Becoming an entrepreneur is the stuff dreams are made of: making your first million, delivering the world’s next big idea, starting that sweet little shop, being your own boss. But if your stone cold reality is a 9-to-5 job, you can still make the entrepreneur dream come true.
The strategy: transitioning into being an entrepreneur while you still have full-time work.
“Very few companies that enjoy incredible success today were started by people who had no other commitments,” noted Brandon Turner in Entrepreneur. “Instead, they were built in basements and garages, and while the founder was employed at another company.”
According to the Kaufman Organization’s 2017 State of Entrepreneurship report, the outlook is bright for entreprenuers. “Overall entrepreneurial outcome indicators have gone up, job creation by new establishment is on an uptick and optimism among small business owners has surged.”
Turner, co-host of the BiggerPockets podcast, and other startup experts recommend these seven strategies for transitioning into being an entreprenuer while you still have a day job:
Stop viewing your job as a ball and chain. Instead, consider the full-time job you have while you’re transitioning to being an entrepreneur a blessing. “Your job is the gasoline that will keep your entrepreneurial dreams alive while you are building your side project,” Turner said. “Without that paycheck, you’ll be out there spending all your time trying to raise money rather than spending your time perfecting your business. So stop thinking of your job as something that is dragging you down, but as a partner that is holding you up until the time is right to leave.”
Study business management. Even if your passion is textile design or that one widget that could make a fortune, if you plan to be an entrepreneur, you will need to know business basics. “No matter what you choose to do, you will be managing a business first and whatever the business does second,” noted career coach Rob Gillies on Quora.com.
Prioritize your time. Turner calls attention to the total 168 hours in a week.
“Your job takes up 40, your sleep takes up 56, and you are still left with 72 hours to build your business,” he said. “You need sleep. You need food. You have kids. However, you don’t need Netflix. You don’t need CNN. You don’t need the two hours and 57 minutes per day you spend staring at your smartphone.”
A few ways to maximize your time include possibly waking up earlier or eating fewer meals in restaurants and more from the microwave or slow cooker.
Zone in on your vision for the future. According to executive coach Linda Townsend, you can readily establish your startup mission long before you turn in your notice at your full-time job. Start by asking yourself big-picture questions such as, “What contribution do I want to make to the world or to my business?” Townsend told Inc.com. Next steps include making a list of your role models and the characteristics in them that you most admire; listing your core values and definition of success; and turning these insights into a personal mission statement.
Focus on daily imperative action. Whether you’re working 9-to-5 or have unlimited free time to pursue your startup, locking yourself in a room for a month and emerging with a multi-million one-hit-wonder is not the way a business gets built, according to Turner. “It’s not enough to just work hard. It’s not enough to work hard every day. It needs to be imperative work, done daily,” he said. The work can’t consist of non-urgent or unimportant tasks like checking e-mails or yet more phone calls to share the same ideas with people who aren’t stakeholders. “You only have so many hours to work on your side business outside of your job hours, so you better make them count,” Turner noted.
Establish a routine of healthy habits. According to Townsend, some simple self-care habits are essential if you hope to survive the demands of becoming an entreprenuer: get 8 hours of sleep each night, exercise for 20 minutes each day, do something creative or fun each day and connect with the people you care about.
Keep your friends and family. Instead of figuring you can devote 100 percent of your time to becoming an entrepreneur and worry about the personal relationships you leave behind later, have a plan for personal time, too, says Gillies. “You don’t have to give up your life in order to build a business,” he said. “You’ll need to have support of your family, friends, spouse and children. Create a schedule that includes them and work diligently to stick to it. Doing so in the beginning will create the foundation for the future of how you operate.”