Can I Start an Online Business While I Still Have a Day Job?

Hey everybody, my name is Megan and this is episode 3 of The Bootstrap Boutique.

Thank you so much for coming back this week, I’m really excited to talk about another question I see asked a lot on the internet, which is, “Can I or Should I start a side business while I still have a day job?”

For almost everyone the answer is going to be pretty emphatically, “Yes! You should, you can!” I really think that starting a small side business and the skills and knowledge that you are going to learn in doing that is actually going to make you a better employee for your day job.  So absolutely, you should.

Here’s the thing. While you’re starting your side business, you really cannot afford to neglect your day job.  Why? Well, for one, it pays your bills.  It’s what allows you to have this little thing that you have on the side going.

And it can be really hard when you are starting something new because you’re so excited about it, you’ve got that shiny object syndrome going on where all you want to do is think about your side business but it’s so important that when you are at work, at your day job, that you’re really focused on that.

What I’ve found since I started my side business, which is slowly starting to gather some momentum, is that it’s really making me a better employee as far as my work during the day.  I’m more focused during the day because I know that I’ve got other stuff that I want to work on outside of office hours, so I can’t just kind of get through the day and work on a little here and there and pick up the slack at night, which is what a lot of people do, they bring there work home with them.  I just don’t have time for that right now.  I know that when I get home, I hang out with my son, and I put him to bed, and then it is time to get to work on this other job and not finish up things that I should have done during the day.

So it’s really helped me to focus in and be a more productive employee during the day, which is another benefit to your employer.  That brings me to what I think is a really important point about this, which is don’t work on your side business, or your side job, while you are at your day job.  So that means you may find that you are having to wake up early, you’re having to stay up late, or put in some hours on the weekend.  And that’s ok, that is the time when you should be working on your side business.  No employer wants to hear that you are doing something on the side and its effecting your concentration or the work that you’re doing while your there, and they are paying you to be there, or that you’re doing side stuff as opposed to what again, they are paying you to do.

It’s really important to find little pockets of time during the day when you can do incremental things that will help move your business forward.  An example of that would be your commute.  If you are driving into the office, if you are walking, if you are on a train or a bus or an airplane like I find myself a lot, that’s a great time to listen to podcasts.  That can be either a business podcast, or a money podcast or or just something that has to do with the industry that you want to start your side business in.

You could also do audiobooks, there are tons of great audio books out there.  When I used to have a forty five minute commute one way I got through several really good audio books with what was basically found time, which was really nice.  Another idea I had to share with you is to just keep a little notebook or notepad beside your desk and as you think of things during the day, just go ahead and jot them down.  I think that is a “getting things done” method and what it does is it takes it out of your mind so you don’t have to think about it anymore and you you’ve got it recorded somewhere.  I actually just keep one of these, this is just a little moleskin notebook, that I keep beside my desk.  Its full of notes and sticky notes and things and as I have ideas I just jot them down during the day and then I go through them at night when I get home. It really helps keep me focused and helps keep those ideas flowing.

Also, you could challenge yourself to see “How much can I get done on my lunch hour?” For most people, thats an hour of time where they can do pretty much whatever they want.  So, you know, maybe instead of going out to lunch with your coworkers or your friends or going to run errands like I usually find myself doing during lunch, really try and do something that is going to help move your business forward.  So maybe that is going to open up a bank account for your business or reading over operating agreement documents for your LLC or prospecting for new clients if that is something that applies to you.  Just any little pocket of time that you can find is really going to help you stay motivated, stay engaged and stay moving forward and making progress.

One last thing that I wanted to mention.  If you work in a highly regulated industry like I do, I actually had to get this whole thing approved before I was ever able to take one step with my business.  If that’s not something that is common in your region or your area of work, then that probably seems very intrusive to you, and it is but I’m just kind of used to it because its what I’ve always been around in my working career.  So, you know, I would encourage you to, no matter what it is that you do, or what the requirements are in your industry because maybe they are more lax than that, at least run it by your manager so they know what you are up to.  Not because its necessarily their personal business what you are doing, but most companies do have some sort of moonlighting clause which says that you can be involved in another business, it just can’t interfere with the activities of your company.  You at least want to make sure that your manager is aware for that reason and to know that you are doing this side thing, but its not going to interfere with your day to day duties and responsibilities that you carry out at work.

So in closing, yes, you can and you should have a day job while you’re building up your small business.  If you are really trying to bootstrap, then the best way to do that is to make sure that you still have an income coming in every two weeks.  Also, we’e got no guarantees of success here, we really want to succeed, we are going to work our tails off to do it, but thats still not a guarantee.  You don’t want to let your industry contacts and your job go and find yourself in a really tough position six months down the road or something if it doesn’t work out.  Just make sure that it’s clear as it needs to be that when you are at your day job you are focusing on your day job.  When you are at your desk at home  doing your side business you are focusing on that.  The power of focus is really important here and its something that is really going to help you keep your two duties separate and continue to excel at both.

So thanks so much for joining me this week, I”m glad you came back.  Please make sure that you tune in next week, I just want to do a progress report on what I have done for my business and also share some updates about a direction I want to go.  It’s something I’m really excited about.  I can’t wait to share it with you and I can’t wait to hear about what you have done this week to take action.  So go ahead and leave me a comment below, you can send me an email, subscribe to this channel, tell your friends, and I will see you next time.

Thanks so much.

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