If you dream of starting your own business while you still have a day job you are following a popular route taken by many entrepreneurs.
Starting your own business is challenging, but even more so while you are holding a full-time job. The demands on your time and energy can be tremendous as you manage multiple tasks with conflicting and competing commitments to work and family. And yet this is a smart way to start.
If your company doesn’t have a restriction on business ownership in your employment agreement and your immediate family supports your business endeavor, explore these seven smart reasons to start your business before you quit your day job.
1. Earning a steady paycheck
It is comforting to be able to pay your bills and enjoy other benefits while you begin your new endeavor. By not putting your basic needs and healthcare at risk you’ll be more encouraged to try new ideas and abandon ones that aren’t working. In addition, your steady paycheck can help you with early startup costs and give you time to make important decisions about the direction of your business.
2. Testing the waters
It’s one thing to enjoy your hobby when there is no pressure to earn money from it. Turning it into a profitable business, however, requires taking on roles you may not have considered before.
You may discover that you enjoy flower arranging for your own parties, for example, but may dislike facing pleasing picky clients, managing a team of equally creative and competitive folks, dealing with offensive vendors, and learning how to price for profit. What better way to find out that you wouldn’t enjoy all the aspects of this business than before you’ve poured loads of money and time into it?
This is also a great time to experiment with new ways of doing your business, when correcting course or jumping ship will be easier and less costly.
3. Honing your skills
As you discover the skills required for your new business, you can begin to build and sharpen them slowly. This may require taking classes or studying with a mentor, but your progress can increase steadily, getting you better able to handle your business.
Strengthen weak skills by taking on responsibilities at your job that you may not have considered before. In the past you may have run from any hint at taking on additional duties. But now it could be excellent training to assist with accounting, strategic planning, inventory, negotiations or other skills that are outside your normal job duties.
Don’t be afraid to propose new ideas and projects to your boss or department, even if these ideas don’t win acceptance and implementation. These may be concepts you can use later in your own business.
4. Enjoying freedom of choice
When you are working on your own business on the side, you can be selective about which work projects you accept on your job if that’s an option. You may even choose to decline overtime or accept overtime, whichever suits your purpose.
In your business you can be selective too. With your job as a foundation, you don’t have to work with annoying clients or underprice your services.
5. Seeing opportunities
When a company offers free training or a chance to attend conferences, some employees grumble at what they see as more work or a waste of time.
As a budding business owner, however, it is tremendously beneficial to be trained on new software, attend conferences or get access to products and services at a discount, all at your company’s expense.
When I was teaching college classes in the 2000’s my campus was eager to get in on the online education boon. Teachers across the campus were offered grants to learn how to teach online classes. We were paid to take the training and were expected to set up an online class in our departments at the end of the program. No one else in my department was interested, but I jumped at the chance. I love learning something new to stave off the boredom of the same routine, but also I knew those new skills might be useful in my own business one day and later in retirement.
6. Earning extra income
When your side business begins to produce profits, you have an additional stream of income. If you’re able to use this new money to pay down debt and begin to save, you’ll be preparing for the day when you step into being a full-time entrepreneur.
Owning your own business is a risk. No amount of preparation will guarantee success, but adequate startup capital will help you withstand setbacks, losses, and slumps.
7. Embracing your worth and power
When you are enjoying the variety of activities and challenges of building your side business, you are less likely to get as stressed on your job as perhaps you once did. You will strengthen your confidence and recognize your personal power as you take action to make your business materialize.
I’ve used the terms business owner and entrepreneur interchangeably since both own businesses. Their leadership styles may be different, but both have to transition from thinking like an employee to thinking like an employer.
In her audiobook, Think Like an Entrepreneur: Transforming Your Career and Taking Charge of Your Life, Deborah A. Bailey shares tips that help us shift our thinking to enhance our careers and make powerful choices in our lives.
Once you begin to think like a boss, not an employee, you will have a different perspective on your tasks, work events, and relationships with your coworkers. You will become come more confident in your ability to handle challenges and adversity.
Best of all, what if you are terminated from your day job when layoffs roll around to your department? You won’t have to sink into despair like many employees who face this news. With your business, you have a backup income and time to devote full attention to making it successful.
Words of Wisdom
1. You don’t need permission to start your side business as long as your company doesn’t have a restriction against it in your employment agreement.
2. Most companies won’t be supportive, so be discreet. Your boss is more likely to think of you as having an affair with another business.
3. Since you will likely have a social media presence for your business, you won’t be able to keep your business a complete secret either. You can minimize attention by not talking about your business at work and giving full energy to your tasks and projects.
At the same time, it may be less threatening to your boss if you tell her ahead of time if you’re going to be highly visible at an event regarding your business. That’s better than having a jealous coworker “report” you later.
4. While your boss and even coworkers can accept when you have hobbies, they may become nervous to learn that you have a side business. Your boss will be suspicious that you’re giving less than your full time and attention to your work and are pilfering supplies. Even worse, if your side business works with the same target market, your boss will be afraid you’re stealing clients. This is a serious offense if you signed a non-compete agreement.
5. Jealous coworkers who resent that you’re ambitious and earning extra income can undermine and sabotage your day job duties.
6. Cherish the genuine friendships you made on your job and stay in touch when you leave so you don’t experience the regret Jeff Haden shares in his article The Worst Mistake You Can Make When You Quit a Job.
7. Know when to leave your job, but think carefully about how you do it. Unless you’re escaping a horrific situation, submit the required notice rather than leaving abruptly. You may well want to work with this company later in another capacity.
Have you seen those “quit job” videos? They may be fun to create. They are certainly entertaining to watch, but could they come back to bite you. In the following video, the employee is leaving to start a business like the one he’s leaving. His bosses’ expressions make me think this is the first they’ve heard that he’s leaving. What do you think?
8. After running your side business you may discover that you enjoy being an employee more than being an employer.
I enjoyed operating a tutorial business for 6 years. I grew weary of jumping through the hoops set out by the gas company, insurance company, fire department, workers compensation, and other regulatory agencies that come with owning commercial property. I enjoyed many good times with my clients and staff.
Eventually I decided to let someone else take care of the overhead, regulatory guidelines, and marketing. Since I love teaching, researching, and writing I closed my tutoring business and returned to full-time teaching.
Barbara Sher, author of motivational coach, talks about the importance of doing what you’re gifted at, which may not be how you earn your living.
When I retired from teaching I returned to being an entrepreneur where I do what I’m gifted at: teaching, researching, writing, and coaching aspiring writers. When I can also make money from my gift, it’s a wonderful plus.
Starting your business while you still have a day job is more than moonlighting. You are not just supplementing your income You are setting the stage to transition from being an employee to being the boss. It is not for everyone, of course. It is demanding and requires a delicate balance of time, money, and energy. You can always return to being an employee as I did, if you find that suits you better.
These seven reasons for starting your business while you still have a day job have worked well for many successful entrepreneurs and business owners. Perhaps they will work for you too.
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