At Nugget, we talk to 100’s of entrepreneurs, both new and experienced, about problems they face while growing their businesses. One of the biggest concerns we hear from potential founders is this:
“I would love to build my startup, but I don’t want to quit my day job.”
Well, of course, you don’t. You’re likely a skilled developer, marketer, or sales professional making a significant income with bills to pay and perhaps even mouths to feed. It would be crazy for you to quit your job with nothing built.
Your full-time job, however, eats up least 40 hours per week that you could be using to build your business. So how do you ensure that you have food in your stomach while also building your dream business?
In this blog post, we’ll go over five ways you can keep your full-time job while growing your business.
This list will include:
Building a product that you’re passionate about
Concentrate on your key metric
Create an exit strategy
Build a Business You’re Passionate About
We’ve talked about product/founder fit at length on the Nugget blog and for a good reason. Without a real passion for the product that you’re working on, your chances of success will decrease drastically. You’ll either lose motivation and just stop working on the business, look to exit too quickly, or find yourself miserable because you aren’t doing something that you enjoy.
Choosing to build a product in an industry that you are passionate about also means that you likely have a significant amount of domain expertise in that area, which will help you build a better product.
We recently discussed Logojoy and how Dawson Whitfield was able to create a company that was doing $15k in MRR in less than a year. There were many reasons why he was a success, but his ability to build a product 10x better than the competition because of his domain expertise stood out as a top factor in the company’s rise. He was the perfect mix of designer and developer which made him one of the few people in the world to be able to execute the product how he could.
His competitive advantage was his domain expertise.
Concentrate on Revenue
Founders tend to get pulled in all different directions, especially solo founders. Many of us act as the CTO, CEO, CMO and everything in between at our startups, so it’s easy to lose focus of what will move the needle.
What you need to remember is that everything comes down to revenue, and if you’re not spending time on things that are going to bring your startup the most revenue the quickest, then you are wasting time.
So don’t spend 10 hours in a week perfecting your company’s logo, deciding your business’s name, or creating social media accounts. Do spend that time talking to customers, implementing NEEDED features, and generating revenue.
You don’t have a business until you have paying customers. There is no greater validation than paying customers, and nothing will make you believe in your business more than getting paying users.
Block Off Your Time
Time management is a crucial skill for every founder. You have a full-time job, your startup, a family, and a social life to manage. So you NEED a system to keep yourself on schedule and accountable for your time. One of the best ways to manage your time and stay on top of your tasks is with time blocking.
Time blocking is a productivity “hack” that helps you to make the most of your work day by assigning very specific tasks to very specific blocks of time. Time blocking helps you stay focused on the task at hand and plan out your days more efficiently.
My favorite tool to do this is Plan, but you can use any calendars like Kin, Google Calendar, and Sunsama as alternatives. You simply list out your tasks for the day, estimate the time that each task will take to complete, and drop them in your calendar.
Once you’re all done, your day plan will look a lot like this:
This strategy will help you focus on the task at hand and remove unnecessary distractions.
Create An Exit Strategy
As you build your business while working full-time, the one thing that will keep you going until 3:00 am grinding your ass off is knowing that you’ll reach your goal and quit your job. For bootstrappers, this probably means making enough money consistently to cover your cost of livings and continue to grow the company, however, everyone’s goals are different. You need to figure out specifically what you need to do to leave your current situation and work on your business full time.
Ask yourself questions like:
What is the date I’d like to leave my job?
Do I need to raise money first?
How much revenue do I need to be generating (If any?)
How much should I have in personal savings?
Do I need to have my product 100% complete?
Do I need to have cofounders?
Thoroughly think through these questions and answer them. I suggest you then write them down and display them somewhere that you can see every day so you can let these goals motivate you.
Your current employer is paying you to do a job, so you need to honor the commitment you made to them. At the same time, you need to protect yourself so that when your startup is a success, your former employer won’t have any recourse to come after you or your business.
If you are working on an idea that is unrelated to your current employer and you work on it in your own time with your materials, then you should have nothing to worry about. I would suggest checking out any employment or non-disclosure agreements that you may have signed and check to see what the company’s policies are in regards to outside businesses.
If you’re working on something that might compete with, or step on the toes of your current employer, I suggest consulting a lawyer to avoid any future issues.
Achieving your dream of building a business takes a LOT of work. Your dream will test your dedication, courage, and willpower.
Before you start working every night, take a moment to visualize taking the next step, quitting your job, and running your business full-time. Now get to work like you can see the finish line! You’ve got a dream to build.