How to Start a Business and Keep Your Full-Time Job

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You might be wondering, “Is it possible to start a business and keep my full-time job”. The short answer: YES!!

Just because you have a full-time job doesn’t mean you can’t totally kick butt in a side hustle. In fact, many successful business owners created and grew their business after they got off work.

The great thing about keeping your full-time job and working on a side hustle is that you are still guaranteed a steady income. That income can provide you with what you need to pay your bills and also lend some startup money to your business.

Now, I know there is this idea floating around that you should quit your job and go all into your business.

Personally, I don’t think this is a good idea unless you make a full-time income from your side hustle or if you have a life partner who can carry you financially for a few years. Otherwise, it can be financially difficult to give up your only source of income in order to dive headfirst into a business that hasn’t made money yet.

Regardless, a full-time job should not stop you or scare you away from starting a business.

If you’re wondering how to start a business and keep your full-time job, it’s not as hard as it sounds. Seriously, it’s completely doable! I did it, millions of other people did it, and now you can do it too. Here’s how to start a business and keep your full-time job!

1. Decide on your business

Step one, decide on your business/side hustle!

For years and years, I wanted to start a business, I just didn’t know what I wanted to do. I have an entrepreneur mindset so it constantly nagged at me to start something. I dabbled in a few things (DIY bracelets, content writing, filmmaking) but the ones that stuck were my e-commerce business and this blog.

It took me a while to get to these solid businesses (business license and all) but once I knew, it was easy to get going.

If you aren’t sure what type of business or side hustle you want to start, here is a list of possibilities to pick from.

  1. Start a blog
  2. Sell products on Amazon
  3. Sell products on eBay
  4. Start an e-commerce store
  5. Drive for Uber or Lyft
  6. Deliver food for Postmates, DoorDash, Uber Eats (fun fact, my Fiance did this for months and it paid his rent!)
  7. Start an Airbnb
  8. Social media manager for a small business
  9. Sell your services on Fivver (great for graphic designers)
  10. Create an online course
  11. Write an e-book on something you know a ton about
  12. Start a podcast
  13. Start a youtube channel
  14. Sell your handmade products on Etsy
  15. Become a freelance writer
  16. Become a Virtual Assistant (VA’s are huge in the online business world)

Those are just a few examples of businesses/side hustles you can start after hours.

2. Make a business plan

It’s simply not enough to start a business and not have a plan. Obviously, most plans include becoming successful and making money. To get to that success, you need to make a legitimate business plan.

A good business plan will help guide you on your journey and keep you on track to your overall goal.

A business plan also helps you think through all the areas you might not have thought were important. For example, a business plan will address your marketing plan, your purpose, mission statement, your audience, and more.

To learn how to make a business plan, check out this article: 7 Steps to a Perfectly Written Business Plan.

3. Set 1, 3, 5, 10 year goals

Goals are gold. You should definitely set them for the important milestones of your business. But, they have to be attainable and realistic.

Here is an example of a poor goal: I will make 1 million dollars within the first 6 months of my business.

The reason this is a poor goal is that it’s not very attainable or realistic.

Here is an example of a good goal: I will set up and implement a solid marketing strategy within the first 6 months of business.

This is a good goal because it gives you a big project to work on and a time to create and implement it.

I go more into depth on how to set goals in my free Goals and Growth Guidebook. To get your copy, sign up below!

4. Fully commit yourself to your business

I know way too many people who start a business that they are half committed to.

We can all probably think of those people who call themselves a business owner but never actually puts any effort into their business.

Don’t be that person!

If you’re starting a business or you already have one, you need to be 100% committed to it. This might mean passing up on fun activities like hanging out with friends, watching TV, taking trips, and so much more. But, that is just the reality of starting a business and keeping your full-time job. Something has to go and it can’t be your business or your job.

When I started this blog, it became my number one priority. I even had to set aside my true passion (screenwriting) in order to give this blog all my attention.

If you really believe in your business and you want it to succeed, there should be no reason that you don’t dedicate all your time to it. In the end, it will all be completely worth it as long as you are fully committed.

5. Get ridiculously organized

When you start a business, there is so much to deal with. Add a full-time job on top of that and life might feel impossible. The one thing that is guaranteed to help is proper organization.

You’ll want to make sure you get organized right from the start. Set aside a day or two to just organize everything. This will help you tremendously.

My whole philosophy is that the more organized you are, the more productive you can be.

Here are some different tools and methods I use to keep organized with my business.

  • Excel
  • Hanging folders/file folders
  • Business Monthly Ledger
  • Google keep

If you aren’t organized, chances are you will struggle on your way to success. Make things easier on yourself and make organization a priority.

6. Schedule office hours for your business

Part of your commitment to the business you start is making sure to show up. This might sound silly. You might be thinking, of course, I’ll show up! But, it can be so easy to get home from work and not make time for your business.

If you treat your business like a real job, then you need office hours. After all, your boss at work expects you to come to work each day at the agreed upon time. This is no different. You are your own boss and you need to expect yourself to show up every day to put in work.

You likely won’t be able to put in 40 hours a week since this is a side hustle, but you need to work as many hours as you possibly can.

I suggest that you write down your business office hours and put them where you can see them every day. This way you have some sort of accountability to yourself and a daily reminder.

7. Treat it like a business, not a hobby

If you want to start a business, start a business! Sounds simple enough, but a lot of people start a business that they treat like a hobby.

Here is the difference. A business is something that needs 24/7 attention. A hobby is something you get around too when you have some spare time. Also, a business can make you money. Hobbies usually can’t make you an income.

If you treat your business with the respect and time it deserves, others will treat it seriously and respect your time. If you treat it like a hobby, there is no respect and others will not expect you to dedicate time to it.

Remember, starting a business is an investment and it’s your time. Your time is valuable. Don’t sell yourself short by treating your business any less than what it is: a business.

8. Accept that there won’t be income for awhile

This is the hard part. It’s one thing to dedicate time, effort, and money into a business you believe in. It’s another thing to continuously believe in a business that doesn’t make income.

Statics show that it can two between 2 – 3 years for a new business to make money. That’s a long time to work every day for free!

Additionally, businesses often lose money before they make money. I have definitely experienced this with my e-commerce business.

So, if there won’t be money for a while, why keep going? The answer is easy. Everything good takes time. Everything worth it takes time. Overnight success never happens overnight.

If you’re looking to get rich quick, starting a business probably isn’t for you. But, if you’re looking to lay a foundation and take the time to grow, the long term rewards will be worth it.

Just know that going into the business, it will be a while before the income comes pouring in. That’s just another reason to keep that full-time job!

9. Plan to work on the weekends

No days off. Seriously.

Just like an athlete, weekends are a great opportunity to put in some work and improve on your craft.

To start a business, you have to leave behind the 8-5 mentality. At your full-time job, you are working on someone else’s dream. With your business, you are working on your own dream. Why would you take the weekends off?

Think about it this way. There are 52 weekends in a year (Saturday & Sunday). That’s 104 days. Why would you take 104 days off of work on your business?!

Those 104 days are valuable and must be used to work on your business. If you want to succeed, you will schedule a few office hours on these days.

10. Stay loyal to your full-time job

Your full-time job is paying your bills, remember? Stay loyal to it and don’t work on your business during your job. You should still be a good employee.

Even if you want to someday quit your day job and work on your business full-time, it is morally responsible to remain honest at your job. Besides, you wouldn’t want to get fired and have 0 income!

11. Be realistic, but dream big

I made this mistake in the first year of my e-commerce business. I wasn’t realistic. And let me tell you, but the end of the year I was devastated.

I’m not the type of person who takes failure that great. I feel like I completely failed in my first year of real business.

Starting a business was the easy part. I came up with the idea, I did my research, I got a business license, I popped my information online, and I waited for success. When it didn’t happen, I started to sulk.

None of the numbers I wrote down on my goals list were being met. In fact, it was the opposite. I was losing money.

When I started the business, I wrote on a piece of paper how much money I expected to make that year. I even told my banker the number. It was a huge unrealistic number. I didn’t even allow myself the chance to grow.

Don’t make the same mistake I made. When setting your goals, be realistic.

However, I’m not telling you not to dream big. I still have giant goals and dreams that I know I will achieve in the (near) future. However, I now allow myself to achieve smaller and more realistic goals along the way.

By doing this, I constantly fulfill important milestones and I make progress towards my long term goals.

Realistic goals also help me feel more accomplished and appreciative of the progress I have made.

Related: How to Set Effective Quarterly Goals for Maximum Success

12. Be prepared for the stress of all. the. things.

You’re going to start a business while working full-time. That is a huge indicator that stress is bound to happen. There really is no way around it.

You might feel like you aren’t dedicating enough time to the business, issues will pop up that you don’t know how to handle, you might lose sleep, and so on. There is no real way to avoid stress entirely.

So, what can you do about it?

Find a stress reliever that works for you. When you are overwhelmed and need a break, engage in your chosen stress reliever.

I have one main stress reliever that works every time. I take a bath. A long, long bath.

Now, here’s the thing. Taking a bath doesn’t solve any of my problems. What it does is actually more important. A bath takes me away from the hustle and bustle of it all and forces me to disconnect and relax. I take 2 – 3 baths a week (yep, I get that stressed out!).

Find what works as your stress reliever and use it as often as you need.

13. Give your business time to grow

I’ve already gone over some stats in this post, so I think it’s safe to say that it takes a few years for a business to grow.

The only thing you can do is be patient and work hard. If you are constantly and consistently putting in a solid effort with your business, you will see the results.

If after a few months you haven’t seen the growth you want, that doesn’t mean you should quit. All that means is that you need to give it more time.

Your business will succeed with time and dedication. I believe in you!

What business are you thinking about starting? Let me know in the comments! Best of luck to you!

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