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How to Start a Side Business While You're Still Employed

Sammi Caramela
Sammi Caramela

Thinking about starting a business? You aren't alone. Forty-four percent of people are more interested in doing so now than they were two years ago, according to a study by Wakefield Research for MOO, a design and printing company.

The research revealed that nearly three in four people who work a 9 to 5 job admit they are unfulfilled by it, and therefore want to start a side business to pursue their passions. However, while your new business may consume much of your time and energy, you shouldn't give up your full-time employment just yet.

"Chasing your passion is important but can also be an expensive venture," said Joe Speiser, co-founder of lifestyle media outlet LittleThings. "Before you find yourself in debt, trying to establish a new business, minimize your financial risk by staying employed."

MOO's data found that nearly two out of three millennials are eager to start their own business, and rightfully so— but there are a few important things to consider before diving in. Here are a few tips to keep in mind as you launch your side business. [See Related Story: Part-Time Business Ideas]

Assess your finances

One of the first and most important considerations in your decision to start a new business is your financial standing. Keeping your regular job when you first launch your business does help reduce the financial burden of startup costs, but before you get too far into your business plans, make sure you are, in fact, accounting for those costs with your current salary.

"The business will have a way of knocking on your door, asking for money and attention," said Bob Johnston, founder and CEO of IT executive network Executive Council. "Make sure you have some money set aside to handle startup costs, however minimal, as well as think about potential hurdles that will need to be addressed, [such as] dealing with logistics, vendors and so on."

Once you get your company up and going, you may be able to kiss your current occupation goodbye — but not without patience and hard work.

Andrew Yung, co-founder and head of marketing and partnerships at Pintrill, a lifestyle accessory brand, started his business while still working for a media company, and waited until the right moment to take his company full-time.

"When we launched, I was still working at my full time job and continued to do so for the next year and a half until I reached a 'make it or break it' point," he said in a statement for MOO. "By then, the decision was easy — it was time to turn my passion into my full-time gig."

Check your employee agreements

Depending on what type of business you want to start, you may run into some issues if you've signed an employee agreement with a Check with a legal adviser to help you understand your state's laws about employment agreements before you start your business. If there are any discrepancies or conflicts with your existing agreements, you may need to wait until you're financially able to quit your full-time job before you can officially start your business.

However, in many cases, employers won't mind — and may even support — you having a side venture, as long as it doesn't cut into your regular work. For example, Phil Thomas, founder of fashion startup TEE-REX, works full-time as a senior product designer for MOO while he runs his business on the side.

"I love my role at MOO, but I have also always been passionate about minimal design, high street fashion and dinosaurs, which is why I founded TEE-REX," Thomas told Business News Daily. "MOO allows me the flexibility to follow my passion while also giving 110 percent in my day job. It's not always easy, and it can sometimes mean crazy evenings and busy weekends, but I love being able to run TEE-REX while also supporting MOO."

Respect your employer's time (but don't forget your own)

If you determine that you're legally cleared to start your business while employed at your current job, you'll need to be respectful of your employer's time. Working on your own business during your regular hours won't go unnoticed — if you're trying to keep your job while you get your business off the ground, you don't want to jeopardize that by shirking your responsibilities.

Because you can't (or rather, shouldn't) use company time to work on your business, you must be prepared to pull that time from elsewhere in your life.

"Starting a new business will, most likely, have a major impact on the available time that you can devote to your family and friends," Speiser said. "For the new entrepreneurs that want to start a side business, take a careful inventory of your work-life balance and the costs and benefits of starting a new career path. If the negative aspects outweigh the positive, it may not be the right decision for you."

However, it's important to pace yourself so you don't get overwhelmed and burned out by both working a day job and running a business. This means knowing when to shut off "work mode" and make time for hobbies, friends and family. If you take care of yourself, you'll be better able to take care of your business.

Additional reporting by Nicole Fallon Taylor. Some source interviews were conducted for a previous version of this article.

Image Credit: Rawpixel/Shutterstock
Sammi Caramela
Sammi Caramela
Business News Daily Contributing Writer
Sammi Caramela has always loved words. When she isn't writing for and Business News Daily, she's writing (and furiously editing) her first novel, reading a YA book with a third cup of coffee, or attending local pop-punk concerts. She is also the content manager for Lightning Media Partners. Check out her short stories in "Night Light: Haunted Tales of Terror," which is sold on Amazon.