Should you start a business while you already have a job, or does it make more sense to quit and dedicate all your time to your new business? This is an ever-debated question, and in my opinion, the answer depends wholly on you and what suits you, personally. There is no right or wrong option here, just pros and cons for each one.
From what I’ve seen, most people prefer to start a business while having the security of an income from an existing business in parallel. That is very likely testament to most people not liking to take risks. Most people are hard wired to leaning towards safety and security. It’s human nature. But then again, there are some people who prefer to take the leap, to jump off the cliff, and to figure things out when under that pressure of having no other option. As Ried Hoffman says, “An entrepreneur is someone who jumps off a cliff and builds a plane on the way down.”
So where does that leave you? If you have an existing job but you’re thinking of starting a business, should you do it in parallel or quit first? Or what if you’re in between jobs and are wondering whether to starting building your business with 100% of your time, or find another job and work on your business in parallel?
Starting a Business in Parallel to Another Job
Starting a business while you already have a steady income from an existing job, whether a corporate role, a part-time job or a job that just helps you pay the bills is a great way to remove the pressure of having to generate profits as early as possible. You can choose to do this if:
- You don’t work well under pressure, and not having an income for a little while would be a lot of pressure on you.
- You don’t have savings to sustain you for at least 12 months while you focus on building your business.
- You aren’t comfortable with releasing your product or service too quickly, and although you know it can’t be perfect, you need a bit longer to feel ready.
- You are creating a business in an industry or field that is new to you, and thus requires you to build up some knowledge prior to being ready.
Dedicating All Your Time to Starting a Business
Quitting your current job in order to dedicate 100% of your time to creating your business works well if:
- You need the pressure in order to get things moving.
- Your current job is extremely time consuming and doesn’t give you the time or brain space that you need in order to spend quality time working on your business.
- You have enough in savings to last you at least 12 months.
- You’d like to be able to spend 100% of your time creating your business.
- You have existing knowledge in the area of your new business, or have already tested the idea.
Deciding Which Option is Right for You
As I mentioned earlier, there is no right or wrong. You could start your business in parallel to an existing job or you can go all in, quit your job and dedicate 100% of your time to building your new business. To help you make that decision, I’ve created the questions below.
Q1: Do you have savings to sustain you for at least 12 months?
Q2: Have you already tested your idea?
Q3: Do you work well under pressure?
Q4: Do you prefer to put in a lot of work in one go to get your business started (versus a longer, steadier build)?
Q5: Do you need external pressure to “encourage” you to make progress with your projects?
Q6: Could you immediately find customers for your product or service if needed?
Q7: Do you have a support network, whether a coach or entrepreneur friends, to guide you through this process?
Q8: Are you absolutely certain that you want to start your own business, and are willing to do whatever it takes?
If you answered yes to at least 7 of these, you could be ready to go all in.
Creating the Right Environment for Success
Whichever option you choose, there are some things you can do to maximize your chances of success in creating and launching your business. These are the 5 principles that I recommend to anyone starting a business.
Invest in guidance: Whether you’re going all in or you’re building your business on the side, getting help from a coach or consultant is going to get you results faster. And that in turn will motivate and encourage you to keep going. Nothing kills drive and enthusiasm faster than not seeing results.
Create a support network: Other than getting the help that will drive results faster for you, it’s also highly beneficial to have a group of friends or peers who are going through the same journey as you are. Your friends and family could be highly supportive, but nothing compares to having people to talk to who truly understand the journey you’re on.
Take breaks: Make sure to schedule in some time daily for a little self care, a little rejuvenation practice and a little enjoyment. But also, make sure to schedule in time off on the weekends, and some additional time off every few weeks. This is beneficial for two reasons: avoiding burnout and allowing new ideas to arise.
Celebrate your wins: Creating and building your own business is a never-ending journey. You will always be working on it, making changes, updating, upgrading, expanding, iterating… and so it becomes even more important to make sure that you’re stopping every now and again, celebrating your wins and acknowledging how far you’ve come. Otherwise, it can start to feel like you’re never actually “done” and you’re never “there”.
Build accountability: Whether you’ve invested in a coach or not, having someone to hold you accountable is priceless. A coach is, by virtue of their role, someone who is there to not only guide you to make the right decisions for you and your business, but also to hold you accountable to implementing and making progress with your business journey.
Deciding the Best Time to Start Your Business
When it comes to deciding the pathway for you and your business, make decisions based on what’s best for you, your skills, your personality and your preferences. Your business and this journey that you’re on (or about to embark on) should be enjoyable, exciting and something that you look forward to every day. Ensure it is those things by leveraging your unique strengths and preferences, not someone else’s.
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