Opinions of contributing entrepreneurs are their own.
Did you know that at least 45% of Americans have an afterthought? For many people, these side issues are passion projects that they hope to turn into a career. Starting a business while holding a full-time job elsewhere is a normal path for many aspiring entrepreneurs, but it can be incredibly challenging.
Combining a day job, personal life and a brand new company can lead to burnout and possible failure if you don’t approach it proactively and carefully. Here are some tips that have helped me the most in building my business and sustaining a career.
Related: Looking for a groundbreaking way to showcase your expertise? Why a book is the “best business card in the world.”
1. Create two separate workspaces
When personal and professional lives are intertwined, it becomes easy to lose focus and become overwhelmed. Even though your side project is a business, it is still personal and should be treated as a whole separate from your day job.
To ensure that your business development doesn’t spill over into the company’s working hours (or vice versa), spend some time creating two different work environments. You can do this even if you only have one desk or one computer.
One of the easiest things you can do is create a separate user account on your computer dedicated to your personal project or corporate work setup. This is a great first step of separation if you can’t afford to have a separate computer or desk for your Personal business.
Then try using different communication channels for each job. If your full-time team uses Slack, use Google Chat or RocketChat for side project communication to limit the temptation to switch channels. The same goes for task scheduling: if you use Asana for one task, use Jira or Backlog for the other and make sure you actually use them. Don’t keep tasks in your head; this will distract you and lead to “just one short break” to work on your other job.
This kind of multitasking leads to more stress and makes you perform worse for both tasks. Our brains work best when we have a single focus (for example, we work alone or develop only our side issues), so doing this will make you more effective overall.
Plus, creating this separation makes it easier to switch gears and get into “creative mode” when working on your business. You are no longer just someone else’s worker bee; now you are in control. This can provide an extra boost of motivation that you will need in the long run.
2. Stay motivated by asking for feedback on your business ideas.
For better or worse, burnout is only part of the process when you build a business and keep a full-time job. Average, 77% of employees say they have experienced burnout at work, and 63% of entrepreneurs say they have experienced burnout. If you’re both an employee and an australiabusinessblog.com, it’s almost inevitable, no matter how much you love what you do.
There’s a lot of good advice out there about taking intentional breaks refresh your body and mind or building rest periods into your daily schedule are valuable strategies. However, sometimes entrepreneurs need more to stay motivated.
My best advice for overcoming burnout and staying motivated is to get constant feedback from clients and colleagues. If your startup is still in its infancy, your first customers are usually super loyal and love to stay in touch. They like what you do and want to support you in any way they can. Calls, chats, and messages can be extremely motivating, whether positive or negative (we need both!).
Positive feedback gives you courage and lets you know you’re doing something right. After all, everyone needs someone who believes in it. Even getting negative feedback isn’t a bad thing; it should just push you to keep working and making your product better.
It’s also extremely helpful to find maker groups and get opinions, support, and advice from other founders, especially those who have already been down this road.
Another thing that helped me stay motivated was paying myself a small amount of money for the work I did to develop my business. Even if it’s just change, it helps get you in the mindset to invest in your business and be rewarded for your work, creating a positive feedback loop.
Related: Boost Your Solopreneur Business With These 3 Proven Tips
3. Outsource whenever you can.
Once you have some momentum, freelancers can be valuable assets to lighten the workload and progress faster. Even hiring one freelancer for 10 hours a week can make a huge difference in how quickly and effectively you can scale.
Let freelancers help with things like writing social media posts, developing a website, preparing taxes, or handling administrative tasks. These tasks can take up a lot of your time without helping you achieve your goals. Moreover, if you are in the “no-budget” phase of your business operations, you can even call on AI. Using Midjourney or other stable distribution tools for logo creation or ChatGPT for social media copying can be a huge help. Even if you have to work with a freelancer to polish up the results, you’ll still save a huge amount of time and money.
Make sure you keep important competencies to yourself. This includes hiring extra help, overseeing finances, or speaking with clients. Anything that directly affects your reputation should always go through you.
Outsourcing to employees through platforms like Upwork is simple, legally secure, and non-binding, making it perfect for the early stages of building a business. It also gives you access to a global talent pool, simplifying the hiring process. That reports LinkedIn 83% of small business owners who hire freelancers appreciate how much they help “get the job done”, and 64% say using these employees helps build a better virtual team.
The only downside to freelance work is that the person isn’t as passionate or personally involved in the success of your project; they are more concerned with finishing the job and getting paid. However, as long as you set clear goals and expectations from the start, it’s easy to find people on the same page.
It’s important to remember that when it comes to vision and hiring people for senior positions, no one can do it better than you.
4. Establish clear communication channels.
Having a regular day job means you’re not available to interact with your freelancers, contractors, and employees, leaving little time in the evening to get things done. That is why it is essential to set up clear communication channels and set out detailed guidelines, so that everyone can work autonomously and asynchronously.
I prefer methods like setting and tracking weekly goals with project management tools like Jira or Trello, both of which offer free versions. Having explicit instructions and a centralized platform helps everyone stay on the same page and helps with prioritization, accountability, and momentum.
Related: The “stress-free busyness” isn’t a thing
5. Know When to Quit (and How)
Before you start working on your business, it’s important to set a financial goal that indicates when it’s time to quit your day job. Paul Graham popularized the term”estimate profitability“Which means a startup earns just enough to pay the founders’ basic expenses. I think this is a good way to approach quitting your full-time job.
For me, the goal was to earn the same money I was making from my regular job. If I could consistently hit that grade, I knew it was time to quit. Of course, this goal will probably be different if you have a family or other circumstances. It doesn’t matter what the tipping point is, just that you set one and stick to it.
Knowing how to quit is just as important as deciding when. It’s never a good idea to burn bridges when you leave your corporate job, so one of the best things you can do is maintain a “graceful exit” mindset. Start thinking about proactive steps you can take to make a cordial departure on both sides and make sure you (and your replacement) are prepared for a smooth transition. Not only is this good business practice, but it also leaves the door open if you ever need to be rehired.
Business building is a balancing act
They are not called passion projects for nothing. It’s always a challenge to add another full-time workload to an already busy life, and passion is often the only fuel that keeps you motivated to begin with. The good news is that, despite the difficulties, if you learn how to effectively manage your time, stress, and goals, you can change the role of founder and dedicate all of your working hours to a single company that you care deeply about.