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You hate your day job. I get it. You dream about leaving the 9-to-5 grind behind and launching out on your own on some great new business adventure. Hey, that sounds fabulous. But here’s something you need to hear — your day job could actually be the one thing that can help ensure future success in your dream business.
That’s right. Your day job can fuel your dream job — if you know what to look for and if you know how to use your day job to your advantage.
Here are three ways you can use your day job to help you with your dream job:
1. Learn risk-free.
When you jump out there and start your new business or idea, you’re going to make a ton of mistakes. You’re going to learn things the hard way, and experimenting with a new idea or marketing strategy can mean the difference between success and failure.
Let’s say you’ve quit your day job, and your business is churning along. You read or hear some exciting new way to get more traffic, leads, sales, etc., so you go out and spend however long it takes — sometimes weeks or months — trying to implement that idea. That’s the innovative thing to do, right? The problem is, if it doesn’t work like you expected, you just wasted all that time. If you’re a one man operation, you probably just let the other aspects of your business suffer as a result.
Don’t do that. Instead, learn as much as you can now while you have a steady paycheck and mistakes are non-fatal. Working for someone else might seem intolerable, but it can be your personal free training ground.
Come up with clever new ideas to improve your day job, look like a motivated employee in the eyes of your boss, and learn what works and what doesn’t before you’re in the trenches of your own business.
2. Take ownership.
Part of the reason everyone hates their day job is because they feel like they have no say in the company and no autonomy.
The truth is, you can earn a say in your company and earn autonomy by stepping up and taking ownership. In other words, make your day job your own personal project. See some things you want to change? Then change them. Maybe you’ve try before and things didn’t change, but do yourself a giant favor and try one more time.
Make a list of everything you see going on in your current job that you would change in a perfect world. Under each item, write down the ideal solution to each of those problems.
If you’re sick of people gossiping, how would you change that? Miscommunication runs rampid? How is that even fixed?
Now make it your personal mission to bring your solutions to your boss, not just the problems, and tell him or her did you will lead the effort in making these changes. After they pick their jaw up off the floor, they’ll be forever grateful that an employee actually took it upon themselves to come up with solutions instead of just complaining about the problems.
Why would you go through all the trouble of trying to solve your current jobs problems? Because your business is going to have the exact same problems. Maybe not right off the bat, but I can almost guarantee you whatever flaws your current job has, is not a new and unique problem. And if every business faces the same issues, you can bet yours will too.
Plus you’ll get an opportunity to be a leader — something else you’re going to have to learn to be an entrepreneur — and by helping your boss out, you’ll build a pretty important ally that will almost certainly come in handy when you eventually launch your new career. Which leads us to the next point.
3. Build relationships.
Relationships are an important part of life, but they’re an absolute vital part of being an entrepreneur. Do you want to flounder around for the first year of your business trying to scrape together customers? Of course not. Then you better have connections.
I had zero connections when I went out on my own for the first time, and I had to kill myself every single day to find enough clients to keep the bills paid.
Meanwhile a friend of mine focused on building relationships with everyone he could before he launched his business, so when he actually opened the doors, all he had to do was call on his friends.
It didn’t make him instantly rich by any means, but he was able to make a living much easier than I was at first. Plus, getting referrals is way more fun than cold calling.
If you did steps one and two, you should be well on your way to building rapport with your boss, who is probably a well-connected person him or herself. So spend your time now cultivating relationships with your coworkers and boss/bosses. You’ll thank yourself down the road when times get tough.
See the big picture.
Chances are, you’re at your day job for reason. Whether it’s money or timing or whatever, there’s a reason you haven’t already left your day job to pursue your dream job or business. Keep that in mind every single day in order to keep yourself motivated. Step back, and look at the big picture every hour if you have to.
As often as it takes, pull yourself out of the here-and-now, and look at the real reason you need your day job — at least in the short term. Then think about the three ways we’ve listed you can benefit from your day job.
Whatever it takes, keep working towards your dream, but don’t let your ideas and daydreams get in the way of what needs to be done now in order to make you successful in the future.
As bad as it hurts to work your day job, it’s going to hurt much worse when you jump out and try to start your new business or career too soon.
Dave Ramsey says it like this — don’t jump off the dock until you know there’s a boat waiting for you. And learn as much as you can while you still have a dock to stand on.