Published on December 27, 2012
Ready to throw all caution (and your full time job) to the wind? Setting up that dream business against all odds? Hold it! Some prudence is in order.
/ by Peter Paul Cauton /
The romantic ideal imagines the entrepreneur as one full of confidence and daring-do: he throws caution to the wind by quitting his day job, jumping in his startup, and somehow making it work.
Reality of course, isn’t as cinematic. Reality involves paying the bills. Realty is worrying about paying for his food, rent, transportation, mobile phone bills, car payments, diapers, tuition fees, and a host of other payables.
Right now, your fulltime salary pays for these bills. If you leave your current job, how many months would it take for you to burn through all your remaining cash? Two months? One? None?
That might not be enough time for you to ensure your startup succeeds.
So… don’t quit your day job. Yet.
Your best bet might be to lengthen your startup preparation time by working on your startup part-time first.
Rather than looking at your day job as a roadblock, you can look at it as an enabler. Your fulltime job will allow you work on your startup with lesser risk. For many people, this might be the only acceptable way they can work on their startup.
(Before we continue, I’d like to stress that we are talking about an honest-to-goodness startup here: a business enterprise which carries your hopes and dreams. We are not talking about a sideline business, like a part-time writing gig or owning a food stall.)
If you’re planning to seriously pursue a startup, consider holding on to your day job with these tips in mind:
Let’s get this out of the way: Starting a business will entail a ton of hard work and commitment on your end.
Like a newborn, the most important thing your startup will need is your time and attention. If you already give nine hours of your time to your day job, you must squeeze out even more time to give to your startup.
Be prepared to sacrifice some of the things you do—your hobbies, going out with friends, watching TV, or even some sleep—to give your startup ample time.
Talk to the people around you who will be affected by this decision, so you can get them not merely to understand, but to actually support your decision.
It’s important to create some cadence in tackling your part-time startup. This rhythm is crucial. You have to create the habit and discipline of working on your startup even if you don’t feel like it.
Believe me, your day job will often make you just want to curl up in bed the moment you get home. Your startup has no chance if you continually give in. Create a schedule and stick to it.
One of the most useful habits I developed was to always just bring baon from the house and eat from my cubicle, where I would maximize that one-hour break by doing research, typing up proposals, or even interviewing potential hires in nearby coffee shops. That’s five hours a week of my premium alert hours right there.
You simply cannot sell your products and services while working on an 8-to-5 job, as these transactions are typically done during the day. So it’s important that you recruit someone, either as a co-founder or an employee, who can help you with these tasks on a full-time basis. Suffice it to say, it has to be someone very trustworthy, self-driven, and independent. Remember, you will not be around to monitor his daily progress.
Under no circumstances should you endanger your integrity by compromising the interests of your current employer. None.
As tempting as it may sound, you mustn’t allow yourself to do your startup work during official working hours, or compromise the quality of your work in any way because you were too distracted with a startup-related project. It really is a small world, and a damaged reputation cannot possibly help your cause. Don’t risk it.
You already work 70-hour workweeks in your current day-job, you say? Where would you find the time for all this?
Unless you have mutated and no longer have the need for sleep, you will have zero time to give your startup under these circumstances. Find another day job. Don’t forget your work-life balance.Peter Paul Cauton is behind Juan Great Leap, a blog and movement that pushes Filipinos to follow their passions and pursue startups. He is a career HR practitioner turned serial entrepreneur, co-founding HR tech firm STORM Consulting, executive search firm Searchlight International, and Streamengine Studios, which makes explainer videos.