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Can You Start a Business While You’re Working a Full Time Job?

(Photo by Mike Simons/Getty Images)

The short answer is — Yes, you can. Is it easy? The shorter answer is — NO! But it’s absolutely possible. There are a few things to stop worrying about. Put the following things in your rear view mirror and don’t look back.

I don’t know anything about running a business, I don’t have enough education, no one will buy what I’m selling, I’m not a sales person, I don’t have the money to start, my friends will laugh at me, I’m worried about the economy, it’s a bad time to start a business.

A Good Idea Can’t Be Stopped

Cell phones, DVD’s, handheld calculators, Internet, digital cameras and video, are just a few things that didn’t exist just a few short years ago. Making things better is the magic of America. The freedom to take an idea, improve it and make a profit. Apple, Microsoft, Facebook, Procter & Gamble, Motorola all got their start as home-based businesses.

A newspaper article gave me the idea for my business and I had all the concerns that I listed in the second paragraph above. But I didn’t let little roadblocks like that stop me. I started part time and eventually built it into a full time business. I learned the business as I was building it.

Your Employer

Do not do your business on your current employer’s time. I know it seems innocent to hop on your Gmail account and send out a couple of emails on the company computer. However, you are stealing time from your employer. I doubt you’d want your future employees doing that to you.

If you develop an idea while working for your current employer, using their facilities and information, the idea could just as easily belong to your employer. Check your employee contract or employee manual to make sure that you can separate your idea from your company. This is another reason not to discuss your business with anyone at your current workplace. There must be an indisputable wall between your business idea and your companies business.

Lifestyle Changes

Working a full time job, then coming home and working an additional four to six hours doesn’t leave a lot of personal time for family or friends. Sit down with your family and explain your idea and the process you have planned out to make it work.

I was working 18 hours a day on my full time job and my part time, home based business. To make things peaceful at home, I reserved Sunday’s for family and one night a week was “date night” for my wife and me. This was a structure the family could work with and plan on.

Cash Flow

The knee jerk reaction is to pump all money made back into the business. Unfortunately that won’t help if you have a bad month or longer as your fledgling business grows. You need an emergency fund to offset those little emergencies that are always going to crop up at just the wrong time. It’s not the amount that you put aside; it’s the discipline of doing it every month that counts.

Don’t Leave Your Job Too Soon

Some startup businesses just take off like a rocket. When Costco Connection magazine did an article on me we were selling books like crazy. I thought we were on our way. Then the next issue came out. And things slowed down. New businesses always attract a “feeding frenzy” of customers trying you out. Make sure this is not just a temporary hiccup before planning your going away party.

Some Final Thoughts

It all comes down to risk vs. reward in business. And there are never sure things. Eighty-five percent of small businesses fail in the first five years. Most fail for two reasons. Poor decisions that empty the profit funnel and playing it “too safe.” I’m not suggesting that you throw caution to the winds but most successful businesses faced an “all or nothing” position somewhere in their history.

It might sound strange but when I’m faced with a tough decision I flip a coin. If I’m happy with the result I have my answer. However, after the initial flip, if I want to do the best three out of five, then four out of seven  — I have my answer.

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