Founder Mindset and ProductivityGetting Started

Top 7 tips for starting a business outside of your day job

So you have a business idea and you want to kick it off, but you're still working?

We've put together 7 tips for starting a business when you're still busy with work.

1. Create accountability

Find people to hold you accountable to whatever your next steps are.

That might be handing in your notice, launching a website, or running an event. Plan to do it by a certain date. When you make promises to people you're much likely to make it happen, and the more public you make the promise the better.

Try friends rather than family. If they're a good friend, they'll want to see you succeed at your goals and will be encouraging and kind.

Tip summary: set a launch date for the first part of your initiative, and invite people along. That way you'll have to make it happen.

2. Develop a routine

Humans love routine, and we use routines to get through everyday life (brushing teeth before bed, making breakfast, drinking that first cup of coffee).

Make a goal to spend 1/2 an hour or 1 hour per day on your goal. Try and carve out a time you can manage, such as early morning, or after dinner. If you stick to it long enough, it will develop into a habit.

If you're feeling demotivated, try the 5 minute rule used by Instagram CEO and co-founder Kevin Systrom - “If you don’t want to do something, make a deal with yourself to do at least five minutes of it. After five minutes, you’ll end up doing the whole thing."

A small amount of work often is a great way of moving forward consistently with your passion.

Tip summary: spend a dedicated amount of time each day on your initiative.

3. Find the things that give you energy and inspiration

Watch inspiring videos, listen to podcasts or music that motivates you and do things (e.g. meditating, journaling, exercise) that help get you into the state where you feel compelled to work on your side project.

You need these things to snap you out of the 'same-old, same-old' routine of your job, and into the state where you can work on your new project, idea, business.

Tip summary: watch, listen, do the things that motivate you as triggers to start working on your idea.

4. Make friends who are on the same path as you

Having like-minded people in your life is a huge help when trying to start something new.

Push yourself to grab coffee with people who inspire you, and who are also perhaps working on a business. It's a great way to not only stay motivated but learn new things you can apply to your own business.

Tip summary: grab coffee with inspiring and interesting people to help with motivation.

Tip #5: Know why you're still keeping your day job, and when it's time to quit

Be honest. Do you really still need to be working in your job, or are you just there because you haven't worked out a plan for the next steps?

If you're there because you need money, that's a different story. You do need money to start a business and we would seldom advise someone quit a job and start a business with no savings. If you earn a good salary and still manage to get quality time to work on your business, then that's great.

Make a plan. Work out when you can quit based on how fast the business takes off and how much money you have saved.

If you're in a job that doesn't pay well and sucks a lot of time and energy, it's probably worth considering changing jobs to something that pays more and/or doesn't require as much time (e.g. contracting).

If you have some savings and you can afford to quit and work on your project full time, we recommend doing it. You will move a lot faster and learn a lot quicker when you can devote all your time and energy to one thing. Make sure you keep an eye on your runway though, so you know when you get to the point where you need to find some supplementary income.

Tip summary: Make a plan to quit or reduce your hours so you can spend more time executing on your dreams.

6. It's okay to detach from your day job, and attach yourself to your new vision or purpose

It takes energy to work on side projects, so the more energy you can save to spend on working on them the better. If you get home or wake up exhausted, it's going to be hard to find the motivation needed to make progress on your idea.

Go to work and leave at the time you're paid to be there, and nothing more. Don't take on extra project work, just do what's necessary. Getting promoted is probably no longer a priority for you if you're really serious about starting your own business.

Tip summary: Say no to things you don't have to be doing at work, so you can spend more energy on your business goals.

7. Learn how to start with the help of events, workshops, programs or mentorship

While you're still earning an income, it's a great opportunity to invest in learning opportunities so you know what you should be focusing on.

Invest in yourself when you're making money, so buy books, do courses and pay for mentors while still in your day job. These things will help you to move forward faster by focusing on the right things and making informed decisions.

Take a look at our New Zealand Startup Ecosystem Map which lists a huge amount of resources for aspiring entrepreneurs.

Often we're stagnated by a lack of certainty around the next steps, so do what it takes to help learn. Remember that if you've never started a business before, there is a lot to learn. The earlier you can make a start the better.

And of course, you can check out all the programs, workshops and events we run at Mum's Garage.

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