You slog through a 9 to 5 work day that involves sitting through mind-numbing meetings, breaking for lunch (which you inhale at your desk) and watching the clock praying the day would hurry along.
As a bonus, you work with a group of people you wouldn’t associate with if you weren’t forced to 40 hours every week.
Bummer. But you have to do it; bills don’t pay themselves and nobody else is offering to pay your mortgage for you.
But that’s all right because you’re an entrepreneur at heart. If you’re reading this, you’re going places. You have your aim set high and you’re strategically building your business after hours and on weekends. Good job.
So, how do you balance everything out so you don’t lose your job, abandon your business, and lose your sanity in the process? Well, I can’t do much for your sanity but I can give you some pointers on how to avoid a few pitfalls.
7 Tips for Your Startup
Check your mindset
Let’s be honest, it’s going to take considerable work to get your business off the ground. Your business is a lot like a car engine in the New England winter; it’s going to take time to warm it up and get moving.
Take the time to prepare yourself, mentally, for the early challenges. Congrats though, you’re among a small percentage of people that are trying to do more than “get by.” Commit to telling yourself:
“Self, it’s going to get rough. I’m going to be tired some days and other days I’ll want to jump on a plane and leave everything behind. But that’s not reasonable. I have to keep pushing no matter what.”
The deeper-rooted your commitment to your project (the more profound your why reason) the better your chances are coming out a winner on the other side.
Plan ahead. Where do you want your business to be in 3, 6, or 9 months? Next year? Write it all down. Read it repeatedly. Then you need to reverse-engineer that schedule.
Create milestones each month, each week, and each day to give you checkpoints. This will make your progress measurable and keep you on track. Establish times during your day, every day, for business-related activities.
The deeper you embed this plan within yourself, the lower the chances are of you waking up and abandoning it (without feeling awful for doing so).
You aren’t Coca-Cola. You aren’t running Facebook. Your ad budget may be $90 for the whole month. No matter, go guerilla marketing on it. With all the online tools, tricks, and communities you can use for free there’s no reason to feel like you can’t compete in your industry.
Think outside the box here. People engage deeply with personalized advertising and marketing. Reach out to the individual and make them an evangelist of your brand. The better you serve each and every person your brand touches, the faster word will spread about how much you genuinely care.
Learn to say “no”
It’s a difficult balancing act for you already. Kids, responsibilities at home, and holding down your job. You’re probably worn out from your core activities let alone running a business.
So why make it harder?
Grow gradually. I encourage you to aim for the stars but are you ready to be there? Could you handle a massive surge in website traffic and paying clients if this dream of yours came true? Probably not yet. And that’s not an insult to your skills it’s a fact.
It’s a lot easier to grow into your desired role than to achieve instant stardom.
Learn to “pass” on business and refer a client to your competitor. Be honest with yourself about how much business you can handle. This isn’t because you’ll be exhausted it’s because you want to offer 100% to each client. You can’t do that when you’re spread thin and pulling your hair out at work because you know you’re neglecting a new client.
Read the rules
What does your job say about moonlighting? If they find out are you instantly canned? Consider having a conversation with your superior about starting a business. Think about what being outed prematurely would mean for your business.
You may not be able to survive on your business income and you may be confronted with a difficult ultimatum (i.e. close your business or you lose your job).
Use the right tools
Work telephones and computers aren’t the right medium to operate your side business. What would be best is if you owned a laptop or netbook and used a smartphone for your business dealings. Use breaks and lunch time to get ahead with your startup. Avoid using company time and property for this.
Keep your sanity
Feel like you can’t take anymore? Have you neglected to set rules and abide by your established routine? If you’re answering phone calls and emails at all hours, losing sleep, or taking days off work to run your business then you need to restore balance.
Be honest with your clients and let them know you may not be available during the work day. They’ll appreciate your candor and you’ll appreciate not losing your mind from pulling double-duty 24/7 at work and home.
What productivity hacks or tips do you have for starting a business while working a day job?
I know some of my regular readers don’t work a traditional job so please share what worked for you to get out of cubicle nation.
Let’s discuss in the comments…