How to start a business while you’re still employed

Becoming the stuff of startup legend is a feat that very few achieve. Don't be that guy

Becoming the stuff of a startup legend is a feat that very few achieve, but one that many strive for. There’s no magic recipe for making your business succeed. Although, it doesn’t take a genius to state that the initial finances of a business is perhaps the most important part. So maintaining your day job, as two thirds of small business owners do in the beginning, whilst you get your feet off the ground is one of the best early business decisions you can make. If you’re stuck at a desk when you’d rather be living your pipe dream of becoming the next Jack Dorsey, look no further.

Keep them separate

There’s no point in holding down your 9-to-5 if you’re going to be forever distracted by the pressure of business plans and meetings for the startup that you’re trying to get off the ground. You need to make sure that you fully separate the two: if you need to have meetings, do it outside of working hours or take some holiday and the same goes for business plans. Equally, walking out of the office to take personal phone calls will do nothing for your credibility. Remember, without this job there will be no income, so you need to hold it down and try not to get on the wrong side of your boss.

Don't keep it a secret

You shouldn't be ashamed to share your prospects with the rest of your office

Unless what you’re setting up is an active competitor of your current job, you shouldn’t be ashamed to share your prospects with the rest of your office. You never know who might suddenly offer a helping hand and point you in the direction of potential investors or clients. You should also open that line of communication with your employer, because if they’re an entrepreneur themselves, they’ll likely be able to offer you some fantastic advice along the way.

Manage your time

In the same vein as keeping your day job and your new venture separate, knowing how to correctly manage your time is essential. Staying late in the office is going to do no favours for your business, or your mentality, if you’re then working on your business plan until 3am. The importance of time management and organisation is something that’s very easily overlooked, particularly in the beginning stages. Get this wrong, and you risk terrible performances in both areas.

Remember, this isn't going to be easy

Unrealistic expectations on both yourself and your startup are the reason why so few business ideas actually grow

Unrealistic expectations on both yourself and your startup are the reason why so few business ideas actually grow into a financially viable operation. Understanding the commitment and pressures that you’re putting on yourself, and being realistic with them, is key. Start with a timeline, think about how long you’re going to work two jobs together and how much you need to save. Be realistic.

Think about getting help

Your business ideas might be financial gold dust, ones that you don’t wish anyone else to take the credit for, but it’s worth thinking about getting some outside help if time is not on your side. You need a trusted partner that can take care of any matter that you can’t. The key is to find the right person, preferably someone that you already know and trust. In order for the partnership to work, you need to lay down the law from the outset, without making any empty promises that could potentially damage both your relationship and your business.

Re-evalute your lifestyle

It’s unlikely that your business will ever be successful if you never fully commit to working full time on it. Holding down two jobs at the same time can work, but only temporarily. You need to manage the two for as short a time as possible, and try and keep things as easy on yourself as you can. Work out how much money you need to save in the longterm to be able to run the business without a full time income. Your social life may have to suffer as you become the friend who can’t go out all the time anymore, but it will be worth it in the end.

Patience is a virtue – as is courage

Always also remember, gentlemen, that patience is a virtue – as is courage. There’s no right time to set up a business and to take the plunge, all you can have is confidence in knowing that what you’re doing is the right thing and that it has huge potential to be successful.

India Gladstone

India Gladstone

India is the Online Editor of Gentleman's Journal

Further Reading