How to start a business along with a full-time job

How to start a business along with a full-time job

I'm lost

So you have a great idea and you want to start your own business. But you are confused about where to start. You are confused about too many things to figure out before starting your business. You are confused if you can manage expenses if you quit your job.

Since you do not understand every little nook and corner of your business in detail, you believe you are not good enough to pursue your own business. You give up before even starting!

Guess what? You can start your own venture with all these challenges. You can start your own venture even with a full-time job.

I am writing a set of posts that will help you start your business step by step. The first step begins here. In the first step, you will learn how to understand your business segment better by doing research and talking to fellow entrepreneurs. You can refer to the index of all posts stepwise here.

start your business with your full time job

Most successful entrepreneurs did not write a resignation letter out of the blue. No entrepreneur thoroughly knew everything about their business when they started off. Has there been a guitar virtuoso who knew how to play the guitar when he started?

Just like the expert learned by picking up the guitar, reading lessons, practicing chords, making mistakes and improving over time, entrepreneurship involves learning your trade the same way. Starting your venture is not an inbred quality successful people are born with.

If you have the determination to succeed and pursue your dream for many years, learning how to start a business is not as difficult as you think it is. Effort is the only key ingredient you need. With effort over time, learning the important aspects of business happens as a natural cycle.

Most aspiring entrepreneurs give up before starting due to the two common questions bothering them.

Question 1. How can I handle expenses if I quit my job?

no money

I am going to surprise you with the answer “You do not have to quit your job to start.” Stop thinking so. You can start working on your idea along with your full-time job.

Setting up a business requires groundwork which you can start with even while you have a 9-5 job. You can do the necessary research, talk to entrepreneurs in the same niche, plan your budget, complete the legal formalities, plan for the launch, etc while working full time.

Question 2. Where do I start?

Confused about starting a business

Are you confused about where to begin? Don’t you worry. Most people are confused about where to begin learning how to start a business. I will present some ideas for you to begin with.

We have spoken about Adam before. Let me reiterate the story of Adam. Adam has a full-time job as a manager of Quality Analysis. He enjoys cooking and does not miss cooking some amazing food for his friends and family every weekend. When time permits he even takes orders to cook for small house parties of a size less than 10. He has always wanted to run a successful restaurant.

I will tell you the story of how Adam went from a regular full-time job to follow his dream. Before I start with the story, I want to tell you, your journey will be different from Adam’s. You will encounter different problems and what ideas fell flat on the face for Adam might work brilliantly for you.

I am here to help in any possible way. So if you are facing any difficulty in any area, leave a comment or send an email via the contact form.

Exercise: How to Start your Business

you need the force to be with your business

If you do not feel excited already, I would like to let you know that you will start your venture right now just like Adam did. Yes, you read that right. Not next year, not next month, not tomorrow, but right now!

You will learn a little on how to start a business in the next 30 minutes. Buckle up and put on your seat belt. We are going on a ride.

Let us get back to Adam and learn from his story to start your business.

1. Be clear about your goal

clarity of mind

Adam knew about his passion for a restaurant but nothing beyond that. He did not know any details about how to start a business. His knowledge was similar to a kid playing football in school. If he had to become a pro player, he had a lot of ground to cover.

Adam knew he had been planning to begin his venture for a long time. He was not able to quit his job due to the bills he had to pay and a family he had to take care of. But he realized, if he failed to start, he was starting to fail already.

Out of the blue moon, he decided to start the very same day. He made up mind to not quit his job yet, but to begin working on his idea on a daily basis, no matter how small the progress.

As a first step, he wanted to add more clarity to his goal. He answered these 3 questions which helped him determine what dream he would chase.

He decided to begin a continental restaurant in the next 9 months. He realized his passion for food was because he loved innovating new recipes and it gave him immense joy when his orders received positive feedback. The choice of continental was because he had a wide range of recipes for the cuisine and the people he cooked for enjoyed it the most.

The Lesson for you from Adam’s story:

The first step towards beginning your journey on your venture is to be clear. You must be sure about where you are headed and why. Stephen Covey has explained the concept the best in his best selling book “7 Habits of highly effective people”. He says “Begin with the end in mind.”

If I ask you “What is your dream goal and why?” can you answer the question right-away or do you need to think? If you can answer now, you are clear already. If not, your first step would begin with clarity on what you want to achieve.

Though the question might seem simple, the answer not always is. The answer to the question can seem like an experience of driving in dense fog. You know you are moving but you cannot completely see where. Having a clear road in terms of your goal helps you make faster and effective progress. Answer these 3 questions to help you determine what dream will you chase.

Do not hurry about this activity. If you need a week or two to arrive at the answer, don’t fret. Thinking this through early will prevent loss of effort and energy. After a few months of effort, if you feel your heart is not really into the idea, you will run out of fuel faster than a high-end sports car running on high speed.

2. Starting with learning:

learning and planning a business

All Adam knew was to cook for a small bunch of people. He was as clueless as an archer shooting an arrow with a blindfold. He had no idea about managing supplies, he had no idea of cooking for a large number of foodies, he had no idea how to decide the pricing. He accepted his lack of knowledge and decided to tackle them one by one.

Adam pulled out a sheet of paper and noted down the areas he had knowledge of and areas he had to learn. He broke the sheet into 3 columns – No Clue, Know a little, Know well. He started filling these columns with his current expertise. (The numbers will be explained shortly)

No Clue:
  • Planning the budget – 1
  • Legal formalities for starting a business – 3
  • Cooking for a large crowd – 1
  • Arranging supplies – 2
  • Hiring employees, waiters, and chefs – 3
  • Deciding the pricing – 1
Know a little:
  • Location for the restaurant – 2
  • Marketing the restaurant – 2
  • Setting up the interiors of the restaurant – 2
  • Promoting on Social Media – 2
  • Giving customers a good experience – 1
Know Well:
  • Unique continental recipes – 2
  • The dishes on the menu – 1

He marked each of them in what he believed was the right order of importance, 1 being most important and 3 being least. For example, planning the budget was a top priority, so he marked it 1. Hiring employees needed attention only when the restaurant neared the opening date, so he marked it as 3.

Next, he picked up the priority items he had no clue about and decided to start doing something on them today.

The Lesson for you from Adam’s story:

Now that you have your idea in mind, do not fear not knowing everything. I do not know everything either. Nor do the successful people. Sure, they know more than you and me, but no one knows everything necessary about the business. In fact, the successful businessmen started just like you and me with bare minimal knowledge.

So now you will do what Adam did. Pull out a sheet of paper and write in landscape mode(width greater than height). Use 3 columns – No Clue, Know a little, Know Well. Write down 5 items at least in the first 2 columns – No Clue and Know a little.

If you like, use the internet but do not spend more than 30 min on research for now. This exercise is to get your own ideas out of your head.

Every famous musician you know hit the fame because they sang their own songs. No musician is successful forever singing songs composed by others. Similarly, do not replicate what others have done based on research. Therefore, you need to stop your research at 30 minutes. Your business should speak your ideas and not of another business.

3. Cover the gap by learning:

learn how to start your business

Adam wrote down his 3 items of focus separately.

  • Cooking for a large crowd – 1
  • Planning the budget -1
  • Deciding the pricing – 1

He decided to look up online and find all the answers. After spending hours typing certain terms in google and reading a ton of articles, he was more confused. At the same time, he gained some understanding too.

But what he found online was nowhere close to enough because every article on the internet was different. The cuisine determined the cooking time, the location and demand affected the pricing and the budget to start varied from as cheap as a used 10-year low-end car to as expensive as a high-end yacht. He did not know how to narrow down to the right information.

All of a sudden he remembered his friend Matt knew a restaurant owner in the same city. He called up Matt requesting him to put him in touch. Matt gave Adam free advice on the risks involved with a venture and all the ways it could fail even though he never had a business of his own. After Adam convinced him that it was only research, Matt put Adam in touch with Ben, who owned a Thai Restaurant about 40 miles away.

The Lesson for you from Adam’s story:

With a few items to focus on, start thinking how can you learn more about it. Reading online gives you an idea but the input can turn out too convoluted due to the details. The information will vary due to location, demand, size of the business, nature of business and so on.

A good way to gain input is to arrange a discussion with an entrepreneur who has done it before. Mind you, many of your friends will give offer free advice too.

Know whom to listen to and whom to ignore. Listening to advice on how to start your business from a person who has always had a 9-5 job is plain stupid. It is like a priest advising couples of a secret to a happy marriage.

4. Take input from others who have done it before:

take input from other entrepreneurs

Adam was keen on researching well because of the experience of a cousin of his. His cousin called Sam thought he knew everything and considered his own ideas the best. He believed all the other entrepreneurs got successful by luck and he was the real thing. He believed he knew what the user wants.

When he finally started his business, Sam realized, what he thought the customers want did not sell at all. The customers wanted something different. He went through tremendous losses and had to shut down his business. Sam still considers the users stupid for not buying his amazing product but Adam knew Sam was the foolish one.

Adam was keen on not repeating the mistake made by Sam. He wanted to learn how to start a business the right way and avoid obvious mistakes.

He found the right time to call Ben, the Thai restaurant owner. Ben agreed to meet Adam on a Sunday morning when the crowd at his restaurant is usually less. Adam woke up early on that Sunday to meet Ben to gain his inputs.

He was slightly worried about looking stupid with his questions when meeting Ben. To his surprise, Ben turned out a lot more welcoming than Adam expected. He expected Ben to spend minimal time, out of compulsion just because Matt put them in touch. But Ben showed a keen interest in the idea. He provided a ton of valuable input by stating the mistakes he did when he started, the ideas that worked and the lessons he had learned.

Ben did not mind providing tips to Adam because he lived 40 miles away and far away from his circle of audience. Moreover Ben was thrilled to hear someone embark on a journey similar to what he had started 8 years ago. After a long 2 hour conversation, Adam and Ben decided to head back to work and decided to keep in touch.

Ben also provided Adam with the contacts of other restaurant owners whom he could talk to and gain more insights. Adam decided to talk to a total of 5 restaurant owners including Ben from the contacts he collected.

Adam asked Ben the following questions:

questions about business to entrepreneurs
  • What basics should I know when starting off in the food industry?
  • How do you handle a large number of hungry people waiting for food during lunchtime from 12 – 2 PM?
  • How do you determine the cost for a dish considering all expenses like rent, salary, supplies, etc?
  • Given my idea what is the budget you suggest I start with?
  • How many and what kind of employees are required to get the restaurant running for 7 days a week?
  • If you were to start your business again, what mistakes would you avoid?
  • Name one thing which helped grow your business the most
  • What is the average monthly expense and profit of a restaurant of my scale?

The Lesson for you from Adam’s story:

Do not over-estimate your intelligence and ideas. If you ask another entrepreneur in the same industry for input, most people will be glad to answer your questions. You have to make sure you are not a competitor and you must also ask the right questions.

Do not ask questions which are none of your business like “How much do you make in a month?” Some entrepreneurs are not comfortable sharing those numbers. At least not until they know you well. Also, knowing how much he makes has nothing to do with your business. Instead, you can ask his input on how much you need to invest and how much is a good profit for you in a month and so on.

Refer to the questions Adam asked Ben and come up with similar questions. Most successful people will share their knowledge with enthusiasm because you are respecting them by treating them as experts. Most successful people will also provide you with contacts of other successful people who can provide your inputs. So, do not forget to ask for contacts.

Conclusion with an exercise

You now know a little more than before about how to start your business. It was not that tough now, was it?

Your first exercise towards starting your venture involves putting a careful step forward. You do not want to walk looking up at the sky and step on a pile of dirty mud, do you?

start your business exercise

Do your research today. If you put in the effort for an hour, you will notice some progress. This little progress will pump you up to do some more.

Talking to some industry experts will give you a tremendous head start. Their inputs will help you avoid many mistakes you would commit otherwise.

Target 30 min of initial online research to first get your gaps and priorities set. Aim to talk to at least 5 industry experts on a similar business area as yours for whom you won’t be a competitor.

Compile a set of questions for each one of them. Be honest about needing help to begin and most successful people are usually pleased to help you out if you respect them for their expertise. Do not undermine their inputs or act like a know it all jerk. Even if they tell you something you already know, acknowledge their inputs. Do not say “Yeah, I know.”

In no time, your knowledge will improve enhance, your skills will advance and your motivation will glow with radiance. And the best part: you do not have to quit your job for any of these.

How to start your business with a full time job

Start today!!

In the next step, let’s discuss how do you go about the money required for getting your business off the ground. There are various advantages and disadvantages of funding your business with your money vs the money from others. The next article will cover the important aspects of the investment.

I would love to know what knowledge you gained by talking to a fellow entrepreneur and how did you feel. Drop a comment or an email to let me know. Many people find a lot of challenges in doing research. Do not hesitate to ask me for help over a comment or an email. I will be thrilled to help.

 

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The Story of Adam

Meet Adam.

Adam has a full-time job as a manager of Quality Analysis. His long term goal is to run a successful continental restaurant.

Adam knows that his job is killing himself every day, yet he decides to hang on and put up with disappointment he is dealing with on a daily basis and his manager whom he hates from the bottom of his heart.


He enjoys cooking and does not miss cooking some amazing food for his friends and family every weekend. When time permits he even takes orders to cook for small house parties of a size less than 10. He has always wanted to run a successful restaurant.

Adam meets Ben, who is a fellow entrepreneur in the restaurant business. Ben has the experience of building a chain of successful restaurants. Adam seeks Ben's advise on his venture and Ben is happy to provide him with a lot of valuable inputs. 

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