The hardest step to starting a business is often just deciding to take the leap. You’re ready to turn that hobby or passion into a job, but you have bills to pay and responsibilities that demand you still keep your steady job, at least for now.
That’s no reason to give up. Your dreams are important—and you can follow them while remaining financially stable. Though starting a business comes with plenty of risks, you don’t have to put your financial security and livelihood on the line. There will be challenges, but thinking long-term and keeping your eye on the goals you want to achieve will help you run your own company in no time.
1- Create a long-term plan
Find time to dedicate to your business when you’re not at work. Putting in work after your job may take some getting used to, but you can start by dedicating an hour or two daily—and build up as you go. The first steps to starting a business involves a lot of paperwork, but it can easily be done after hours at home.
One of the first steps you should take is crafting a thorough business plan that will one day sell your idea to future lenders and partners. It should include a thorough overview of your business’s mission, how you plan to make money, and how you plan to grow . Putting the effort in now and making your business plan as detailed as possible will set you up for success and help you focus your efforts on the points that matter.
Your business plan should cover the next three to five years. Once it’s completed, consider making a ten year plan. Set realistic goals and figure out where you’d like to be financially and when you hope to get there. Though your business plan should be a priority, setting a goal to chip away at a chunk of it each night after work will help you stay structured and realistic as you juggle responsibilities.
2- Check whether you have a non-compete
It’s important to think about what kind of business you’re starting, and whether it conflicts with your day job. As part of your onboarding process at your current job, you may have had to sign a non-compete agreement. Read this carefully—you may have agreed not to start (or work for) a company that directly competes with the business you work at.
As long as your business is in a different industry, you should be safe. Regardless, it’s still a good idea to discuss your business ventures with your boss. Honesty is always the best policy, especially in the workplace.
As you ramp up your business, you may be tempted to use a few slow afternoon hours at work to do your own thing, but if you aren’t ready to say goodbye to your stable job, don’t. Make it a point not to work on your business venture while in the office or use company resources for non-work related needs and you’ll stay on your employers good side until you’re ready to venture out on your own.
3- Prioritize your next steps
Figuring out how to separate your day-job life, business life, and personal life may be challenging, but with tight-scheduling and a solid drive, you’ll master it in no time. Seeking a mentor could help, especially if they’re an entrepreneur in a similar field as yourself. Tell friends, family, co-workers about your new venture and you’ll probably come across someone who has done the same before. If you’re unsure of who to reach out to, there are resources like MictoMentor or TiE Global, which will help connect you with a mentor.
You’ll be allocating your time and money in three different directions now—day job, career, and personal time—you want to make sure it’s dispersed appropriately. Your day job pays the bills, so your work hours should be spent focusing on that job—and only that. When it comes to spending, focus on essentials such as rent, utility bills, and credit card payments first. The more you save for your company, the better. Cut back on non-essentials like coffee and happy hours and put all of your extra money into a business fund.
4- Find your funding
Sooner or later, even if you’ve scrimped a lot, you will probably find yourself in need of extra funds. If budgeting from your own paycheck isn’t enough to make ends meet, you may want to look into other ways to finance your business. If you’re looking for working capital, a small business loan or a business credit card are a great option. However, the reality is that you may not qualify for a loan at this point in your career. Normally, lenders have a minimum for time in business for companies that they are willing to lend to. It’s important not to get discouraged, you still have options.
Crowdsourcing through applications like Kickstarter are a popular option for entrepreneurs who have an idea for a specific product. Personal loans are another great option – this way you can also build your personal credit. Finally, you may be able to borrow money from friends and family by offering incentives like equity.
If you’re doing it right, your business will quickly become your passion. But don’t let your passion get in the way of your work commitment. If you’re dedicated to keeping your full time job, it’s important to maintain focused and driven while at work so you can keep the lights on at home.
But as your business grows, stay realistic. If you find that in order to succeed, you need to put more hours and more time into your business, consider asking for help or, if your can, quitting your full time job.
However, it’s important to look for signs that your startup has grown to a point where it can be a full-time commitment. Perhaps you’re finding that your day job is filling up all of your freetime—and cutting into necessary you-time, like sleep or time with loved ones. Or, maybe all of your passion has shifted to your company, and you no longer get fulfilment at your day job. If you can financially swing it, this could mean that it’s time to make your new business your full-time job.
It may be easy to get overwhelmed, you’ll be juggling a lot. Focusing on your ten year plan, goals, and passion you have for your business will help you push through until your company grows enough to provide for you.
The Bottom Line:
Pursuing a passion and becoming an entrepreneur is an exciting step in life. The reward of seeing your dream unfold will be a fulfilling experience. Focus on the long term and don’t let the fear of the workload hold you back.
About Author: Jared Jared Hecht
Jared Hecht is the co-founder and CEO of Fundera, an online marketplace to help business owners secure financing. Prior to Fundera, Hecht co-founded group messaging app, GroupMe.