You want to start a business. But you have a full-time job. Where do you go from here?
First, congratulations! You’re in great company. Most successful entrepreneurs have launched a business while working full-time. Sara Blakley, the founder of Spanx, continued selling fax machines until she felt confident her business concept would be successful. Howard Schultz–the CEO Starbucks–worked at Xerox before starting his job at the original Starbucks, which he would eventually turn into the staple coffee stop it is today. Even Sergey Brin and Larry Page were pursuing Ph.Ds from Stanford before ultimately dropping out to dive full-time into Google Inc.
If they can do it; you can, too.
In fact, most experts agree: When you’re starting a business or still in the early growth phases, keep your day job. After all, you need all the financial stability you can get right now!
Even so, balancing a full-time job with starting a business with having a life can seem like an impossible feat. Here are some tips to help make it a little bit easier.
Get started on your business plan.
Before you can do anything, you need to ask yourself some hard questions. Like what is your product or service, what makes it unique, and what problem is it seeking to resolve? Who will you be selling to? How? Where? What are your major costs, and how will you get financing?
Having a plan in place is crucial for all entrepreneurs and will help you lay the groundwork before quitting your full-time job. Here are a few of our local resources who can help you get started on your business plan!
Get legal with it.
Before you can utter the long-awaited words–I quit–make sure that you are legally prepared to take this step. For instance, make sure you are using your own time and equipment when starting your business. And remember those documents you signed when you first started? Be sure to review the employment and non-disclosure agreements to make sure you aren’t breaking any binding legal agreements. This will make it more difficult for your employer to come after you in the future.
Still not sure? A lawyer can help you better understand the process and the steps you need to take to ensure you are working within the law.
Put it to the test.
You have a great idea, but have you put it to the test? Before your service or product is considered market-ready, make sure you have tested it, developed prototypes, and taken the time to fully understand the wants and needs of your target audience.
As the founder of LinkedIn said, “If you are not embarrassed by the first version of your product, you’ve launched too late.”
Most likely, your initial vision of your product won’t be the final one. Build prototypes, and take the time it needs to make product improvements. Always consider, Now that it’s perfect, how can I make it better?
Remember to take it seriously.
Entrepreneurs who take their startups seriously are guaranteed to be more successful. Instead of treating your startup as a hobby, make it a priority. Set measurable goals, allocate time, and create a schedule. By knowing what comes next, you can better define the steps you need to take to get there.
Remember: Although starting your own business is fun and fulfilling, it’s much more than a hobby.
Get out there, and meet people.
In today’s world, ads don’t sell products; people sell products.
Take advantage of the networking opportunities within Charlotte’s business community. You never know when an opportunity to collaborate, partner, or learn will present itself, but a networking event is a great place to start.
Be willing to work weekends.
This one’s obvious. If you aren’t willing to work night’s and weekends–and don’t want to run the risk of legal trouble by starting your business on your employer’s hours–it’s going to be near impossible to start your business while working full-time. This can be especially hard for individuals balancing family and other commitments, but be patient, make time for your priorities, and the hard work will pay off.
Know when to jump in with both feet.
So when is it time to quit your full-time job? This moment looks different for everyone, but one thing is certain: It’s always going to feel too soon.
Quitting your full-time job to focus exclusively on your startup is terrifying and full of unknowns. But if you’ve put in the strategic, legal, and financial work to prepare yourself, have a stable customer base, and have grown your network–and if you’ve tested and perfected your product or service with proven success–you might just be ready to become a full-time entrepreneur!
For more help and support as you transition from full-time employee to full-time entrepreneur, be sure to check out the local resources committed to helping entrepreneurs starting a business!