Most people do not set out as entrepreneurs. They go the entrepreneur way once they gain a certain level of work experience or after going through formal employment.
Employed people revert to entrepreneurship because of several reasons. One, it could be because they may have had a bad experience with a boss and can’t stomach working under one again. They, therefore, set out to be their own boss.
Two, they may have gained some critical skills which will allow them to be leaders in their own right.
Three, it could be that they developed a great idea in their normal course of work.
Starting a business while you are working full time is just as common as the journey of sole entrepreneurship minus full commitment into the business.
Pros and Cons of Starting a Business While Working Full-time
One, the most important benefit is the security factor. Exiting your full-time job so as to start your own enterprise can be very risky. You risk abandoning your post, putting your own capital into the business, and potentially operating on zero income for the future.
In case the business fails to develop any meaningful traction, you’ll not only be low on cash, but you’ll also be without a job.
As such, sticking to your job while you found your enterprise is a way of keeping your chips, giving you the guarantee of an income as you attempt to develop your side business.
Two, remaining in employment gives you the advantage of leveraging company resources to benefit your new enterprise. This doesn’t mean that you get to use tangible goods or office supplies for your benefit. It means you can talk to your bosses, colleagues, or co-workers to get advice or get them to partner with you to develop some areas of your business.
The most common setback is time. When in a full-time job, you won’t have the time to pursue your enterprise fully. The time you spend developing it will be relegated to weeknights and weekends. These are normally quite hard times to carry out business.
It also means that it might take you long to get your business running smoothly. You also won’t be in a position to give your all as long as you are employed.
Secondly, you’ll most likely consider your startup to be just a hobby than a living. This means that you’ll be less motivated to grow it to fruition. Rather than benefiting from the motivation of sole entrepreneurship, the safety net you have established will prevent you from fully mentally investing in your business.
Thirdly, juggling between the two may have a negative effect on your performance at the full-time job. If you have to stay up all night to complete your work, you might not be able to give full attention to your day job.
Your bosses might notice this and you could end up losing your job and safety net altogether.
How to Start a Business While Working Full-Time
If you intend to start a business while working a full-time job, you need to devise a plan. Here are some steps to starting a business while keeping your full-time job.
1. Determine how bad you want it
Things are going to get difficult. This endeavor will put a strain on your relationships, and force you to constantly make tough decisions.
For this reason, jot down a list of commitments and activities in your life with the amount of time you dedicate to each in a week. Note down the ones you can become less involved in, and notify them that you’ll be stepping back so as to focus on your new project.
Identify the easy stuff initially: the time you spend watching TV, scrolling Facebook or Instagram, or playing video games. The more time you are able to free up, the faster you’ll be able to register results.
2. Take stock of your skills, abilities, and shortcomings
Take some time to identify your strengths as an entrepreneur, and get into businesses that will enable you to hinge on these strengths.
Which skill sets will the new business idea leverage? You probably possess at least a few of the necessary skills required to make the business a success. If you don’t, you might be up for a tough time.
You can spend some time learning new skills or you can outsource the work to someone else to help you out.
3. Authenticate your business idea
The number one cause of business failure is a lack of market need for a product.
This goes to show how important it is to fully authenticate your idea. Get unbiased feedback from future customers before you commence building, creating, or spending money.
Don’t get caught up in your pride thinking that you’re right and that your startup idea is amazing. Your business concept or product idea may not be fully thought out, or properly researched.
4. Identify your competitive advantage
A competitive advantage is a unique advantage that enables your enterprise to produce greater sales or margins, and/or gets and retain more clients than competitors.
It is what makes the enterprise, your enterprise. Competitive advantage may be in the form of cost structure, distribution network, product offering, customer support, or something else in the business.
5. Set goals
Unless you set attainable goals and sensible deadlines for yourself, you’ll spend most of your time spinning your wheels.
It’s impossible to get anywhere unless you know your exact destination.
For this reason, start out by setting daily, weekly, and monthly goals for yourself. This will help you to align yourself with your short-term and long-term objectives.
In the early stages, the daily goals are your small wins or the to-do list type of items. Afterward, you begin hitting milestones as you near launching your business.
6. Map out your plan
Setting goals is just half the job. You need to plot out how you intend to move from point A to point B, C, D, and so on.
Once you identify a profitable business idea, you need to be aggressive with this step. Others might not be in a position to plot out your milestones for you, but you can still involve them in the process.
This step is important because your ability to solve problems and find your way around obstacles will decide the level of success in your business.
7. Outsource where you can
Focus is the key to your business’s success.
Always be on the look for opportunities where you can outsource almost all parts of your business creation. This is exclusive of planning your enterprise’s goals roadmap, or determining what your service or product will look like.
The point of outsourcing is that you want to be left doing what you normally do best. For instance, you might want to develop your own website, but if you don’t have development skills, you’ll have to spend a few months learning so as to get to a point where you can understand the basics.
8. Constantly seek feedback
The goal of your enterprise should be to come up with a product or service that gives value to people. You’ll be at a disadvantage if you come up with a product that no one wants.
As such, it’s crucial that you get unbiased, external feedback to ensure that you are making something that’s actually desirable. Do this from the word go and never cease.
To come up with your early feedback group, reach out to people you know will speak out their minds honestly. This could be your entrepreneurial friends or mentors. From there, you can cast your net wider and begin leveraging LinkedIn Groups, Facebook, Reddit, or even your local Starbucks.
9. Separate your projects from your work
Don’t work on your enterprise while on company time. You also need to stop using company resources for your personal projects, regardless of how tempting it might be. This includes not using the work computer, online tools, notebooks, software subscriptions or getting assistance from other employees.
Furthermore, don’t engage your fellow employees about your part-time business. This may be translated as promoting your business while on company time. This may come to bite you when you rub a co-worker the wrong way. They could raise this issue and it could open a whole Pandora’s box.
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What to Do and Not To Do Your Workplace
 Understand your employment contract and follow it
This is very crucial when the contract touches on intellectual property and inventions that you come up with as part of your job description.
The rule of thumb is that in almost all cases, anything you develop on company time while using company property is the company’s. Even if you don’t have an employment contract, it doesn’t mean that you are in the clear.
Take a look at the Employee Manual for any references it has on IP and ownership of inventions.
If there’s no manual, you can consult with your Human Resources manager or anyone who serves in that role to shed light on the policy.
 Be open with your employer as much as possible
If your enterprise is not competing with theirs, try as early as possible to persuade them to be a customer, client, or collaboration partner.
You might even be fortunate enough to have your employer bankroll your startup, or enable you to have equity in a joint venture.
However, if you think it’s safe to go the way of having your employer as an investor, partner, customer, ensure that you consult with an attorney so as to get legal advice on how you should go on carefully.
 Save your side income
When your startup starts bringing in income, set aside some cash reserves. These will keep you going once you make the decision to exit your full-time job.
Furthermore, be sure to set up spending and budgetary guidelines that are clear for the side business to ensure that you’re not burning reserves beyond your means.
When you save or you invest all of your profits into your side business, it helps you to fashion a safety net in the event that you face lean times in the days to come when you are no longer employed.
 Don’t use a corporate email
Using the property of the company to further your business goals may present a legal hurdle later on. This means that when you get into your webmail account to check your emails, you may have problems.
The management retains the right to read all the keystrokes you’ve entered, even in the event where the emails weren’t entered in the company’s email system.
 Don’t be pressured into leaving
New businesses are prone to life cycles too. Some wins early on don’t necessarily mean that you have established a sustainable enterprise.
To be on the safe side, you should start off with validating your business model using real, paying customers. Then you should go through a period of a number of months registering steady growth in your clientele base.
Before you consider quitting your day job, your side income needs to go beyond the necessary expenses.
 Don’t be scared of getting into full-time entrepreneurship when ready
Running a part-time business can only be partly successful. Unless you plan on being a passive investor, know that this business will only scale to a certain point. There’s a need for your full-time commitment.
Once you ascertain that there’s a clear demand for your solution, plus you have a steady level of income that is coming from your increasing customer base, then it would be safe for you to consider heading into self-employment.
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Starting a business while working a full-time job may prove to be challenging, but it is doable. There are numerous paths to entrepreneurship and one of them is first through formal employment. As such, don’t feel less of an entrepreneur. If you dream of getting into full-time self-employment, then these steps will have you on your way to becoming your own boss.
Bijay is an entrepreneur and start-up founder having more than 14 years of IT industry experience. He is the co-founder of TSInfo Technologies, a SharePoint development company.
A dedicated professional and very passionate about public speaking and also wrote thousands of technical blogs in various technologies. He also wrote a lots of blogs on entrepreneurship, investment, startup, business, manage money tips, etc.