Some of you have asked, ‘how do I balance becoming an entrepreneur while still keeping up my 9-to-5 job?’ For the answer, I go back to a basic question: What are you trying to achieve with your life?
Do you want to live your dream lifestyle before your life ends? If the answer is yes, you have to begin to change the way you use your time so you can focus on creating the business.
We are going to assume you cannot leave your job. That is, you have dependents or other responsibilities relying on you to provide steady income. But you know you can reach an even more reliable income if you were an entrepreneur running your own enterprise.
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So you go into this process with the desire to start your own business. You want to be an entrepreneur and you know you will have to make changes to accomplish your goals.
Next, recognize how much time you have available to work on your business. You say your job is 9-to-5 – that means you are working just over 2,000 hours a year (probably less).
How many hours does that leave you to work on your business each year?
Almost 7,000. (*Check the math at the end if you don’t believe it)
That’s right, you have more than three times as many hours to work on your business, compared to the time you’re spending at your job. So what was that you were saying about working around your day job?
The question you should really be asking is: how do I convert the time I’m using for other activities to work on my business?
#1 – Decide what you want to do with the time you find
First, decide what you want to do with your time. This is critical. If you start looking for time before deciding what you are going to do with it, you could end up wasting the minutes you have available. You need to identify the activities you will be doing to start your business. Imagine you are not going to your job and you have all the time in the world every day to work on your business, where would you start?
If you do not have a business idea: Spend the time researching possible products or services you could be providing to the marketplace.
If you have a business idea: Spend the time researching how you will turn your idea into a business, and map out every activity you need to do to get the business open.
If you already have a struggling business: Spend the time re-assessing how to take advantage of the assets you have already built, and research options for growing your business.
Once you have decided what you want to do with your time, you will begin trading off activities that do not add value to your life for those that will get you to your dream lifestyle.
#2 – Start looking for time/activity trade-offs
You really have to decide what is more important to you.
To start your business, you need time to work on your business, and to find the time you have to trade-off from other activities you do. If you are serious about reaching lifestyle freedom, you have to be prepared to make these changes in your life now.
If you have dependents who will not alleviate you from your financial responsibilities, that is you are keeping your day job to pay the bills, then they should give you back some time.
Remember you are working on getting to lifestyle freedom. Once you’ve achieved it, you will have all the time in the world to do everything you want to do.
To trade-off your time, you should be honest and prepared. If you are in a family where the term ‘family is everything,’ means giving up on yourself for appearances sake, you should have a serious discussion with your dependents.
Begin by envisioning your dream lifestyle together. Maybe they feel like you do. The work grind and answering to others is not the world you want to stay in forever. Get your family to see the value of taking time now to step away from all the false obligations of attending every event – and focus on moving you forward on your dreams. You can do this precisely because ‘family is everything.’ You want more time with them, more freedom to do what you would like to do, and more stability and security in your professional life.
This is can be a very difficult step because we are programmed to believe that we must be ‘social.’ But outside of once-in-a-lifetime activities like weddings (okay some will be twice) where you wish to share the joy of someone you care about; and funerals where you wish to pay your last respects, there are few events that you absolutely must attend. Of course people will have special birthdays or graduations, but often the event is another party with the same set of people, engaged in the same set of conversation, drinking and eating.
You must make a stand for your own life vision, and turn them down.
When you pitch to your dependents that you need time, you should begin with your plan to achieve lifestyle freedom. Short-term pain for long-term gain. The conversation does not start “I’m not going to Aunt Martha’s birthday party because I might want to look at some stuff about starting a business.” The conversation is “I set aside time today to do research on my product offering. I’m skipping Aunt Martha’s birthday party (and no, it’s not her 100th).
By the way, if you think this is ‘mean,’ remember you are the one dreaming of a new lifestyle. Does that lifestyle look like the one you are in now? Or are you in Tahiti during Aunt Martha’s next birthday? Think about it. How many more of Aunt Martha’s birthday parties are you going to attend when you are a millionaire entrepreneur?
You can also look at replacing some of the dependent or friend-related time taking activities with more efficient practices. Maybe you go to the mall every weekend because that’s when you spend time together. But you can do all your shopping online, and have products delivered. Use the time you would normally be driving to the mall, looking for parking and fighting crowds to spend time together. And use the time you would normally be wandering around the mall to work on your business.
Engage your dependents, in the business planning. Kids love to surf the Internet. Let them be involved in doing research especially to look at your potential market and the competitive environment.
Here’s something to ask the kids: go on Instagram, search #[add the name of your product or service]; and tell me all the marketing and social media buzz you see related to my idea or something like this. You can do this for every variation of your product or service, the industry, market, and every social media platform – should keep everyone busy for a while.
You do not have to do this every weekend. You can replace going to the mall, twice a month, and make those Saturday afternoons lifestyle dream time. Make sure everyone has articulated what the lifestyle dream looks like to them so that they know exactly why they are doing the work.
You can also trade-off time at work. If you work in an organization where your time for lunch and breaks is your own, you can do research, make calls, take meetings and prepare documents related to your business during free time you have available at work.
For the same reason that you are not going to attend every family event, you do not have to attend every work excuse to socialize. If your colleagues go to lunch every day to gossip, once or twice a week you can say you have something else to do, and go and find a quiet corner to work on your business.
You should not have any trouble deciding what to do with your time, because you should have mapped out your plan of activities — every step needed to build the business — ahead of time. See #1. You can select one or two activities to work on during the workday or in the evenings and weekends.
You can also change your activities during your commuting time. If you are not driving, you have plenty of options to do business-related activities on the train or bus. If you are driving, you can focus your listening time on audiobooks, podcasts or radio programs focused on your area of business. If you are car-pooling and have no control over the listening devices, you can canvas your carpool friends about your business ideas. If the product or service is not for them, assign them the task to ask other people who may be your potential customers what they think of the idea.
If you think your colleagues will ridicule you for trying to start a business on the side, or ‘rat you out’ to the boss, then you may be forced to sit there and listen to their nonsense talk, which is even more of a reason to get out of that job and get into your own business.
You must always remember why you are doing the work of creating an independent business. If you keep looking for excuses that you cannot find time, or your day job is getting in the way, you must ask yourself how badly you want to be an entrepreneur living life on your own terms.
The real issue here is taking the time you have to repurpose the non-productive hours of your day towards building your business. First, you start by knowing exactly what you want to be doing. Second, you identify where you can make trade-offs with your dependents, friends and your work colleagues.
#3 – Use the time to create your business
You will be thanking yourself as you push yourself closer and closer to your dream lifestyle. Take all the time you have found or created with more efficient practices, and focus on getting where you really want to go.
You know you are going to make changes to reach your dream lifestyle. So make changes now on the road to getting there. You’ll be happy that you did.
*Here’s the math: You have 24 hours in a day for 365 or 366 days that equals 8,760 or 8,784. You work 9-to-5 that’s 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, 52 weeks of the year or 2,080 hours. That assumes you never take a holiday or a personal day. There are 10 statutory federal holidays, and most people get at least 10 personal days. So that’s another 160 hours you are not working. Bringing your total to less than 2,000.
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