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 Dax Dasilva, founder and CEO of Lightspeed.
I started coding at the age of 13 and was equally passionate about art and design. When I established my own software startup, I was proud to say that my company was infused with as much culture as it was with code. But through the years, there was still so much more I wanted to do on the artistic side of things. So when my office outgrew its space, I took it as a sign that it was time to bring my passion for the arts to life.
Today, I’m the CEO of Lightspeed, a software company with more than 500 employees, whose mission is to enable small and medium businesses to thrive by providing industry-leading, cloud-based commerce solutions. I’m also the founder of Never Apart, a nonprofit cultural center in Montreal. My goal with Never Apart is to break boundaries and fuel positive cultural change through the arts. I’ve been able to successfully run both Lightspeed and Never Apart by tapping into that startup state of mind. While Never Apart may not read like a traditional startup, my partners and I intentionally run it like one. Embracing the idea of balance—rather than trying to separate these two endeavors—has been a big part of our success. Here are the lessons I’ve learned so far:
Don’t let passion be just a “project”
In the early days of Lightspeed, I spent hours coding, sometimes until 4 a.m., because I was so passionate about what we were building. I had the same mentality when launching Never Apart last spring. When passion is your driving force, it’s easy to make the right sacrifices and do more with your time than you think you can. Design has been key to Lightspeed’s success, and embracing my longtime passion for art and culture has reignited my role as the CEO. The response and support has forged an even deeper connection to my team, local businesses, and creative communities.
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Maximize resources and celebrate diversity
Startups are often built on the foundation of a few people whose diverse talents are maximized. In the early days of Lightspeed, I trusted my team to pitch in on everything. Similarly, at Never Apart, we celebrate the opportunity to wear many hats. In just eight months, a small, diverse team has transformed a 12,000 square-foot office into a unique cultural hub. Although our paths have been quite different, we are all firmly connected to our unified vision, which allows us to make decisions efficiently and effectively.
To stay connected, we adopt the lean methodologies and tools used at tech startups. Slack and WordPress allow us to work from multiple places and share content, which helps us take Never Apart’s culture global.
Don’t separate the two—lean on what you know
We’re quick to think that in order to successfully run a business and a new startup, we have to separate the two. However, it’s crucial to integrate the inspirations of your new venture with the part of your day-to-day that’s full of practical experience, creativity, and new ideas. As a result of working with creatives across both business and the arts, we’ve been able to better understand how to add value for Lightspeed’s tastemaker customers, who are bringing vitality into their communities and are using our products to better understand their business.
Having two full-time jobs isn’t for everyone, but if passion is what drives you, it can be one of the most invigorating experiences. The key to being equally present is not simply a balance of separate pursuits. It’s about embracing the ways they complement each other while tapping into the expertise you already have to help them both rock.