Working a Job while Building a Business [Do’s & Don’ts]


For most people, resigning from a salaried job to start a business is an unaffordable luxury. With bills to pay and a family to support it’s far more sensible to keep the day job and build your new business in the background. This means working a job and then building your business after work. It means working the weekends too and doing this requires energy, focus and prioritisation. It’s incredibly hard. I speak from experience. It involves a delicate juggling act fraught with stress, complexity and occasionally conflicts of interest.

However, there’s no reason why you can’t do it as many of the world’s top companies have demonstrated. Balancing a full-time job with a start-up business can have real advantages. For example it can enable you to set up, gain exposure, contacts and advice while testing your market and commitment to the business that you’re building.

So, here’s my advice (9 tips) on exactly how to do this.

Tip #1. Love your job and fill your head with things that empower.

According to Dr Deepak Chopra, we have around 65,000 thoughts per day and many of them (around 95%) are the same thoughts we had yesterday. And, the day before that. And, the day before that. Automatic thoughts can be positive (realistic and goal oriented) or negative (distorted, unproductive and work against us achieving our goals).

Becoming aware of the power of your thoughts is so important at this stage, for when you fill your head with things that empower you e.g. your dreams, ambitions and thoughts about how you’re going to get there,  you can achieve so much more. However, when you fill your head with resentment and negativity you become dis-empowered, bogged down and drained. It’s vital for you to stop wasting energy and to use your job as a financial cushion whilst you get clear on your business. I suggest following Oprah’s advice:

[box]“By doing the best in this moment you put yourself in the best position for the next moment.” TWEET THIS[/box]

Tip #2. Build a business plan.

Build a clear, realistic time-line for starting your business. And, set targets and achievable goals for all your activities. Remember, what gets scheduled gets done so put it in the diary and make that commitment. By doing this, you’ll maintain focus and avoid frustration.

Tip #3. Get into a routine

Structure is even more important when working at home after the day job. Set out a timetable for the exact time you’ll be starting and stopping work each evening, and then do the same for the weekends. It’s a bit like setting a revision timetable! Once you’ve created your timetable, make sure you stick to it. Don’t take refuge in excuses that allow you to procrastinate and don’t work a minute beyond your finish time. The more disciplined you can be, the better your results will be.

Tip #4. Consider your contract.

Check your contract. Many terms of employment stipulate that you can’t work another job or have shares in another business whilst in employment. However many are only concerned with a conflict of interest and will grant it if approached. If you do this, be sure to get everything in writing from HR. Be aware that once you’ve mentioned this you may be watched more closely, and that the quality of your work may be questioned.

Tip #5. Respect your employer.

Always be respectful toward your employer and deliver a good day’s work. Even if you can’t bear your day job be a professional. Remember: “How you do anything is how you do everything.”

Tip #6. Get support.

Building a business is a lonely affair and it’s great to be able to lean on a friend, mentor, or group. I belong to an entrepreneurial group that meets regularly, plus several groups online that offer round-the-clock advice and support. Having an accountability buddy is another useful thing to do.

Tip #7. Choose your place of work.

When you’re working a job and building a business you have to make best use of the time you have available. It’s therefore essential that you find a place of work that allows you to achieve maximum productivity without distraction. If you don’t like working from home use hotels, or coffee shops that have free wifi. If you’re ok with working from home set up a dedicated space, or work from an outbuilding.

Tip #8. Be professional and avoid crossover.

Never bring the activity of your business into your day job. The two must be kept completely separate. This means avoiding the use of work email, phones and printing in addition to booking meetings and taking calls for your start-up.

Tip #9. Use resources. Take your time, study, learn and implement whilst you have time. Be an apprentice for your business on the job if you can. Ideally try to get some money behind you before launching too. Some recommend having 3-6 months of your salary saved as a safety net.

Watch the tips via video

Now I want to hear from you…

In the comments below, tell me …

  • What your biggest frustration or challenge is with working a job whilst building a business.
  • What top tips you have for dealing with it.
  • Let me know what action you’ll take as a result of reading and watching this post too. I’d love to hear.

Thank you, as always for watching, reading and contributing here. If you found this useful, please share it with your friends!

With love and gratitude – as always,



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Jane Frankland is a successful cyber security entrepreneur, consultant and speaker who has had a diverse career encompassing art and design; business development; and operations. Having held directorships and senior executive positions within her own companies and at several large PLCs, she now provides agile, forward thinking organisations with strategic business development solutions. Right now she is writing a book on gender diversity in cyber security and is focused on increasing the numbers of women in the profession.

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