Should You Start a Business While You Have a Job?

I’ve heard people say that they want to quit their jobs and start a business so often it has almost become a cliché.  The truth, though, is that the process of becoming an entrepreneur is not one that happens overnight.

Most self-employed individuals, myself included, remain gainfully employed at another job while taking one step at a time to launch a new business.

As you might imagine, this is easier said than done, for you don’t want to ruin your reputation at your existing job as a hard worker.  It’s only fair to your current employer that you efficiently do the job you’re being paid to do.  Therefore, you should take care to avoid scheduling meetings or calls for your business during while you’re on the clock, and don’t use company technology or supplies for your new venture either.

Benefits of a Gradual Transition

Setting ground rules like these will probably mean longer hours and substantial juggling for a while, but starting a business while you’re still employed has its benefits.  I’m fond of saying that not everyone is cut out for the risky and stressful lifestyle of an entrepreneur, and dipping your toe in is a good way to determine whether it’s really and truly for you.

Furthermore, if you take away the financial pressure of needing your business to make money right away, you will be more likely to have a successful venture in the long-run because you will be able to take your time with market research, real consumer trials, and consults with local, small business development centers.

Know When It’s Time to Leave

At some point, it will probably make sense for you to make your new business your full-time job.  How do you know?  A good sign is that your side gig’s revenue has now surpassed your annual salary, or that you are now able to support your family without the income from your day job.

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  • dgloo

    Wise words. Thanks for the post. The only thing I would change would be to strengthen the statement about “taking care to avoid taking calls or scheduling meeting for your business while you're on the clock”. I think the two jobs must be totally separate in both time and place.

    Again, thanks for the post.

  • Alexandra Levit

    Agreed. Getting caught doing work for your other business while at your paying job is the fastest way I know to get yourself in hot water. Thanks for reading!

  • cameronplommer

    When I start my own business, or side project this is how I will probably do it personally. It might start off with 10 hours a week on the weekend to ease make sure my personal life doesn't fall apart.

    I wish more people would talk about the effects a side business has on one's spouse, significant other, and friends.

  • Aja

    Great Insight. What do you think, however, about those like myself who were laid off from their full time jobs? I had already started my business on the side, now that I have been laid off I have more time to devote to it and have been able to build it so that it is making more, but still only about half of what I was making as an employee. Now I am at the crossroads between seeking another job and going back to work which may cost me money and clients.

  • Alexandra Levit

    Great point. I think there is the potential for relationships to really suffer, and if you don't have relationships, you won't be happy no matter how successful your business is.

  • Alexandra Levit

    A lot of people are in this situation, so you're not alone. I think whether you pursue another “day job” depends on financial constraints. If focusing on your business involves discomfort but no real crisis, then I would say give it a year and see how you can build it up.