Is it possible to launch and run a successful startup while you work at a full-time job? The answer is usually NO; but it is not that nobody has done that successfully. Being an entrepreneur is a brilliant idea. However, since you start from the very beginning, you may want to keep your current job as well. Then, being an entrepreneur will be part time job. This can be difficult but possible.
In todays interconnected world there are probably lot of other people working in the same idea that you are working on and your path is not to get the product out first it’s to iterate to a better place faster than the competitor that process. This will be extremely difficult when you are part time. Also the investors almost always want to see you working full time on the business so they think you are maximizing their chance to get a return on their investment.
The Orshel started as a part-time venture and here are some pragmatic recommendations on how to make the most progress in your startup, while simultaneously juggling your other critical family and employer roles. In fact, these suggestions have tremendous value, even if you are dedicated and committed full-time.
- Find a co-founder who can keep you balanced
Co-founders, all are working part-time, is actually better than one full-time founder. You both need the complementary skills, ability to debate alternatives and the tendency to keep each other motivated, that neither could match working alone. One still needs to be the agreed final decision-maker.
- Schedule fixed times and days for the startup, working with the team
Building a startup is hard work, and requires discipline to get it done. Working part-time doesn’t mean working randomly alone. Commit to a regular weekend time and a couple of specific nights per week where you meet with the team and focus only on the startup.
- Make Your Nights and Weekends Count
“You can have it all, just not all at once.” This is the perfect quote for the time when you’re pulling double duty in your day job and building your startup. If you have other commitments, like kids or a spouse, it can feel like triple duty.If you’re starting to see traction in your startup, now is the time to make those nights and weekends count. I’m not saying drop everything, but be willing to make some tradeoffs so that you can meet your goals. Your time is your most valuable resource right now, so use it wisely. The reality is that this might be the time to put some things on the back burner. For these next six months, you might not be able to do your hobbies and time pass activities.
- Get better at saying “no” to your friends
Learning to manage your own time is critical. Everyone around you enjoys adding things to your schedule, and reducing their to-do list. The key is learning to say no without offering a long list of excuses, or whining about how busy you are. It’s never possible to satisfy everyone, so be true first to your own priorities.
- Set realistic milestones and take them seriously
It’s easy for part-timers to make excuses that other priorities caused you to miss milestones, but predictable results and metrics in this mode are even more critical than for full-time members. Use the 80/20 rule to maximize productivity — get 80 percent outcome from 20 percent of focused efforts.
- Act Like a Big Company even When You Have No Employees
It’s easy to think that you are a 1 person business (or 2-3 person if you have some cofounders or employees). But the outside world doesn’t know how big you are, only that you have a product/service they are interested in. It is important to project a professional image about your company in terms of your web site, your customer service, your fulfillment, your appointment setting and your follow up.
- Select a business idea that has a longer runway
Some startup ideas are dependent on a rapidly emerging fad, or have many competitors fighting for a limited market. You can’t move fast enough on a part-time basis to win in these areas. On the other hand, if you have a new technology, with a patent applied for, you may have more time to get it right.
- Set flexible targets and goals
You will interface several huge obstacles and difficulties and you do not have full time allowance to fix it. Therefore, make sure that your goals and targets are flexible to your condition. Don’t be too hard to yourself as well when you cannot make it.
- Find time for networking
Networking can land you a new investor, a great employee, a new customer, or a great mentor. Attend industry and startup events. LinkedIn can be a powerful tool to help you network, so make sure both you and your company have profiles on LinkedIn and that you are constantly adding new connections. When someone does a Google search on you, your LinkedIn profile will usually show up at the top of the search results, so be sure you’re making a good first impression.
- Be patient & Prepare yourself for a longer journey to success
You need to be patient if your business does not grow as you expect it. Since you are doing it during your off time, the result will be different to one done full time. Seth Godin is famous for saying that the average time for overnight success in a startup is six years, even working full-time. Like any startup solution, the first version will likely be wrong, and require one or more pivots. Learn to look for small indications of success to keep you motivated.
If your conclusion after all these pros and cons is that the risk is too high for you, you probably need to keep your day job for the long term, and give your startup idea to someone else. There certainly isn’t anything wrong with a regular well-paid job and career, with health-care benefits and a competitive retirement plan. But the entrepreneur lifestyle is still more fun, even part-time.
Let me hand it over to you, the reader, now. Drop a comment below to let Orshel know what you think of these strategies. Are there any you disagree with? I’d love to hear from you.