LC027: Launching a Startup with a Full-Time Job

launchpeer - July 3, 2018

Today’s question:

Today’s question comes from Shaheen. I’m ready to move forward with my startup idea, but I want to keep my full-time job at the same time. Should I tell my boss what I’m doing or just keep it to myself and make sure I don’t work on my startup at my day job?

Jake’s answer:

A lot of founders go through this same scenario at some point. They are ready to move forward with their startup but they still want or need the stability of their full-time job. So, what are your options?

Be Open and Honest

When I worked at my previous job, I told my boss what I was doing and tried to get approval before I got started. They were making software as well (even though they wouldn’t have been a competitor) so it was best to be honest.

I told them what I’d be working on and that I would only work on it outside of business hours and wouldn’t use company resources to do the work and they approved me to do that work. That made me feel much more comfortable to move forward because I didn’t have to worry about hiding anything. That would make your job as a founder even tougher.

As a founder of a company, I’d much rather have my employees tell me they are working on something than trying to hide it, even if it’s not something competing with what we are doing. Not every employer is going to be supportive, but it’s still important to be as upfront as possible.

That way, when you go out to get your first few customers, it will be easier to do so since they most often come from your existing network. It becomes tough to hide that when you’re trying to recruit customers.

You can also find support at your company if you’re open and honest about what you’re working on. There are people around you that can help you solve problems or even become future employees but you lose out on that if you’re not open about what you’re working on.

If They Don’t Approve

Check on your hiring documents. Make sure you understand the guidelines of your non-compete and check to see if you even need their approval to get started. If you don’t need to explicitly get their approval, then start it anyway. If you do have some legal obligation to get approval, then you can either quit or put it on hold. You can always go out and find an employer that would be more supportive as you continue on your founder journey.

Remember, if you quit your job and your startup fails, then you can always go back to working for a traditional employer. Chances are you can get another job for around the same pay if you need to return to work.

When you have a full-time job, it’s important to know when it’s the right time to quit and focus on your startup full-time. Put some general rules in place as a guideline. Know how much you need to make or how many customers you want to have before you think you can be viable on your own. Write that goal down and stick to it.

Remember, if you quit your job and your startup fails, then you can always go back to working for a traditional employer. Click To Tweet

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