire customers, and develop internal systems to make everything run smoothly. When 40 hours of your time is already spoken for each week, it can pose unique challenges to startup life.
We know it’s scary, risky, and sometimes just not feasible to quit your full-time job and dive headlong into entrepreneurship. That’s why we chatted with small business owners who juggled launching a new business while working full-time.
Here’s what they told us.
Delegate Administrative Tasks
The reality is that you can't do everything on your own while juggling a full-time career. Focus on what you’re really good at in your side business, and then delegate the other stuff. For example, I delegate some of my writing to freelance writers and some of the non-core administration work to a virtual assistant while I focus on growing the business and developing products. – Glenn Carter, The Casual Capitalist
When you’re working full-time and trying to build a new business, time is your most valuable resource. The trick to optimizing it? Be picky about what you invest it in. Your business needs its founder to plot a course – to decide how to grow the business, and then do it. That means mundane, administrative tasks can fall the someone else.
Tamar Huggins suggests hiring a virtual assistant to handle emails and provide other types of administrative support while you’re working full-time.
Another big time-saver? All the amazing automation tools we have access to these days. Jen McFarland of Foster Growth recommends spending time up-front to craft a process for automating tasks and a workable stack of tools:
Since I work in the technology space, I integrated several apps into my workflow to automate mundane data entry using free apps like Zapier and IFTTT for things like transferring customer leads into my proposal software. By spending a little more time on process, you can save hours that you can spend focusing on the fun and exciting parts of your business.
Schedule Time to Work on the New Business
For most of us, the first thing we want to do after a long day at the office is plop down in front of the TV – and turning around and putting in more hours on a side business is probably about the last. If you’re launching a business, you should be passionate about it. Your side venture should fill you with all the fire of a giant volcano. But after 9 hours in the office and another commuting home? No one can blame you for being a little burnt out.
To ensure you make time for your new business and to keep yourself honest, Adam Force of Change Creator suggests getting into a routine:
Based on my experience the best advice I can share is to schedule your success. This means planning a routine. You should have a vision and business plan which tells you what actions you need to take. Based on that, I highly recommend you schedule your mornings and weekends with a routine that becomes turnkey for consistently working towards your vision.
Cynthia Brown of Only Top Reviews agreed, advising, "If you want to start a successful side-business I suggest you give it a priority. Block out times in your calendar when you solely focus on your business and make it a non-negotiable."
Have a Plan for Leaving Your Day Job
You’re toiling away every day – up before the sun – 9 hours at the office following 2 ungodly hours working on your business. A routine can keep you honest, but what about inspired?
Several entrepreneurs we chatted with recommended establishing a plan for when you’ll leave your day job – a veritable light at the end of the tunnel.
Build a road map to quit your job - it is really important to be able to know in advance about when you will take the leap. [...] How much product should I complete? How many sales or letter of intents should I get? When will I launch full-time? My metrics were to complete a product MVP, build a kick ass team, and make our first three B2B sales. As soon I reached these, I bid my old company good-bye and took the leap. – Gaurav Bhattacharya, Involve
Many of those we talked to also advised being patient and staying in your day job as long as you can – and plan on investing that time from the get-go. Maintaining full-time employment allows you to work on your new business without laying it all on the line. It offers you time to build and grow the business sustainably... without sacrificing putting food on the table.
Ron Stefanski of Jobs For Teens HQ suggests:
Be patient. There is absolutely nothing easy about starting a new business. It's likely going to take 6 to 12 months of working on your new business before you'll see any real results. Anticipate this before getting started and don't expect to knock it out of the park in the first month. If your business idea is good and you're patient, you can succeed.
Reinvest Your Profits
When a fledgling business is your sole source of income, you’re forced to drain valuable capital out of the business – so you can get by while it grows. Keeping your 9-5 relieves some of that burden, meaning you can reinvest profits back into your business and leverage them into even more growth.
Chris Bryant of Empire Studios said, "I used the money from my day job to pay my bills, and used 100% of what I made with the side business to reinvest in it. This allowed me to quickly build up the gear I needed, get a website and establish myself."
Juggling a new business and full-time employment is stressful – you’re working a ton and your dream is on the line. If finances are one less thing to worry about, you can free up more mental bandwidth to focus on bringing your dream to life.
Make Self-Care a Priority
We have this ideal of the die-hard entrepreneur – toiling away at all hours of the morning and night, investing every ounce of blood, sweat, and tears into their passion project. Where did that come from?
The reality is, you can only give to your business as much as you have, and burnout isn’t as sexy as it sounds. That means it’s vital to prioritize self-care. Make a point to replenish your spirit and your sleep tank, so you can keep giving your all to the business.
It's easy to get burnt out when you’re working so much, so you have to make self-care a priority. Make sure to include time in each day where you can just relax and decompress, otherwise you'll become jaded very quickly and might not be as motivated to continue working on your own company. – Ashley Jacobs, Sitting For a Cause
Work, Work, Work
There’s no denying that launching a new business without leaving your full-time job is a grind. You’ll have to work more hours and invest more brainpower than you can possibly imagine going into it. But we’re talking about your passion here.
Follow these tips from seasoned side-preneurs and you’ll be well on your way to building the business of your dreams.