When I was in college, and beginning to get immersed in business and entrepreneurship literature and courses, I remember often hearing sentiment to the effect of, “When you decide to create a business, you need to commit and go all in. Most startups fail and anything less than 120% energy/time/effort and your chances were dismal”. Fast forward nearly a decade and this year, after nearly two years of working an amazing full time job AND running a small business, Hill Gaming Company did $40,000 in sales in the month of February. Along the way I learned that I was not alone in balancing a full-time job and a small business. Iconic entrepreneurs like Steve Wozniak of Apple, Marc Benioff of Salesforce or Jack Dorsey of Twitter, all worked at companies while developing their seminal ideas.
But here is the catch. Like myself, these entrepreneurs worked in roles that allowed for a cross-pollination of skills. For instance, my day job, ONTRAPORT, has me consulting and working with small businesses to help them grow their inbound marketing with easy to use automation tools. When I was developing my first game, Arkon, for my personal business, I took the theory that I had learned on the job, and that I had advised clients with, and I put it to the test as I went about building my brand. My company, having astute leadership, realized that me working on developing a business was a great boon to my skill development, and in turn would lead to us retaining our clients better through the expansion of the value I was able to bring them.
So to dig into the meat of how to execute this effectively:
- Start by having a strong and stable standing in your existing role. Don’t lose focus on the importance of this position for both your financial stability and your skill development.
- If you are going to continue working a full time role, try and make it something where your work performance can benefit from the learning you do in your new venture. Of the many successful examples of entrepreneur’s juggling both, the vast majority are able to bring new insights to their existing day jobs.
- Delegate. When I was growing HGC, we had videographers, artists, graphic designers, packaging engineers, play testers etc. that were all vital in different ways to the businesses growth. They handled work that I was not able to effectively do.
- Use your existing team for support! My day job was immensely helpful in a myriad of ways. First, our marketing team helped me a ton with the fundamentals of advertising, facebook and brand growth. Next, tons of my co-workers came out in force to give us a great day 1 on Kickstarter after our first product launched.