How to Survive Your Day Job While Starting a Business
So, you want to start a business but you can’t quit your day job.
Trust me. I get it. I am in the exact same boat!
Many of us have dreams and goals to have our own business, be our own boss, and achieve financial freedom through our hard work and efforts.
It’s exciting to pursue entrepreneurial endeavors, but a successful business doesn’t happen overnight. Unfortunately for most people, that means keeping your day job and working on your business when you’re not at work.
But, how can you successfully do both? Both avenues consist of a lot of time, effort, and dedication. On top of that, you still have to live life, take care of your family, be somewhat social, and avoid burnout.
Basically, doing both isn’t a walk in the park. Starting a business alone is hard enough work. Doing it while working a day job is double the work.
That leaves you with only two options. You can quit your day job and give your business 100% of your time and attention, or you can keep your day job and work on your business on the side.
Personally I think option one is the smartest – keeping your job. Why is that? Unless you are born with a silver spoon, which most people aren’t, you need some sort of sustainable income each month. But, there is more than just money to worry about.
Health insurance is a big deal. If your job provides you (and your family) with health insurance, you can’t just walk away from that. Especially since open enrollment for government health insurance only happens once a year.
On top of income and health insurance, there are also logistics to consider with your business. Most businesses don’t make money in the first three years. Can you go that long without a paycheck? And, there is the even scarier statistic that most businesses fail within one year. Do you have a backup plan just in case that happens?
Because of those main elements, it’s smarter to keep your day job while you start your business rather than quitting to give your business your full attention.
While the odds seem grim, the good news is that many people all over the world have started successful businesses while working a day job. In fact, I’d say most people had some sort of primary job while they built their business on the side. Now, that’s an encouraging thought!
So, how exactly can you do both successfully?
Here’s how to survive your day job while starting a business.
1. Establish Your Business Goals
First and foremost, you need to get extremely clear about what you want out of your business.
There will be days where you work long, hard hours at your day job and then you come home to work long, hard hours on your business. You might start to feel like it’s not worth it, things are moving to slow, you’re not seeing the success you hoped for, etc.
That’s why it’s super important to write down your business goals.
When things get tough, overwhelming, and start to seem impossible, look at your goals.
I like to keep my business goals on my desk so that I can see them every day and remind myself of what I’m working towards.
You can write your goals down in your phone, in a planner, or you can use the one-page template I made for you so that you can easily visualize your quarterly business goals.
2. Set Realistic Deadlines
Since the majority of your time will be spent working at your day job, it’s important to be realistic about the amount of work you can complete on your business and the time it takes you to do so.
For example, if you are starting a blog as a business it’s probably unrealistic to publish a blog post every single day. Instead, set a goal to publish twice a week.
Don’t underestimate the amount of work it takes to produce good quality work, and don’t forget how draining balancing both a day job and a business can be.
Recommended: How to Plan Your Work Week in a Few Easy Steps
3. Keep Moving Forward
Take it from someone who has started two businesses while working full-time.
Things. Get. HARD.
The real key to survive your day job while starting a business is to make a deal with yourself to always keep moving forward.
There will be setbacks, there will be days where you don’t get anything done, and there will be days where all you do is second guess your big WHY.
You might have late nights working on your business and early mornings commuting to your day job. Doing both gets exhausting. Don’t let this frustrate you into quitting.
Although bad and stressful days are inevitable, you can control whether or not you give up. Make up your mind from the beginning that you won’t give up.
With that said, you might also experience negativity from others. Actually, let me rephrase that. You WILL experience negativity from others.
Most people are fine with working a 9-5 job their entire life and then retiring. Some people simply don’t understand the working 80 hours a week, 40 at your day job and 40 on your business. They might make little annoying comments, tell you you’re wasting your time, or even try to get you to quit your business and stick to your day job.
Don’t let them get you down. ALWAYS KEEP MOVING FORWARD.
You aren’t starting a business to please your inner circle. You are starting a business to help strangers, to make an impact, to have a creative outlet, and to change your life.
So when things get rough and you have no idea how to survive your day job while starting a business, don’t give up, keep going forward.
4. Don’t Neglect Your Day Job
Your heart, mind, and soul will likely be on your business, but that is not an excuse to be a bad employee. The last thing you want to do is jeopardize your employment at your day job and get fired.
Remember, one of the reasons you are keeping your job while starting a business is so that you can retain that steady income. So, how do you continue to be a good employee?
- Always get to work on time
- Don’t work on your business while you’re clocked in
- Don’t talk about your business endeavors to your co-workers or your boss
- Avoid bad mouthing your day job (or the employees)
- Don’t slack on your duties
With that said, don’t forget that you can work on your business during your lunch break. Working during my 30-minute break is actually how I was able to get this blog started.
5. Educate Yourself to Speed Up the Process
If this is your first time starting a business, (or if this is your first time starting a business in this niche), learn everything you can about the business world you are about to join.
Now, I’m not suggesting going back to school to get a business degree. In our modern age, it is so easy to get educated without going back to school. There are online courses about every topic possible, there are books that break down even the most minute details, there are videos, experts, etc.
The point is, you need to learn, so take the time to learn. Here is another example of how educating yourself can speed things up.
When I first started my blog in 2017, I needed to build a website. I knew absolutely nothing about website development aside from some basic coding I picked up back in my MySpace days. I had two options.
The first option was to hire someone to do everything for me. The problem with that is web developers are expensive and I had very little money. The second option was to learn myself, and that’s exactly what I did.
I researched, I watched videos, I racked everyone’s brains, and I even hired someone for an entire month to teach me how to maneuver the backend of a website.
Now, when I want to make a change to my blog, I know exactly how to do it and I don’t have to wait on someone else to do it for me.
Whatever it is that you need to learn, take the time to become an expert on it. It will save you time in the long run and will help to validate your credibility.
6. Join a Mastermind or Find an Accountability Partner
When you’re trying to survive your day job while starting a business it can be easy to lose focus. After all, you are super tired!
That’s where a mastermind and an accountability partner come in handy.
I actually have both. I am in a mastermind group with 6 other female entrepreneurs and I have an accountability partner I talk to on the phone every week.
The benefit of a mastermind and accountability partner is that they understand exactly what you are going through. People around you might not understand your drive and hustle. You might not even find support from the people closest to you. It’s vital that you don’t lose your focus and motivation.
A mastermind group – preferably one that has a facebook page – is a safe space for you to check in regularly and ask questions, get support, and surround yourself with likeminded people.
Recently, my accountability group met up in Las Vegas for 4 days and we spent the entire time reviewing each other’s business. This trip was something I looked forward too and it pushed me to work extra hard leading up to it.
Also, I took off two days of work (vacation days) so that I could go on the trip. Win-win!
7. Find a Stress Reliever
Anyone else get stressed out, or is it just me?
I know for a fact that it’s not just me who gets stressed. Anyone who is working a day job and starting a business definitely gets stressed out.
Stress is inevitable.
The only thing we can do when we get stressed is to relieve it somehow. Maybe you already know a great stress reliever that works for you every time. Or, maybe you have no idea what to do with all that stress piling up.
Well, you need to find a stress reliever asap and indulge in it at least once a week.
Yep, once a week!
Now, you might be thinking that something uncommon like traveling is your stress reliever. Unless you can travel once a week, it won’t help you with that immediate stress that you need to take care of. Find something that is attainable and easy to access every week.
For me, my go-to stress relievers are baths, painting, journaling, driving, and watching TV/movies with my husband. Each of these things I have immediate access to and can participate in weekly.
Trust me, a go-to stress reliever helps big time when you are trying to survive your day job while starting a business.