Often for Australian entrepreneurs, quitting their full-time jobs to start their dream business is not a viable option. While it is certainly challenging to work full time and simultaneously maintain a business, it certainly can be done – as many successful innovators and changemakers are showing us.
For most of them, the aim is to have their business take off, so that one day, they can quit their day jobs and become full-time business owners. The key, most of them agree, is hard work and getting help when needed.
How do they make it work?
Here are some tips from successful start-up entrepreneurs who worked on their dream projects while working full-time:
- Keep focus and have a schedule: When you are essentially shuffling two jobs, every minute counts. Having to-do lists and schedules with set reminders allow you to keep track of everything.
- Do not use your employer’s time or resources: This is very important in order to avoid problems later on. Most companies nowadays do not mind their employees working on another project, but it is a good idea to make sure of this. Some have rules against selling a competing product or service.
- Be prepared to go slow: As you are only spending a portion of your time for your business, it will take more time to grow and reach where you want it to be. Do not overestimate your abilities and get disappointed.
- Delegate and outsource where possible: Know what you can take on and rely on outside help for as many tasks as possible. If your business is mainly done online, you can source help from freelance websites.
Why go for it?
Once you have a solid idea for a business, you are faced with the decision: Should I quit my job or try to shuffle both? If you do not have an additional income source or adequate reserve cash and have a family to support, it makes sense not to quit your full-time job – at least until your business has taken off and you start making money. That way:
- You have a back-up income: It takes quite some time to get returns from a start-up business. Meanwhile, you have to live your life and pay the bills. Some even view their salary as a means to fund their new venture. Make sure you budget properly and account for everything you spend.
- You are doing what you love: You evidently believe that your idea has a market and that it provides a useful service – which is why you are willing to give up all your spare time for it. If ever a situation comes up that you lose your job, you will be ahead of others because you will already have a venture that you enjoy doing.
- Investors might be more favourable to your pitch: Raising capital can go either way. Some investors take the view that you cannot be serious about your business if you are not giving it your full attention. But others look at your employment favourably, especially if you have a successful track record with your company. This is especially true for young entrepreneurs.
Things to consider
Even if you are considering your venture as a side business, it requires the same effort and faces the same challenges as a regular business. Here is what you will be facing:
- You can’t give your business your full attention: Once you are consumed by your business idea, it is natural that you want to give it your all. But with a full-time job, this is definitely not possible. You job requires the same effort and commitment and it is not fair to lose focus there.
- You might not always be able to get off work for a business need: Someone else might be handling most of the day-to-day activities of your business, or you might be doing it yourself in your spare hours. However it is, if a sudden need comes up, you might not be able to get away. At best, you might have to be satisfied with delegating the responsibility to someone else.
- You will lose your spare time: Most entrepreneurs who do this juggling act agree that you can say goodbye to spare time and hobbies. All your spare time will be taken up by your business and you will lose out on family time and personal relationships – at least during the crucial initial phase.
Whatever you decide, there comes a time when you have to give up the safety of your job and take the leap – because you just will not be able to expand if you are continuing in ‘safe mode’. With a lot of hard work and a little bit of luck, you can time it just right and end up as a successful full-time entrepreneur. When you scale out of full time work and into part or even full time work for your own business, there are plenty of co-working facilities around that you can take advantage of, which allow you to reduce your overheads (most small businesses start on a small budget!) and have flexibility. You also get to work with plenty of likeminded individuals who can help you build your network and impart invaluable advice.
The best ones I have found are:
- Perth – Atomic Sky Tech Hub
- Sydney – Fishburners
- Melbourne – York Butter Factory
- Brisbane – Cowork Brisbane
- Adelaide – Adelaide Coworking
- Canberra – BrainSpace