Today, I want to show you why you shouldn’t start your business fulltime and how this enables you to be more successful.
Creating a better work-life balance, while ensuring extreme resource-efficiency.
Like all successful early-stage startups who are scrappy & extremely efficient – you should be too.
Misconception #1: You Don’t Need to Start Your Business Full-Time
If you ever thought about founding a company or developing & selling your own product, you might have thought:
Yes, I will quit my job, and start this business. I’ll put everything I have into it, and make it work!
I certainly did – a lot of times. But if you haven’t founded a company, yet, you might have had another thought afterwards which sounded more like:
Hm… But I have my rent to pay, my student loan… How can I take care of my family if I don’t earn enough in the beginning?
And it is totally reasonable to be afraid of failing or losing what you already worked so hard for.
However: You don’t have to give up anything in the beginning.
Don’t risk everything at once and put it all on one card. That behaviour might sound bold, but it’s also plain dangerous. You are not only risking your business, but also your livelihood.
And that’s something you should simply avoid. And there are fewer benefits from going fulltime than you might think.
Misconception #2: Starting full-time will not increase your chances of success. It’s not about running the fastest, but farthest.
When my co-founders and I started our first startup, we didn’t want to start our business part-time. We wanted to see results and move quickly. For us, that meant to go in fulltime and spend every waking (and most sleeping) hours on the startup.
We thought that we needed to put in all our time to speed up the process. 100 % focus on our business, so that our day-jobs wouldn’t distract us or slow us down.
But reality was different.
Going fulltime in on our business meant that we were burning through our savings on full speed. Our runway, the time you have before you go bankrupt, became much shorter compared to if we had kept our day-jobs – at least part-time.
We started worrying about our runway and became stressed very quickly. No matter how many hours we worked each week, things didn’t move quicker. We were still early in the problem validation and product ideation phase after pivoting away from a previous idea.
And we started to realise that the most important thing to do in this phase, talking to customers, is a painstakingly slow process.
You search for potential customers to talk to. You reach out. And wait for a response.
After a week you might hear back and schedule a call the week after.
And you repeat this process at least 30-50 times to talk to enough potential customers to verify that they have a real problem and that you might have a solution for it.
This takes time, but it can’t be sped up very much by working full-time.
You can start on the weekend, and later reduce your working hours to parttime, allowing for workday meetings, and more time put into your business.
But at the same time, you won’t need to worry about going bankrupt next month.
And if you are working in your targeted industry, you might even get to know potential customers and more of the problems they have.
And there is one more positive thing about being time constrained.
Misconception #3: You won’t have enough time to do everything, if you are working full-time on your business
So, this one isn’t wrong at all. The truth is you will never have enough time to do everything.
Building a business is the long game. There will always be a next step, and you don’t play to win, but to be able to continue playing. So don’t get overwhelmed by a never-ending to-do list, but don’t expect that to-do list to ever become empty either.
In the beginning of a new business, there are a few things which are by far more important than most others, including:
- Customer research & interviews
- Problem validation
- Customer research & interviews
- Solution validation
- Customer research & interviews
- Marketing your non-existent product
- and more customer research & interviews
Most other things are not needed in the beginning, slow you down and waste your resources. These include, but are not limited to:
- bureaucracy & taxes aka officially founding a company,
- hands-on development of your product,
- designing your website,
- creating new business cards,
- or even buying a new domain name to use it for a new email address.
However, there is a simple trick to force you to focus: Restricting your available time.
When you have less time at your disposal, it becomes much easier to focus on the more important tasks at hand. And you will still be able to drive your business forward with the same speed or even faster, as you invest your available resources more focused.
Take this newsletter: If I had seven days per week to write this newsletter, it would take me 7 days a week to draft it. Researching, reading other articles, watching YouTube videos and TED talks, “being active” on social media, and to eventually create a draft which hasn’t gotten any better through rewatching TED talks I saw 5 years ago.
Instead, I have at maximum half a day per week at the weekend to prepare this newsletter.
This is only possible by focusing on extremely specific topics, putting aside focus time to draft the article, and removing all unnecessary fluff.
You don’t have to become a fulltime founder right from the beginning to start a business.
In fact, you shouldn’t.
- It is simply not necessary to start fulltime.
- Starting full-time will not increase your chances of success.
- Working fulltime will increase unnecessary waste of your time.
Instead, take it slow and prepare for the long run. Get to know your target audience in parallel to your day job. Maybe even get a day job embedded in your audience. And then, slowly shift your focus from your day job to your business, in accordance with your current situation and the time needs of your business.
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