Building a business on the side isn’t for everyone. You’ll need to sacrifice much even while you learn new things. Creating your own startup is challenging even when you dedicate full-time effort. When you’re working to develop your idea on the side, it’s likely your budget is every bit as limited as your time.
So how can you nail it? You need to change your life. Adopt an action plan to help you apply these principles and stay disciplined until you reach your goal.
1. Sacrifice time with friends.
I know this is hard for a many people, but it’s the reality. You need to reduce the time you spend with others. It’s easier said than done. But it does produce results: When I started limiting the time I spent with my friends, I was able to grow my business faster.
Create a schedule that works for you and treat it as if your life depends on it. Unless you’re completely burned out, don’t change it just to have some fun.
2. Seize opportunity with every minute away from your full-time job.
Lack of money isn’t your only obstacle. Time is the real resource you can’t create. To build your company, you need to be a fast learner and apply what you pick up along the way. The best time to learn? The few minutes here and there, between everyday tasks.
If you have 10 minutes open on your schedule, you have time to take a business call or listen to a podcast.
3. Learn how to effectively manage your time.
Since every minute is precious, you need to make your downtime work for you. Books offer a wealth of knowledge to help you learn about time management. A book waits for you at the precise spot you left off, and you don’t need large chunks of time to see a benefit. Start by reading 10 minutes before bed, while you’re traveling or during those in-between task times mentioned earlier.
4. Increase the intensity of your work.
If you increase your intensity, you’ll be able to achieve more in an hour than others can in three hours. In “Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World,” author Cal Newport outlines a simple formula: Work Accomplished = Time Spent x Intensity.
If you spend 10 hours chugging along at Intensity Level 2, you’ll get the same amount done as if you’d worked for two hours at Intensity Level 10.
The Pomodoro technique is one proven way to ramp up your focus. In fact, it’s how I built my business on the side while studying dentistry.
5. Understand accountability is your best friend.
This is the one change I wish I’d adopted earlier. If you really want to succeed, find an accountability partner or join a mastermind group.
An even better option (if you have the money): Invest in a mentor. If you find a good one, this likely will be the best money you ever spend.
6. Don’t spend money you make in the beginning.
I know you’re eagerly waiting for your business to free your from your other job, but that’s precisely the reason you need to hang on to your first profits — or reinvest them in your enterprise. Just don’t spend it to buy things you want for your personal enjoyment. In this way, you train yourself to stop working for money and make money work for you.
For example, you could invest the money in a mentor, a book or a course to learn something that will help you continually improve. If you want to eat caviar for the rest of your life, you need to hold off spending what you earn in the lean times.
7. Up your circle.
This might seem to contradict my earlier advice to cut down on the time you spend with others. But when you elevate the circle of people around you, you gain more from the limited time you can afford away from your business.
As motivational speaker Jim Rohn said, you’re the average of the five people you spend the most time with. So up your circle. Seek people with growth-oriented mindsets who are building their companies and can help you do the same.
And in the meantime, before you find a mentor or an aspirational peer group? Make “friends” with your idols in the business world. If you want to be like Elon Musk, read his biography, watch every interview you can get your hands on, and listen carefully to his advice. Podcast hosts also can be a source of inspiration and a literal voice in your ear, encouraging you to push forward.