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7 musts to make part-time entrepreneurship work for you

Keeping your day job while building your startup is possible if you follow these tips.
By Martin Zwilling |

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Many experts will tell you that you can't succeed as a part-time entrepreneur, as any good startup will require a 100 percent commitment of your time and energy. But not many of us have enough savings to live for a year or more without a salary, fund the startup and still feed the family. Thus I often recommend that entrepreneurs keep their day job until the startup is producing revenue.

Related: Starting a part-time vs. full-time business

For those of you who do decide to keep your day job, here are some pragmatic recommendations I espouse on how to make the most progress in your startup, while simultaneously juggling your other critical family and employer roles. In fact, these suggestions have tremendous value, even if you are dedicated and committed full-time to your new startup:

 

1. Find a co-founder who can keep you balanced.

Two co-founders, both working part-time, are actually better than one full-time founder. You both need the complementary skills, ability to debate alternatives and the tendency to keep each other motivated, that neither could match working alone. One still needs to be the agreed final decision-maker.

 

2. Schedule fixed times and days for the startup, working with the team.

Building a startup is hard work, and requires discipline to get it done. Working part-time doesn't mean working randomly alone. Commit to a regular weekend time and a couple of specific nights per week where you meet with the team and focus only on the startup.

 

3. Get better at saying 'no' to your friends.

Learning to manage your own time is critical. Everyone around you enjoys adding things to your schedule, and reducing their to-do list. The key is learning to say no without offering a long list of excuses, or whining about how busy you are. It's never possible to satisfy everyone, so be true first to your own priorities.

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4. Set realistic milestones and take them seriously.

It's easy for part-timers to make excuses that other priorities caused you to miss milestones, but predictable results and metrics in this mode are even more critical than for full-time members. Use the 80/20 rule to maximize productivity--get 80% outcome from 20 percent of focused efforts.

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5. Select a business idea that has a longer runway.

Some startup ideas are dependent on a rapidly emerging fad, or have many competitors fighting for a limited market. You can't move fast enough on a part-time basis to win in these areas. On the other hand, if you have a new technology, with a patent applied for, you may have more time to get it right.

Related: Passion alone is not enough to open a business

 

6. Prepare yourself for a longer journey to success.

Seth Godin is famous for saying that the average time for overnight success in a startup is six years, even working full-time. Like any startup solution, the first version will likely be wrong, and require one or more pivots. Learn to look for small indications of success to keep you motivated.

 

7. Make learning your full-time vocation.

No matter how many full-time, part-time and family commitments you have, you always need to carve out time for learning new things. Learning is not stealing from any employer, and it prepares you for all your futures. Don't wait for anyone to pay your way to class, or give you time off for training. It won't happen.

The advantage of quitting your day job early is that it removes all excuses, and all qualms from you and others, that the new startup is only a hobby. There is nothing that drives an entrepreneur like being hungry, dependent on the outcome, and seeing mounting debt. Without self-discipline, many aspiring entrepreneurs find that a single focus is the only way anything ever gets done.

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There certainly isn't anything wrong with a regular well-paid job and career, with health-care benefits and a competitive retirement plan. But the entrepreneur lifestyle is still more fun, even part-time.

Related: 7 tips for part-time business owners

 

Copyright © 2014 Entrepreneur Media, Inc. All rights reserved.
This article originally appeared on Entrepreneur.com. Minor edits have been done by the Entrepreneur.com.ph editor

 

Photos from Flickr (Ian Burt and Alex)

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