Running Your Startup While Working a Full-time Job

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It shouldn’t surprise you that a large number of entrepreneurs that launch new companies will keep their regular jobs at another company. But why do they do this? Aren’t they biting more than they can chew? They prefer this arrangement because they are able to earn a salary while also focusing on their startup. And while in a perfect world this arrangement is the best of both worlds, it’s actually quite difficult to manage. In fact, it will require a rather delicate balancing act.

And still, in spite of all difficulties, some people manage to do it. But how? Below we’ll try as best as possible to help you learn this all-important thing, that is, running your startup while also keeping your full-time job.

Come to think about it, losing your day job could potentially set you back months or even years. The most important things your job constantly provides you are a monthly paycheck and benefits. In some way, it acts like a safety net that allows you to launch your startup with a sense of freedom that very few entrepreneurs get to benefit from.

It goes without saying that losing your regular job could have negative consequences for both you and your startup. If your recently launched company is not ready to pay for the salary you were receiving at your now former workplace, it’s time to start looking for a new job. And after finding the job, you may need some time to settle in and familiarize yourself with the work environment. Best case scenario, this process could potentially set you and your company back a year – or even more.

If there was only one thing you need to remember, it is definitely this: treat your employer in the same way you would want your employees to treat you, if the roles were swapped. If you actually take into account this simple rule, you’ll do just fine. Still, if you want to learn more about running a startup while working a full-time job, read on:

According to what’s written down in your work agreement, are you allowed to run a business while being employed in the current workplace? In almost every case employees are required to sign employment agreements the moment they start working. And while some agreements are simple ones such as non-compete or confidentiality agreements, others are far more complex, with a lot of restrictions.

If you were required to sign an employment agreement, your safest bet is to have your attorney go over it. By doing this you take all the necessary precautions and be able to determine whether you are allowed to launch a startup without breaking any previous agreements.

If your lawyer assures you that everything is great and you are able to start a company, make sure to keep doing your job during the work hours and the work for your startup during off hours. While this may not come as a surprise to many, you will need to do your job and only your job during business hours. Also, you need to make sure that both the quality and output will remain at good.

As far as your startup is concerned, you need to run it outside the regular business hours. Of course it’s going to be difficult, but it’s not like it hasn’t been done before. You can start small by working a couple of hours before and after work. Also, you could use the weekend to invest more time in your start-up.

For countless reasons, you should never start working out of the blue on your startup during business hours. Undoubtedly, there are some ethical reasons. Also, remember that your current employer is paying for an entire day of work so you need to give them that. Learn to compartmentalize and don’t get your job-related tasks and your start-up tasks mixed in.

In addition, let us not forget about the potential intellectual property issues. For example, tech employees are required to sign waivers that offer intellectual property rights to their employers for each and every concept, app or program they developed during work hours. The last thing you would want is to hand over your business idea to your employer.

In the business world, every company needs to handle urgent situations from time to time and this is especially true for start-ups. So what do you do when you have to deal with some urgent start-up related matters during the work day? You need to handle them during your lunch break. Still, you shouldn’t make a habit out of this. Moreover, the startup matters should not be handled in the office. Do it anywhere else.

Never steal your employer’s clients. Rarely entrepreneurs will jump into another industry when they start their companies. As a matter of fact, they will launch companies in similar areas and industries related to their current employment. And I totally get it. They do this because they can use their knowledge and expertise they have built in the industry. Also, take into account that this can drive a wedge between you and your employer.

If your newly founded company will directly compete with that of your employer, you need to consider quitting your job. It’s the best choice you could make in this instance. Anyhow, employees are required to sign non-compete agreements.

Stealing clients from your employer will certainly damage your relationship with your employer. And you shouldn’t be looking to burn bridges given the fact that this could potentially have legal implications. Employers will almost always go ahead and take legal action against employees who are stealing clients.

In any case, stealing clients from one’s employers has its fair share of gray areas. There are some loopholes but, why would you risk it? However, if you believe this is the best and fastest way of getting customers, you need to consult with your lawyer again. He or she is probably the best person who can offer you the answer to your specific situation. If your startup offers similar services but to a totally different client base, one cannot really say if your startup and your employer’s company are competing.

Never conduct your start-up’s business within your employer’s office. Whether you run your start-up from the comfort of your own home, from a rented space or even from your favorite coffee shop, you should never conduct start-up-related business from your work office. This is an “excellent” way of getting fired.

Also, your employer’s equipment is off-limits to use for things related to your start-up. Similar to the previous point I was trying to make, you mustn’t use your employer’s equipment. You will need to purchase your own office supplies, software, laptops, etc. If the employer catches you using his or her equipment, you’ll soon be sent to the unemployment line.

Your business is just that, your business, thus, keep it to yourself. It’s understandable that you want to tell each and every person that you’re running a company. And most of them will tell this to some other colleagues. Avoid doing this, because it can backfire monumentally. You might want to receive attention but do you really need negative attention? Some of your co-workers could even become suspicious of you while your supervisors may believe that your heart isn’t in it anymore and start to doubt your loyalty to the company. It will never end well. Instead of bragging to your co-workers that you are a successful business owner, do this the right way, i.e. when your start-up is bought by a large company.

Finally, don’t overstay your welcome. Leave as soon as your start-up allows you to. If your company starts to gain traction and enters the growth stage, it will reach a point when it will require your undivided attention and that means that you will not be able to keep your day job while also running the company. If that happens, don’t overstay your welcome. You need to quit your job as soon as possible and work only on your company to take advantage of the momentum.

After you decide it’s time to leave, go ahead and submit your letter of resignation with professionalism. Thank the employer for the opportunity he or she has offered you. Wish all your co-workers well and even offer to train the person who is going to fill in your position. Leaving the workplace on good terms is extremely important. The last thing you’d want to do is burn bridges with your colleagues. They are more important than you think: they are contacts which you will want to have for your entire business career.

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