The Entrepreneurial Myth: Do You Have to Quit Your Day Job to Start a Business?

One of the most overwhelming notions about stepping into entrepreneurship is the belief that success can only be achieved by quitting your day job so that you can dive headfirst into your new venture.

This myth portrays entrepreneurship as an all-or-nothing game, an image that can be intimidating and misleading. In truth, many successful entrepreneurs (including myself) have gradually transitioned from employee to business owner, balancing their jobs with their business activities until they are ready to make the full transition.

Starting a business as a side hustle gives you the safety net of your current income stream and allows you time to experiment with what works and doesn’t work before fully committing. It’s how I’ve personally started all my businesses. There are a number of advantages to this approach – and I’ll dive into them below.

The Benefits of a Gradual Transition into Your New Business

1. Financial Stability

One of the primary benefits of maintaining employment while starting a new business is financial stability. Having a regular income while you’re building your business base allows you to invest in your business without the pressure of needing immediate returns to cover living expenses.

This financial safety net enables you to make more calculated risks and decisions, which are crucial in the volatile early stages of a startup. Not to mention, this stability is also a huge help for your mental health.

2. Time to Validate Your Business Idea

Starting a business while employed allows you the crucial benefit of time—time to refine your business model, test the market, and validate your ideas. It’s an approach that lets you develop a proof of concept to ensure there’s a market for your products or services, adapting your offerings based on real-world feedback without the desperate need for immediate sales to survive.

3. Opportunity for Skill Application and Development

Remaining employed while you begin your business venture can also enhance your skills in both arenas. The knowledge and skills acquired in your day job can greatly benefit your start-up and vice versa.

Additionally, this dual engagement encourages continuous learning and application of new knowledge and technologies relevant to your job and business.

Strategies for Balancing Employment with Entrepreneurship

1. Effective Time Management

Mastering time management is crucial. Entrepreneurs juggling a job and a business venture need to become adept at prioritizing tasks and scheduling meticulously to safeguard against burnout.

Tools like time-blocking and prioritization frameworks (such as Eisenhower Box) help in managing time efficiently.

2. Leveraging Weekends and Evenings

If you’re still employed full-time, then much of the work on your new business happens at night and on the weekends. This time can be used for critical tasks that require undivided attention, such as strategic planning, major decision-making, or development work that moves the business forward.

I’m also a big fan of getting up an hour early in the morning and knocking out a few tasks on my new endeavors before I switch over to focus on my clients.

Tip for the self-employed: If you’re self-employed and have some flexibility in your schedule, I recommend treating your new business as a client. This can help you mentally manage your allotment of time by allowing you to carve out a few dedicated hours to work on it throughout the week.

3. Setting Clear Boundaries

It’s vital to establish boundaries between your job and your business. This might mean setting specific hours dedicated to your business and being disciplined about not letting one bleed into the time of the other.

Clear boundaries help maintain focus and manage pressure, ensuring neither your job performance nor your startup growth suffers. It’s also a massive help to your mental health, as you still need to make sure you’re carving out time for yourself and your loved ones.

4. Utilize Technology for Efficiency

Tech tools can remarkably streamline operations for your new business. From automating social media posts to managing customer relationships with a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) system, technology can help you stay on top of your business demands without overwhelming your schedule.

We’ve dove into a number of productivity apps in other posts, and we’re always sharing new ones in our membership and our newsletter that can help you save time and be more efficent.

5. Gradual Investment and Scaling

Start small and scale your business gradually. This approach minimizes financial risk and allows for gradual adjustment to the business’s growing demands as you learn the ropes of entrepreneurship.

So many entrepreneurs want to start with their new endeavor as the biggest and best version that it can be. But that mindset can actually hold you back from Step 1… starting. Start small and add more value as time and funds allow. This approach will allow you to build a solid foundation, and it will be much less of a financial burden.

Another benefit to this approach is that you may think you know what your target audience wants. And you may be wrong. Gradually building out your business will allow you the flexibility to change and mold the business to the exact needs of your target audience.

We’ve all heard the saying “build it and they will come,” and that saying couldn’t be less accurate. Instead, build something gradiually and evolve it to be exactly what your audience needs. Have them involved in the process, send out surveys, ask for their advice. In the end, you will have saved money, saved yourself from un-needed stress, and built something truly amazing.

The Psychological Aspect of a Gradual Transition into Your New Business Endeavor

The financial benefits of starting a business while employed are more obvious than the psychological ones. Many people believe that starting a business is supposed to stress you out, eat up all your time, and be a financial burden if it’s going to be a success. But that couldn’t be less true.

Starting a new business should be fun, and you should feel passionate about it. And while, yes, there will be challenges, your approach and mindset can help mitigate some of the psychological pressures and burnout that come with being an entrepreneur. The fear of failure can be paralyzing but knowing that you have a steady income can reduce anxiety and boost your confidence to experiment and innovate.

Moreover, a gradual transition from your current employment to your new venture allows for emotional and psychological preparation, adjusting to a new identity as a business owner and leader, and gradually moving away from the employee mindset. This shift in mindset is incredibly important, and it requires time to develop a vision for handling the greater responsibilities that come with running your own business.

Wrapping Things Up + A Personal Note

Your entrepreneurial story doesn’t have to include drastic measures, financial hardships, massive amounts of stress, or taking enormous leaps into the unknown. Instead, it can be about strategic, informed, and calculated approaches where you don’t have to quit your day job until you’re fully prepared. This pathway reduces risk and provides a solid foundation for your business to grow and evolve organically.

On a personal note, I’ve started numerous businesses over the years, including this one, Women’s Business Daily. My main business is a design and web development agency that I run, Excite Creative Studios, and when I start additional companies, as they become profitable, I treat them as clients of Excite. Until they become profitable, I treat them as startup side hustles that I work on during evening hours, before work in the morning, and on weekends and holidays.

While many of the businesses I have started have been successful, some haven’t been, and that’s okay, too. Ultimately, you learn more from a business that fails than you do from one that succeeds (at least, this is my point of view).

If you’re an aspiring entrepreneur, take heart in the fact you can start and scale your business ventures at your own pace, maximizing the chances of success through careful planning and strategic execution. Far from being a daring leap, successful entrepreneurship can be a thoughtful walk along a well-planned path.

Published in Business, Career, Featured Articles
Founder & Editor | Website

Emily Sprinkle, also known as Emma Loggins, is a designer, marketer, blogger, and speaker. She is the Editor-In-Chief for Women's Business Daily where she pulls from her experience as the CEO and Director of Strategy for Excite Creative Studios, where she specializes in web development, UI/UX design, social media marketing, and overall strategy for her clients.

Emily has also written for CNN, Autotrader, The Guardian, and is also the Editor-In-Chief for the geek lifestyle site