The Entrepreneur Insider network is an online community where the most thoughtful and influential people in America’s startup scene contribute answers to timely questions about entrepreneurship and careers. Today’s answer to the question “How do you run a startup with a full-time job?” is written by Belma McCaffrey, cofounder and CEO of BOULD.
An aspiring entrepreneur with a great business idea may be ready to quit her job and work on her startup full time. But when she has a family to raise and bills to pay, learning to juggle both a day job and a startup is a must.
I learned some big lessons in 2015 when I launched my first startup. I had a baby boy five months prior and was still working full time. Some may call me crazy, but I’m simply doing what I love and what feels right to me.
Although my schedule is packed and the road has been challenging (I’m in the midst of pivoting my first company, BOULD, to a new career and lifestyle platform), I’m constantly embracing the changes that come with entrepreneurship and my day job. Staying open-minded and grounded in your greater purpose are key, not only to succeed but to avoid burnout. I’ve been through the burnout, and know that running yourself to the ground is counterproductive to growing your business. In order to run a startup while working full time—and more recently as a new mom—I must constantly work on my focus, discipline, support system, and negotiation skills.
Stay positive and committed to create a foundation for moving forward
It’s only when I feel centered that I have those “a-ha” moments that are critical to pushing my business forward. To reach this part of myself, I start my day by expressing gratitude for my family, my job at the Associated Press, and my desire to create and go off on my own. I make long walks a part of my commute so I can listen to books and podcasts, usually about business or spiritual topics.
I’ve committed to entrepreneurship as my life’s work, and I accept the challenges that come with this. This commitment makes the difficult days easier to bear. This mindset shifts the focus from being “so busy” to enjoying the process. If we’re not enjoying the process, then what’s the point?
Cut out the noise and the drama to find the value in your my work
Fear, anxiety, guilt, office politics, and negative talk: These issues are distracting, and they don’t align with my life vision and my commitment to succeed as an entrepreneur. Although they still exist in the back of my mind and I’ve struggled with each one, I remind myself of my greater purpose so I can conserve energy and time.
I also seek and find great value in my day job. Business development is very entrepreneurial. I get to do what I love: Build businesses and partnerships, negotiate, and find creative solutions to drive innovation at a traditional company. I’m always focusing on how I can integrate the lessons here to my own business.
Stay productive through practice
At the end of each day, I schedule the next day’s work in advance. I block out chunks of time to complete projects and keep an A-list and B-list. I focus on my A-list and get to the B-list later. When I’m most rested, I work on the vision and strategy for my company. This allows me to be efficient, while opening the door for moments of clarity that require me to make big decisions.
Don’t do it alone
I’ve created an incredible support system, which includes my husband—who understands my vision and dreams—and my parents and siblings who are ready to babysit when we need them. I’ve also built an amazing network of entrepreneurs, and everyday, I tap into them for support and guidance.
Learn the art of the ask
I have to negotiate with my husband, vendors, partners, boss, and many others to make my current schedule work and to push my business forward. I put a lot of effort into understanding others and their needs, and it’s critical to communicate how my dream will also bring value to them.
This path isn’t always easy. Some days are extremely rewarding, and others are full of challenges. It’s most important to stay grounded in your vision and focus on why you’re becoming an entrepreneur. When you enjoy the process, you can cultivate critical skills in productivity, discipline, and negotiation to get where you want to go a little faster.
Belma McCaffrey is the CEO and cofounder of BOULD, a network of career coaches on a mission to help young professionals thrive, and is the business development manager at the Associated Press.
Read all responses to the Entrepreneur Insider question: How do you run a startup with a full-time job?
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