Don't sacrifice yourself.
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 Andrew Deitchman, cofounder and CEO of The New Stand.
As someone who’s started a few successful (and a number of unsuccessful) side businesses while running an ad agency of 170 employees and 15 demanding clients, I can tell you that believing you can crush it both at “work” and at your startup is simply setting yourself up for disappointment. Ultimately, you will have to choose between transitioning fully to your startup or staying at your current job and finding someone to run the new business. Until then, here are three bits of advice on how to juggle and defy gravity for a period of time:
Seek points of intersection
The more you can safely and transparently tap the resources at your full-time job to the benefit of your startup, the more efficient you’ll be with your time. This isn’t always possible, but many employers of creative thinkers and innovators will recognize that these types of employees should have ambitions beyond the job at hand and, when asked, will find ways to support them. Ask your boss to help you maximize your potential both inside and outside of the walls and find the support tools, however small, your employer might offer you. I’ve had dozens of employees over the years ask if they could pursue a venture while maintaining their current job. Not only did I say yes, but in many instances, I volunteered my time and other resources with no strings attached to help them live out their journey.
Don’t sacrifice yourself
Stay fit. Get rest. Eat well. Keep connected to friends and family. The best way to avoid burnout is to make sure you don’t sacrifice the little things that keep you sane, be it Sunday family dinners or morning runs. The time “saved” by eliminating those activities is negligible compared to the decline in productivity that comes with losing sight of balance. Of course you’ll be working your ass off, but be pragmatic about how many hours you can devote to what, and remember that taking 20 minutes for your favorite pastime likely makes you sharper and more efficient for hours to come.
Have systems from the start
Treating your startup like an established, organized company right out of the gate sends a powerful statement to those working with you that you mean business. Whether you’re a team of 10, four, or one, implementing basic processes will alleviate stress and eliminate the continual recovery mode that comes from fluctuating between varying states of organization. Whatever is takes to operate efficiently—Slack, Google Docs, etc.—pick your poison and make sure it sticks.
When deciding to remain exclusive to your startup vs. remaining in your current gig, I’d ask you to think about something I call the Branson Scale. On one side of the scale, there are folks who seek the comfort of a 9-to-5 job with a pension, while on the other side of the scale, there’s someone like Richard Branson, the quintessential entrepreneur. Everyone moves along the spectrum depending on his or her own experiences and circumstances. The balance in your savings account, the success of past ventures, the people you have rallying around you, your level of fed-up-ness in your current job—all of this and more can factor into where you fall on the Branson scale at any moment in time. If you feel you’re too far away from the Branson side of the spectrum, you may want to stay put. There’s nothing wrong with that, as it could easily change in short order.