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 Marah Lidey, cofounder of Shine Text.
Entrepreneurship is all about timing, and the only time to build what you've been meaning to is now. If you keep waiting for tomorrow, you’ll be too late.
For those of us with full-time gigs, we often avoid jumping in the startup pool, because even though we know we’re the best person to solve a particular problem, we trick ourselves into thinking we won’t be able to find the time or support to start something on the side.
But that’s often not the case. Starting your own company while holding down a full-time job can teach you how to best structure your time, manage your contacts, and balance your passions.
Before you get started, here are some tips to prep for rocking a side hustle alongside your full-time job:
Wear your heart on your sleeve
The best advice I received from a fellow founder was to let important people in my life know upfront that things were going to get a little hectic. Tell your friends that you may take a bit longer to respond to texts and will definitely be making less frequent appearances at social events. Be frank, open, and honest with bosses, peers, friends, and significant others about what your ongoing availability (and sometimes sanity level) might be. And let your company know that not only will your side project not distract from your work, but that your work product, time management, and creativity are likely to improve.
Create and lean on a strong support system
Whether it’s your partner, friends, family, or mentor, identifying a few folks you know you can turn to during those weeks you feel like giving up will make all of the difference. Make a list of who those people are and let them know you’re going to need them while you undertake this exciting—and sometimes downright painful—opportunity to be a multi-tasking queen.
Figure out what is sacred to you, and keep it that way
There are certain things that make you you, whether that’s Homeland and pizza nights with your significant other, or making enough time to read a new book every month. Make sure to identify what those things are and don’t give them up. You’ll have to cut some unnecessary activities out of your life, but don’t skimp on the stuff that makes you tick.
Find a solid self-care routine
It’s pretty likely that a tired, stressed-out, over-caffeinated version of you is really going to struggle with 6 a.m. pre-work brainstorms or pitch decks late at night. Before you get started with your side hustle, find a sleep schedule and consistent exercise routine to keep you balanced (even if it’s just taking the stairs once or twice a day).
You may need to leave, but don't assume you have to
You may jump into your side project ready to move on and make it a full-time venture, but it's also okay to recognize that what you’re creating on the side may only be a passion project—not something you’d ever turn into work.
My friend runs a budding fashion blog that she could easily make into a full-time venture, but she's a firm believer in keeping her passion project and what she gets paid to do completely separate. Either route is 100% doable, but it’s important not to assume that building a company alongside your full-time job (that you may very well love) is a problem, especially before you even know if it is or not.
Starting a company on top of my full-time job has been one of the most rewarding things I’ve done in my career and makes me realize how incredibly fortunate I am. If you have the opportunity to make the jump—without actually making the jump—I couldn’t recommend it more.
Marah Lidey is the cofounder of Shine Text, a daily text to help working professionals boost their confidence at work and slay their day, and the director of mobile product at DoSomething.org, the largest org for young people and social change in the world.
Read all responses to the Entrepreneur Insider question: How do you run a startup with a full-time job?
Entrepreneurs, Here’s Why It’s Time to Stop Being so Hard on Yourself by Tiffany Yu, founder of Diversability.
The Best Way to Run a Startup With a Full-Time Job by Belma McCaffrey, cofounder and CEO of BOULD.
Here’s How You Manage a Startup With a Full-Time Job by Dani Fankhauser, cofounder of ReadThisNext.
What Every Entrepreneur Can Learn From Elon Musk by Neil Powell, cofounder of Mugnacious.