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5 Tips on Starting a Business While Working Full-Time
Starting your own business can be challenging enough when it's the only thing on your plate. However, if you also have a full-time job, the stress of launching a company can be significantly greater.
When you're working for someone else and trying to become your own boss at the same time, you need to learn how to prioritize. You have to focus on tasks that matter the most for both your job and your business. You won't have time to split your focus in too many directions.
As an aspiring entrepreneur, you might feel overwhelmed by too much work and be tempted to leave your job. However, you should keep in mind that your full-time job will provide a steady income for your new endeavor.
Even though it takes a lot of organization and perseverance, being a successful entrepreneur and a good employee at the same time is not impossible.
The following five tips will help you create your own business while you are still employed full-time.
1. Map Your Strategy
You can't get off the ground if you don't know where you're going.
The most important part of starting your business is establishing a clear vision for your new enterprise. Take some time to map out your business strategy: where you want to go, what you hope to accomplish, and how you plan to achieve your goals. Create a detailed business plan with actionable steps. A good business plan includes, among other features:
- The basic concept of your business
- A specific strategy and steps for getting it done
- Details about your target market
- The products or services you are going to offer, and how they differ from your competitors
- Your financial needs
Focus on setting monthly and yearly goals with realistic deadlines for completing them. Map out detailed strategies for carrying out your plans and do your best to keep to your schedule.
Before you launch the company, get feedback from your peers and potential customers about your ideas. Listening to honest advice before you even start will save you time, money and frustration in the long run. Dedicate enough time at the end of your work day to focus on creating a strong vision for your company.
See our page on Strategic Thinking for more information.
2. Find the Right Balance
If you try to do too much at once, your work performance could suffer.
Finding the ideal balance between your 9-to-5 and your new project is critical to succeeding at both and you may find our page on maintaining a healthy work / life balance helpful. Avoid the temptation to work on your personal projects at work, and refrain from using office supplies, equipment or other job-based resources to get your own business going.
Consider the type of business that you're starting, and make sure that it doesn't conflict with your current occupation. For instance, you may be restricted from taking your clients with you when you leave. Look into any non-compete agreements, assignment of invention clauses or non-disclosure agreements that you may have signed when you were hired. It is best to discuss the legal ramifications of these documents with an attorney.
3. Start Networking
Successful entrepreneurs invest in networking opportunities whenever and wherever possible. Here are some tips for making connections even if you've got a full schedule:
- Start with your current employer as long as the company doesn't conflict with your future business. Your boss can be a great resource for meeting the right people.
- Word-of-mouth is still one of the best ways to promote your business, so let family and friends know about your company.
- Join your local chamber of commerce, which offers networking opportunities and small business support to entrepreneurs.
- Find professional organizations, both local and national, and attend events.
- Use social media to your advantage. Create websites and social networking pages to generate interest in your project.
It can be tough to make time for this when you're working full time and creating a business from scratch, but good networking is essential. The more people you interact with, the greater chance your business has of succeeding.
See: Overcoming a Fear of Networking and The Secrets of Effective Networking for more ideas of how to build your network.
4. Make Time for Family
Instead of leaping straight into your business projects after work, take some time to enjoy yourself and your loved ones.
Do whatever relaxes you, whether it's a walk through the park with your dog or making a home-cooked meal with your spouse. A happy home life is just as important to the success of your company as everything else you're doing.
Make sure that you don’t neglect your family’s needs because of your busy schedule. Show them that they are loved and appreciated. If they know that you're taking the time to be with them, then they're more likely to support you when you need your space to work on business projects. Work on improving the quality of family communication so that everyone understands that both your job and your new business are important to you.
5. Know When It’s Time to Take the Leap
At some point, handling a business and working at the same time will become overwhelming and you will have to make the transition from full-time employee to solo entrepreneur.
When exactly that will happen is up to you, but you'll need to consider a few things first:
- Do you have sufficient savings to fall back on if your company doesn't earn a profit for a while?
- Is your family on board with you quitting your job?
- Are you emotionally ready to leave the safety nest of a full-time position for the uncertain future of entrepreneurship?
Once you've done your research, created a business plan and tested the idea out with a few colleagues and friends, you may be ready to say goodbye to your 9-to-5 position. Only you can decide when the time is right – and there are never any guarantees – but quitting your job for good is necessary if you want to succeed at your business long term.
There are advantages to running your own business while holding down a full-time position, the most important of those being that you'll have the startup cash and resources to keep your new company afloat.
Get your business plan together and allocate enough time to work on your new project before or after work. By prioritizing your efforts, you'll be able to create a business with the support of your loved ones.
About the Author
Lisa Michaels is a freelance writer, editor and a striving content marketing consultant from Portland. Being self-employed, she does her best to stay on top of the current trends in the business world. She spends her free time trying out new recipes or reading Scandinavian crime novels. Feel free to connect with her on Twitter @LisaBMichaels.