Career Guide

Keep your job and start a business

10 practical hacks that will help you be your own boss while focusing on a full-time career

A while back I published a post on starting a business while keeping your full-time job. I listed a number of reasons why this makes sense. I even included some practical steps.

But I didnít go far enough. So, letís go farther.

Why? Never before have we experienced such a rapid growth in the number of young entrepreneurs who have begun working for themselves. From app developers to freelance content marketers, business consultants, writers, and start-up founders, thereís no shortage of people willing to take large, calculated risks in the name of creating their own self-employed dream careers.

Whatís more, many of these solopreneurs are very quickly growing their small businesses into the millions.

In a recent study at Bentley University, over 66% of millennials said they have a desire to start their own businesses. Yet, as of 2013, only 3.6% of businesses in the United States were owned by people under the age of 30.

Clearly, thereís a large disparity between the number of young people wanting to be their own bosses and those who are actually managing to pull it off.

Itís not about lack of education. Global access to free and inexpensive online education resources on platforms such as CreativeLive,, General Assembly, and others, have helped drastically cut the learning curves and barriers to facilitate entry in many industries.

With valuable online learning opportunities as readily available as an Internet connection, thereís no excuse for not picking up new concepts and building powerful skills, if youíre motivated enough.

There are three common reasons people donít follow through on starting their own businesses: a lack of confidence in themselves, a perceived lack of necessary resources, and, most of all, a lack of motivation.

Starting and growing a successful business is very difficult. Pulling it off while youíre still employed full-time and bringing in an income for yourself is even more trying.

At the same time, starting a business while youíre still working full-time can also afford you many luxuries and securities that go right out the window when you quit your job to pursue a business idea.

From the obvious advantage of having a steady income to fund your new venture to additional benefits, such as being forced to focus only on what delivers the highest impact and lessening the pressure on yourself, there are tons of positive benefits from launching while working.

But to do that, you need a plan. Hereís the process to starting your own business while you keep your full-time job.

1.Ask yourself how badly you want it

Starting a business will be difficult, will strain your relationships, and will continually force you to make tough decisions. Write a list of all the activities and commitments you have in your life, with the amount of time you devote to each during a week.

Take note of the ones you can afford to lessen your involvement with, and let people know you are stepping back a little to focus on a new project that means a lot to you.

Think of the easy stuff first: time spent watching TV, playing video games, or surfing Facebook and Instagram. The more time you can free up, the quicker youíll be able to start seeing results.

2.Inventory your skills, abilities, and weaknesses

Which skill sets does your new business idea require? You likely possess at least some of the necessary skills to make your business happen, but if you donít, youíre faced with a tough decision. Spend time learning a new skill or outsource to someone else who can help.

Using a skill assessment worksheet, youíll list out every asset and skill your business idea requires and map those needs to what you can or cannot do for yourself right now.

3.Validate your business idea

Fortune magazine recently conducted an intensive study of 101 failed start-ups, looking at the question of why start-ups fail according to their founders. The No. 1 reason most businesses fail, Fortune finds, is a lack of market need for their product as cited by over 42% of the failed companies.

This highlights the need to fully validate your idea and get honest feedback from potential customers before you start building, creating, and spending money. Itís human nature to think that weíre right and that our ideas are always amazing.

Unfortunately, our business concepts and product ideas are often not fully thought out, useful, or even properly researched.

4.Write down your competitive advantage

A competitive advantage is defined as a unique advantage that allows you, as a business, to generate greater sales or margins and, or acquire and retain more customers than competitors. Itís what makes your business your business.

This can be in the form of your cost structure, product offering, distribution network, customer support, or elsewhere in the business.

5 Set detailed, measurable and realistic goals

Without setting attainable goals and realistic deadlines for yourself, youíre going to spend a lot of time spinning your wheels. Itís hard to get anywhere if you donít know exactly where youíre going. In my experience, it works best to set daily, weekly, and monthly goals for myself. It helps me to stick with both the short-term and long-term objectives.

In the beginning, your daily goals are most likely small wins or to-do list type of items, then youíll gradually start hitting milestones as you get closer to launching your business.

6 Map your game plan to launch date and beyond

Itís one thing to set your goals and an entirely different activity to map out exactly how youíre going to get to point B, C, D, and beyond. You need to be particularly proactive with this step. Nobody can do this for you, but you wonít be able to do it all on your own, either.

WeWork co-founder Adam Neumann is a strong advocate of ďalways knowing your plan B.Ē Itís how heís adapted his co-working space communities into a multi-billion dollar business.

Your ability to problem-solve and navigate around your obstacles will determine the level of success of your business.

7 Outsource everything you can

This is all about focus. Look for opportunities to outsource every possible part of your business creation that you can.

Obviously, you donít want someone else planning your goals, road map, or telling you 100% what your product or service should look like. The real point here is that you need to be doing only what you do best.

While it would be great if you could code your own website to test out your online service idea, youíre looking at a few months of dedicated learning time just to get to the point where youíll be able to understand the basics if you donít already command a knowledge of developing the idea.

8 Actively seek feedback

Your goal is to build a product or service that provides value to people. It does no good to build something that nobody wants. Itís important that you seek unbiased, external feedback to make sure youíre building something thatís actually marketable.

Do this from day one and never stop. To find your early feedback group, you want to target people you know will give you only an honest opinion. Reach out to them personally. My go-to group consists of a handful of close entrepreneurial friends and a few mentors I regularly keep in touch with.

From here, you can start to widen your scope for feedback and begin incorporating Facebook, LinkedIn Groups, Reddit, ProductHunt, GrowthHackers, and your local Starbucks.

Almost there! Jeff has two other practical tips that can help you get closer to your dream of being your own boss. Read the full article on or scan the following QR Code.

Jeff Haden is an author of more than 50 non-fiction books and a ghostwriter for innovators and business leaders. To engage with him, e-mail us at