Being an entrepreneur isn’t as glamorous as some make it out to be. For the most part, being an entrepreneur takes hard work and perseverance. A 60-hour workweek is not unusual by any means. According to a study reported by Real Business, entrepreneurs work 63 percent longer than average employees.
If you have a regular job and are moonlighting as an entrepreneur, chances are you’re working even harder. As you grow your dream company while supporting yourself with a steady 9-to-5, you have to be careful. You don’t want to make mistakes or burn out before you even get your company off the ground.
Here are four pieces of advice for those braves souls who are moonlighting as an entrepreneur.
1. Don’t break any rules.
You probably signed some documents before you started working at your company. You want to take a good look at these to make sure you’re not violating any contracts with your current employer by running a side business. For instance, your company may have had you sign a non-compete agreement, which would prevent you from working for a direct competitor or stealing customers during or following your employment.
So, you want to check your employment contracts, like workplace nondisclosure agreements, to ensure your startup isn’t violating any rules. If in doubt, consult an attorney. It will be worth it to avoid a legal headache down the line.
2. Automate what you can.
If you’ve read about other entrepreneurs, you’ll quickly realize that they have crazy schedules. For example, Justin Zhu, CEO and cofounder of Iterable, a growth marketing startup, says he works from 11 am to 5 pm, and then from 9 pm to 3 am.That’s 12 hours a day. It could be more if he didn’t manage his time so well. If you’re a regular employee by day and an entrepreneur by night, time management is critical to your success. You can’t be wasting time on things that could be automated.
No matter what job you have and what side business you manage, you can automate certain tasks. To see how you’re spending your time (and where you’re wasting it), you have tools like Toggl to help. To keep track of your company’s finances, you can use accounting software like Quickbooks and Xero. To manage projects and tasks, you can use an app like Trello.
The overarching point is that, in the digital age, nearly everything can be automated to some degree. Use technology to save time. This way, you’ll have more time to focus on what matters: Doing well at your day job and growing your dream business on the side.
3. Prepare for success.
What will you do if your business takes off like a rocket? Will you be ready to jump ship at your current company? These are questions you should start pondering when you first start moonlighting as an entrepreneur.
One thing you should do early on is incorporate your side business. Not only will this make you legitimate in the eyes of clients, but incorporating makes it easier to raise capital, protects your personal assets and provides tax benefits. Getting yourself set up as an LLC or S corporation will help you get out ahead when the time comes to go all-in on your business.
There are many other steps you can take to prepare for a future where you’re running your own company full-time. For instance, you should also write a thorough business plan. The Small Business Administration (SBA) has a good outline to follow. A business plan will come in handy when you have to pitch investors or lenders later in the game.
Also, make sure to protect intellectual property associated with your side business. From applying for patents to filing trademarks, you want your creations secure. This way, when you do push the operation into another gear, you won’t run into any unnecessary hurdles.
4. Take care of yourself.
Again, you’re literally working two jobs at once. If you don’t treat your body right, not only will you not perform well, but you could fail at your entrepreneurial endeavor.
Start by eating healthy. Jennifer Cohen, a fitness expert who helps executives boost productivity through wellness, says “food can directly affect everything in our bodies, from our mood and energy levels to our memory.” This is why she recommends eating foods that gives us physical and mental power, like spinach, beets, walnuts and chia seeds.Don’t forget about getting quality sleep. While it may feel like you don’t have time to get the suggested seven to eight hours, sleeping is crucial to maintaining your body and mind. Other successful entrepreneurs do. Rand Fishkin, the founder of Moz and renowned SEO expert, says he makes a point to get eight hours every night. He sleeps from 1 am to 9 am.
When it comes down to it, taking care of yourself will help you stay in a better mood. And that will make you a better employee and entrepreneur. After all, researchers from the University of Warwick found that happy employees are 12 percent more productive on average.
Winning as a moonlighting entrepreneur.
Many entrepreneurs start out by moonlighting. It’s the only financially feasible path to building their own company.
As long as you take the necessary legal precautions, manage your time well and are ready when success comes for your side business, you should be able to handle everything. Just remember to take care of yourself — and take time for yourself. If that means a hotel party, go for it!