How to Start a Business Without Quitting Your Job

August 26, 2013

startabusinessA lot of people would like to start a business, but not if it means quitting their job. If you’ve never been an entrepreneur, it can be scary. While a job promises a steady paycheck and usually benefits too, being self-employed promises neither. But that fear disappears if you can start a business without quitting your job. You can start and grow your business, all while having the reliability of the steady cash flow that your job provides.

But how do you handle both a full-time job and a new business?

1. Pick a business that you actually like.

Juggling a full-time job and a business isn’t the easiest combination, but if the business you start is one that you actually like, the balancing act will be a more comfortable one.

Just the fact that you want to start a business at all may have something to do with the fact that you don’t exactly like what it is you do on your job. If the same condition exists with the business you start, you’ll likely burn out long before the business even gets off the ground.

But if you like the business you start, it will flow more easily with your life, and even within the confines of a tight schedule. The business may not seem like work, and that will enable you to handle both the job and the business for long enough to make the venture profitable.

That being the case, before starting a business, inventory your list of hobbies and passions. The business you start should closely match these. One of the reasons for going into business at all is to pursue your passion or hobby to the “nth” degree. And if you do, it won’t take much motivation on your part to make it work – the energy will just flow.

2. Set a goal for the business.

In combining your job with your new business venture, the chances of success increase if the combination is “only temporary” (note: some temporary arrangements can go on for years!). Spending 40 hours per week on your job and 20-30 hours per week on your business is probably not something you can do indefinitely. But if you attach a specific goal to your business, it might make doing double duty workable.

For example, you can use the business to jump start your retirement savings, to get out of debt, to buy a new car – with cash – or to stock up on your emergency savings. The establishment of a goal will not only give the business a specific (and desirable) purpose, but it will also remove any strict timelines as to how long you’ll work both the job and the business.

And as one goal is achieved, you can add another. If the cycle goes on long enough, you’ll be giving your business sufficient time to grow into where it may become your full-time occupation. It will come about not by adhering to an arbitrary timeframe, but by completing a series of very desirable goals.

3. Set a time budget – and stick to it.

This is perhaps the most critical area in juggling a job and a business. You’ll have to set boundaries as to how much you spend on each, and stick to them no matter what.

When you are on your job, your attention must be 100% on the job, and not on your business. But you’ll need to be completely focused on setting a time budget for your business when you’re not at work. You may even need to set a very specific schedule for the time you will devote to your business each week. You may decide, for example, that Monday through Thursday, from 7 pm to 10:30 pm, and Saturday from 9 am to 3 pm will be devoted to your business. That will give you 20 hours to devote to the business.

If you don’t set up such a schedule, the business will become a completely casual venture – as in whenever I get time for it – and that will doom it to failure.

4. Sub out work when needed.

Most businesses have busy seasons, times when business is heavier than others. Depending upon the type of business it is, you may find that your busy time is on Fridays, at the end of the month, or during summer. Alternatively, you could reach a point where your business is growing and needs more time.

If you aren’t in position to provide the extra time but you also aren’t ready yet to make the business your primary occupation you’ll need to find a way to fill in the gap. One of the best ways to do this is by sub-contracting out the work. With the Internet, you can find people who can handle all sorts of specific functions on a contract basis.

You can, for example, sub out certain technical, marketing or administrative functions. This will free up your time to do what you consider most important for the success of the business. Perhaps it is filling orders, or customer contact, but whatever it is, subbing out work will enable you to concentrate on what you most need to do.

5. Finally take the “leap of faith.”

If your business has been around for a while, is growing steadily, and you’ve needed to hire out subcontractors on a regular basis, it may be time to consider making it your primary occupation. This is the leap of faith that comes with any new venture – that point where you finally give up your job, throw caution to the wind and make your business your main occupation.

Even if you feel pretty confident in your business, quitting your job to pursue it full-time can be a tense situation. But you can minimize the stress by stair-stepping your way out of your job.

At this point you may want to discuss your plans with your employer – you’ll be leaving anyway so why not? See if you can cut your job from full-time to part-time, or even to a contract arrangement. If you can, you’ll be giving yourself the time you need to devote to your business, without completely cutting out your job as a source of income. And as any entrepreneur can appreciate, having an extra source of revenue is never a bad idea. Your job could be that source.

Have you ever had a business and a full-time job? How did you make it work? Leave a comment!


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Kevin Mercadante is professional personal finance blogger, and the owner of his own personal finance blog, He has backgrounds in both accounting and the mortgage industry. He lives in Atlanta with his wife and two teenage kids and can be followed on Twitter at @OutOfYourRut.

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