How to start a business while working
Starting a business while employed can be a great way to test your business ideas – here is how you could make it work.
For many people, quitting a job to start a business is an unaffordable luxury. With bills to pay and families to support, many have no option but to keep the day job while building their new company – necessitating a delicate juggling act fraught with stress, complexity and potential conflicts of interest. However, there’s no reason why you can’t serve your day job and side hustle.
Some of the world’s top companies started as a side hustle, during evenings and weekends. Balancing a job role with a start-up can have real advantages, enabling you to gain contacts and advice while testing your commitment to the company you wish to start.
We have asked some of Britain’s top entrepreneurs to offer their advice on how to start a business while working. Here is what they told us:
Create a clear schedule
At the outset, it’s vital that you create a clear, realistic timeline for starting up your business, breaking down the process into achievable goals. That way you will always be clear exactly where you are up to, vital in maintaining focus and avoiding frustration.
Prioritise the most important tasks and those which will take longer, such as securing insurance, completing the necessary registration, and applying for start-up funding. If you leave these until the end, you could face exasperating last-minute delays.
Think about approaching your boss
Wendy Tan White founded the web development company Moonfruit while working at internet bank Egg. She quoted: “Don’t think you can’t go and speak to your boss. Even if you haven’t gotten a close relationship, most companies want to keep their staff and even if they can only keep you part-time, it might be worth their while.”
Many employers are entrepreneurs themselves and will appreciate the fact that you have shown initiative, particularly if you choose your words carefully.
Christian Lanng, who started up Tradeshift while working for the Danish government said: “You should demonstrate to your bosses that what you are doing is a compliment to them. Tell them why it will help the existing workplace, flatter their ego, and give them credit.”
Use your holidays
If you want to get your business up and running quickly, you will need to use all the time available and annual leave provides a key window of opportunity. Moreover, by using your holidays for work rather than pleasure, you could end up making financial savings to go towards your start-up.
Although, for some your family may not appreciate the fact you are devoting holidays to work, but hopefully, when your company takes off, they will see the benefits of the decision.
Get into a routine
As anyone who’s ever revised for an exam knows, the structure is crucial to working effectively at home. This is doubly important if you have already worked a full day; so you need to plan out a regime for your start-up, identifying the exact time you will be starting work each evening, and the time you will be logging off for the night.
Once you have created your schedule, make sure you stick to it. Don’t take refuge in procrastination and don’t work a minute below your finish time. The more disciplined you can be, the better.
Maximize the resources available
Mayhew founder of a tech company founded a company while holding a senior position at his job, said:
“I definitely spent lots of late nights thinking it through, writing and making plans on the internet. A lot of the market research was available on the internet – it’s extraordinary how much you can get.
“I also talked through with friends with relevant backgrounds, particularly accountancy backgrounds, in the evenings. People will be generous with their time, so you should ask for as much advice as you can get. With things like cash-flow forecasting, everyone needs as much help as they can get.”
You may have always dreamed of standing completely on your own two feet. However, if you want to build a successful start-up without quitting your existing job, you may need the support of someone else.
According to John; “it’s tough to discipline yourself when starting up on your own, so it’s good to have a co-founder, so you can meet and work outside the 9-to-5.
“If you really don’t want to work with a co-founder, find someone like a friend or mentor, who is doing something similar. I know entrepreneurs who will meet other entrepreneurs and work together, to create a structure for their day.
“It’s also worth trying to get yourself into a group that meets once a week or once a month – there are loads of groups out there and they can help you through it.”
Try and get full-time help
Sarah mentioned how she hired her first employee two months into the business, ensuring that someone would be working on the business throughout the working day while the founders were seeing out their paid job.
Nevertheless, you may well be unable to pay someone before you get the business off the ground; in this case, you might want to think about taking a young graduate on a placement or work experience stint. Sites such as Gumtree will allow you to run job adverts for free, which could provide another vital cost-saving.
Choose a good location
When you are juggling two jobs, every minute counts. You have to make the very best of all the time you have available. It is essential that you find a location that works for you, and allows you to achieve maximum productivity without distraction.
John said “I do not like working in the house that much, but a lot of good coffee shops have Wi-Fi, some people will even let you use their offices.
In the age of smartphones, tablets, and personal email addresses, there’s no reason to bring your start-up activity into your day job, because the two can be kept completely separate.
Christian advised: “Be fair, and careful, about how you use email. Use Hotmail or Yahoo! mail to generate correspondence about your start-up, don’t use your work account.”
Some entrepreneurs have also added: “In order that there’s no conflict or interruption, I would advise setting up another phone number so that you don’t have people calling you at the office with regards to your new business venture.”
Behave with respect
Ultimately, like entrepreneurs, you have to behave with respect. Your current employer could be a potential customer, supplier, or even investor one day, so try not to burn your bridges. You might hate your paid job, but it’s still important to be professional. There is a saying, what goes around comes around, and if you treat your boss badly, they will remember it.
If you are still not sure whether to start your own business, contact us https://obiankesbusinesses.co.uk/contact/ and we will provide some extra motivation.
If you finally do set up a company and as your business grows it is likely you will begin to think about leaving your job to work on your start-up full-time. We have a guide to help you quit your job.