Stroke-of-genius start-up idea? You’ve got it on lock. But you can’t give up your full-time salary long enough to get it off the ground. That’s the catch-22 for many aspiring entrepreneurs. Launching something on the side isn’t easy: It can strain relationships, finances and personal sanity. But it’s possible. Here, 5 tips that’ll help you navigate the challenges of making your business dream a reality.
Don't Stop The Hustle
Minimize Your Personal Expenses
Be prepared for a return to college-era poverty, and cut as much as you can out of your personal expense budget. This might mean canceling your cable, eliminating takeout or having girlfriends over instead of meeting them out for dinner. Every dollar you save counts, as a lot of it will end up going into your business in some way or another. Ramen is a new entrepreneur's best friend.
Create A Time Budget
You now have two full-time jobs, so the days of wasting even thirty minutes are behind you. Create weekly schedules that account for every minute, including personal time, and look for ways to optimize work breaks, commute time, etc. Without a boss to police you, it may be tempting to look at time scheduled for your start-up as optional, but that mind-set will sink you. Make no excuses for missing it.
Set Detailed Goals
If you start your company without a business plan that includes specific objectives, it will fail. It can be easy to waste hours doing busy work that's not advancing your business. Measurable, realistic goals keep you from spinning your wheels (remember the acronym SMART when developing your points: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Timebound). Take big goals (your launch date) and break them into smaller and smaller ones. Put them on a calendar to track your progress.
Determine where your strengths lie, and focus your energy there. Outsource everything else. For example, if you're starting a content business because you love writing, focus your energy on the content creation, then assign as much of the other stuff (business development, marketing) as possible so that your time is put to best use. What may take you 5 hours in a field you're unfamiliar with could take a friend or paid consultant an hour.
Burnout is inevitable when you’re working two full-time jobs, and it'll be tempting to quit your paid gig the minute your start-up appears poised for success, but don't. Make sure you step down only when the numbers make sense for you financially. This could mean keeping your salaried job a lot longer than you'd like, but it's a strategy that will eliminate future stress and regret.