Many times on this site I?ve advocated the idea of starting a new business as a side venture along with you job. Trying to juggle two business enterprises at once isn?t the easiest task but it provides certain undeniable advantages that can make it worth the effort. For example:
- You?ll have a ?cash flow??the paycheck from your job?something you won?t have if you plunge into the new business full-time
- You?ll have time to make mistakes because you?re job will have you covered when you do
- You won?t have the pressure to generate an immediate living wage since you already have one
- You?ll probably have health insurance through your employer
- You?ll have a built-in safety net in case the business fails or you find out it isn?t for you
All of that is true, but as anyone who?s ever tried it knows, starting and running a business while holding a full-time job isn?t the easiest combination. How do you manage both without jeopardizing either?
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1. Block out time for your business
If your job takes 40 hours per week (or 50+ when you factor in lunch and commuting) you?ll have to set up specific times to work on your business. You might block out 3-4 hours per day, with one or two hours early in the morning before work, two or three in the evening, then more on the weekends. Businesses require time and effort to build so you?ll have to be very disciplined in making the time that will be needed.
2. Maintain a clear separation between your job and your business
When you?re on your job you?ll need to be 100% about your job, but when you?re working on your business you?ll have to be 100% about your business. If you start working on your business while you?re at your job, you may put your job at risk, especially if it becomes a habit. Make sure it doesn?t, at least until you?re at a point where you?re ready to ratchet your business up to full-time.
3. Operate your business under an alias
I gave serious thought to this when I launched my blog in 2009, but since I was doing contract work at the time it wasn?t completely necessary. But here?s the thing, many employers are not so tolerant when their employees step into the business world?it makes them think you?ll give less than 100% to your job and that you may be preparing an exit strategy. A blogging friend was fired when his employer found out about his blog. If you do start a business, consider using an alias, or at least keeping your name off your website and out of your advertising.
4. Save your sick days for when your really sick
By running two ventures at once you?ll be truly ?burning the candle at both ends?, and that can take a toll on your health. Save your sick days so you?ll have them when you really need them, rather than using them to buy extra time to work on your business.
5. Set a time frame for your business
Some people can work 60,70, 80, even 100 hours per week?but most of us can?t, at least not for very long. Set specific timelines for when you expect to reach important milestones so that doing double duty doesn’t seem so permanent. For example, if you want your business to earn enough for you to make it full-time, set a realistic goal as to when that will happen?say two years?that way you have a specific target to reach. There should be shorter term goals along the way so you can see your progress your way to the ultimate goal.
6. Be ready to pull back a bit on the job
This can mean refusing a promotion or out of town travel, or it could mean pulling back on being the office ?go to guy/gal?. At the extreme, you could transfer into a less challenging job. Mostly, you?re going to downgrade your view of your job from a career to simply a job, which can free up your time and mental energy for your business. You only want to do this if you plan on making your business full-time and feel you have a better than even chance of making it happen.
7. Don?t use your employer?s computer (or wi-fi) for your business
Never use your employers computer to conduct your business, even if it?s just to check business emails from time to time. The system is owned by your employer and you have no right to privacy on it. I just heard of an employee who was fired for visiting a job board?he didn?t upload his resume or apply for a job?he just visited the site to check his salary range. The employer felt he was looking for a job. Imagine how your employer would feel knowing you have an entire business in operation?
Any computer activities related to your business should be on your own hardware and through a non-employer internet connection. If you have to, during lunch bring your laptop to a place with free wi-fi (like Starbucks) and handle any mid-day business activities there.
8. Don?t even talk about your business at your job
If you need to conduct your business in secret, don?t blow it with idle conversation at the water cooler. Loose lips sink ships!
9. Don?t talk about your job at your business
It?s best not to reveal that you also work a full-time job. Even though it?s more common then ever, many customers and clients may not be too comfortable doing business with someone who is ?moonlighting?. This is another example of maintaining that separation between your job and your business?it goes both ways.
10. When it?s finally time to leave?don?t burn your bridges
When that blessed day comes that you can finally leave your job to make your business your full-time occupation, be sure to handle your exit gracefully. None of us know what life holds, so it?s best to assume that you may need a reference or even your old job back at some point in the future. Keep your departure friendly and cooperative, and do what you need to to keep the door open.
Ultimately, the ability to balance a new business with a job may come down to the type of business you?re looking to start more than anything else. Some businesses are easier to start and even maintain with a full-time job than others. If you?re looking for a business to blend in with your job, here are four that I?ve recommended on this site–two of which I’m doing myself:
Have you ever tried to balance a new business with a full-time job? What advice would you recommend for someone who wants to try it?