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Starting a Business While Working a Full-Time Job

For every self-employed person, there are a lot more people who would like to be. But many of these people already have jobs, and everyone is busy.

Here’s an idea: if you’re working a regular job and want to be on your own someday, don’t wait for a career break that may never come. Instead, start the business now … without waiting to quit or take a leave of absence.

Why would you want to do this? Two good reasons: opportunity and security.

When you don’t earn all your income from your employer, you create security. You’re no longer completely dependent on a regular paycheck.

Several of the case studies from The $100 Startup talked about how they now went to work at their regular job because they wanted to, not because they had to. This is a huge shift!

A side business also brings you opportunity. Once you begin earning money on your own, even if it’s a small amount, you begin to see what else is possible. With another income, you can have more savings, pay off debt, invest in yourself, or invest in others.

Can you start now—while you still have a job—and pursue some form of self-employment? Yes, and in many ways it’s easier than starting with more time on your hands. Here’s what I said recently for another blogger’s roundup post on this subject.

Starting on the side is an opportunity, not a handicap. When you don’t have time to mess around, every action counts. You’ll have to spend your limited business hours on things that actually matter: product development, sales, and client work—not surfing the internet, administrative work, or the other traps that those with more time on their hands tend to fall into.

So how do you do it?

Starting a business while working another job isn’t much different from starting any other kind of business. The main difference is mentioned above—you have less time, so you have to make it count.

Consider these possibilities—and then take action on at least one of them.

Follow your passion (maybe). To get paid for what you love, you have to focus on how that passion or skill relates to other people’s needs. In some cases you can indeed follow your passion, but in every case you need to focus on making something valuable.

Become an instant consultant. I like to say that there is no consulting school or degree. To begin consulting, you just need a specific service.

Consider skill transformation. What are you good at—and what are you also good at? Many people find success in a side business by learning how the skills they already have can match up with something that other people will value.


Working for yourself is about empowerment and freedom. Many self-employed people say that the freedom they have created through their own efforts is more important than the actual income they produce.

Even if you’re still working a job, freedom is a powerful thing.

Question: Do you currently work a full-time job? Have you thought about starting a business on the side?

Feel free to share your comments with other readers.


Image: Tiger