Testing The Waters: Starting a Part-Time Business While Working Full-Time

Heather Penney – So you think you are ready to start a business? You have always dreamed of it, but instead of jumping into it full time, you decide to keep your full time job and just go at it part time until things are up and running. That is actually a great way to get started, as most people are unable to simply walk away from their full time job and walk right into a profitable business they own. In addition, by starting a part time business it is a nice way to limit your financial risk. As always, there are a few things to keep in mind though …

10 Things to Consider

1. Be prepared to work double. Do you need 8 hours of sleep nightly? Do you enjoy restful weekends? Starting a business is time consuming and requires a tremendous amount of work. Combine that pressure with a full time job, personal life, family life  and all the pressure will most certainly double. It is necessary to think a lot, strategize and plan for the business.

2. Gauge the time requirement needed by your part time business. When you are planning the business, consider how much time you will to operate the business, work on your full time job and energy demands on you. At the end of your 9-5 job, can you still think and work on your business?

3. Check whether the demands of your part time business will interfere with your day job. How strict is your current employer? Will you be able to answer emails and phones call during the full time job you already work at? Unless you work for a company like Google that allows employees to spend up to 20% of their time to their personal projects, many workplaces will frown on you for disappearing for hours or using the time they’re paying you for something other than job-related.

Be careful on how you manage your business at work unless you want to be shown the door quickly. And if you can’t do that, then it’s time to rethink your priorities and what you really want to do.

4. Make sure that you don’t use the resources of your day job for your business. Don’t mix things together. Be sure to use only resources you have purchased for your business. You should not ever use any company resources from your employer to help your business. It is definitely tricky, but you should not even use the photocopy machine. In addition, do not provide your work email or work phone number to customers. This will only add to client confusion in the long run.

5.Expect the business to grow at a slower pace. There’s only so much you can do when you only have a few extra hours to dedicate for your business. This limits the growth potential of your business.

6. Be prepared for the stress. If you think your job is stressful enough as it is, starting a business and becoming your own boss is even more stressful. Doing the two at the same time can give you a lot of stress and migraines.

7. Study the manpower policies of your day job. If you value keeping your day job, it is advisable that you review the rules of your employer with regards to work hours, resources and even policies for part time jobs.

8. Consider business ethics. If your part time business is in the same line of business as your employer – and your goal is to try to get their clients – be very careful with regards to the legal and ethical considerations of this approach. This is especially true if you have signed a non disclosure and/or non-compete agreement with your employer.

9. Question of whether to disclose or not. Should you tell your boss about your business? The answer to this question depends on the dynamics, culture, and politics in your day job. It also depends with your relationship with your boss, and how he/she will consider the information with how the business operates. It could go both ways – bad and good.

10. Consider the impact on your personal life. With a full time job and a business on the side, your time left for leisure and family will be significantly reduced. You need to look at how working on these two things will affect your relationships, especially if you have a family.

There’s a lot to consider if you decide to start a business while working in your day job. It’s going to be very tough and you need to be prepared for the long road ahead. Whether you plan to work on both your job and business for the long or short term, be mindful of ethical and legal considerations. But if and when you decide to pursue your business full time, don’t burn the bridge with your employer. You’ll never know if you will need the help of your employer, or whether you could turn them into a customer for your business.


Heather Penney is the Regional Director for the West Central Indiana Small Business Development Center, an organization with the mission of having a positive and measurable impact on the formation, growth, and sustainability of small businesses in Indiana, and to develop a strong entrepreneurial community. Heather can be reached at hpenney@isbdc.org.

Related Posts