Starting a Small Business? Should You Keep Your Day Job?
To work or not to work during ‘s a tough question for many entrepreneurs. There are two primary pulls either way — a full-time startup gets your full attention and shortens the time to making money, but working during startup keeps the bills paid and provides a back-up plan for the risk of going out on your own. The best option for you depends on a number of factors, and with either method it is essential that you manage your time and money effectively.
The type of business you are planning to start is the first consideration in whether to launch full-time or part-time. There are some ventures that require you to be available during the standard workweek — 9 to 5, Monday through Friday. If your current job includes these hours, it may be impossible to get your business off the ground. The best option in those cases is to develop a complete plan for your business while still employed, including a full marketing plan, budget, and beginning to network. The more developed your business idea, the more clear it will be when the best time to commit full-time will be.
The amount of capital you have for your startup is another critical factor. If you haven’t developed a full startup budget yet, do so before you quit your day job. Startup costs are easy to underestimate, especially without working through the details of the business idea. In addition to the actual startup costs, you will need enough cash to keep your personal bills covered. Often, entrepreneurs discover the hard way that the few thousand they thought would be sufficient disappears rapidly once work starts on the they end up going back to work anyway. Set a realistic budget based on a realistic time frame for getting the venture off the ground before you commit to full-time entrepreneur status.
If You Decide to Start Part Time
If you do decide to keep a job while working on your business, your first priority is to get organized. You will have to master time and task management in order to make reasonable progress on your business idea. The odds are that your work hours aren’t the only time consumers on your schedule, so it is critical to establish dedicated blocks of time to focus on your startup. Eliminate as many time killers as possible and consider getting up a few hours earlier or staying up a few hours later to get the venture going.
Do not even consider using your time on another job to work on your startup. In the first place, it is disrespectful and probably a terminable offense. You won’t want your employees working on outside interests on your time, so you shouldn’t either. In the second place, most professional jobs include provisions within the employment contract that deem all of your work product as owned by the company. Thus, if you create a new or innovative product or service using company assets (even your work computer), they may well have a legitimate lawsuit regarding the rights to your ideas.
If You Decide to Start Full Time
If you decide to quit your job and go after your startup full-time, you still need to take control of your time. Especially if you are working from home, it is very easy to be distracted from the business by daily chores, projects that have been awaiting your attention, even the television. Set yourself a clear work schedule and organize your time as you would if you were working for someone else. Your startup will have to be your priority if you are going to succeed, so expect to commit more hours to the venture than any other job. In fact, the average business owner works 65 or more hours per week, and that’s after the startup period!