Don't Quit Your Day Job to Start Something New

Take the Part-Time Path to Full-Time Success

Several years ago I had a good paying job. But I also had an idea for a new business. So I decided to start it on the side. I called it Brand Connections. I kept my day job and started a company part time I kept my day job and started the company part time. And for two years, that's just how I ran it. I waited until I had enough experience and enough revenue to quit my job and pursue my business full time. Nine years later, my small business grew to be one of the largest companies in its space. Moreover, I was able to sell it for $160 Million, generating a remarkable return for my investors. This story is not unique This story is not unique. For people who want to start their own successful business, the part-time path to full-time success has become an increasingly common business strategy. In fact, based on my own experience and that of other entrepreneurs, I've come to believe that starting part time carries with it major advantages. But I can’t leave my job A majority of the people who I spoke to for this piece said they would one day like to own a successful business, yet they went on to say that "someday" is not today. Why not? First, they cannot leave their employers because they depend upon their salaries. Second, leaving would mean forfeiting two types of equity: financial equity in the form of bonuses and options, and psychological equity in the form of the goodwill built up between employee and management. And third, they don't know whether their business idea will work.

The first step is to make your new business idea – your new part time job While these reasons are all reasonable, they pose a problem: The first two make it impossible to overcome the third. But you can eliminate the first two by realizing that you do not have to quit your day job. You can begin nurturing that "good-enough" business idea now by starting to work on it part time. The moment you accept that starting a business part time is a practical option, your eyes will open to opportunities unseen up to this point. You will start asking yourself, "What new things can I learn today?" "What service or product do I wish was available in the market?" "Who are some of the smartest people in my company and how can I deepen my relationships with them to learn more about this industry?" These questions will enable you to see real and present opportunities you have not previously noticed. Why will your part-time business succeed when so many fail? Because you have taken advantage of the benefits of your day job. Use the resources you have access to at your current job I'm not advocating that you work on your new, small business on company time. I ran my business part time before 8 a.m., after 7 p.m. and on weekends. But the simple fact is that you enjoy a level of access that outsiders do not. Every day, you function in an environment of information and ideas unavailable to outsiders. Your company is an umbilical cord to breakthrough ideas. You are being exposed to presentations, research and suppliers. You are observing the way senior management thinks and how suppliers and competitors function. Access to this information gives a budding entrepreneur a significant advantage over others when it comes to developing a product or service that will fulfill an unmet market need. Test out your ideas in this, the perfect environment Your work environment lets you test ideas risk-free. As ideas come to you, your colleagues serve as a built-in focus group. What would you think if someone approached you with this idea? What do you like? Don't like? With your original ideas shaped by colleague feedback, you can now refine them. Remember: organizations like Robbins Martin, or like mine, are always looking for useful and exciting new opportunities to invest in, and those ideas are coming from people like you.

That's why the smartest pathway to small-business success in our industry is to keep your day job and start part time. It might mean working nights and weekends for a while. But ultimately you'll find that your part-time business can be your key to full-time success.

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