How to launch your small business without quitting your day job

By Niraj Ranjan Rout

Daymond John, the star of “Shark Tank” and the owner of the popular clothing line FUBU, is a prominent personality in startup circles. He firmly believes that while launching your small business, one should never quit his/her day job, stating his own example of how he turned FUBU into a $6-billion-dollar brand while waiting tables at Red Lobster.

If nothing, a day job gives you security. With more than half of small businesses failing within four years of its inception, it’s a good plan B. The reason people quit their day job is because they find it difficult to balance both – agreed. But, with a little bit of planning and a lot of hard work, you can manage both.

To get your venture rolling with minimal hiccups, here are four ways you can launch your small business without quitting your day job:

Get your ‘timing’ right

When you are in the hustle of launching your small business, the only thing that’s in your control is time. Your small business is not going to become a reality over night, rather, it’s incremental.

How you use your time is going to decide the fate of your small business.

Leaving out your job hours, the ‘free hours’ that you get in a day need to be reserved for working on your business plan. Discard all the activities that take up your free time and produce little or no results.

Activities like watching Netflix, social media browsing (only if it’s part of your business plan), or indulging in Vine videos of cute cats – scrape them all. You need to change your entire time management system.

Quit planning your days, now you’ve got to start planning your weeks. On a Sunday, plan your tasks from Monday to the next Sunday.

Taking away the eight hours from each day (average day job timings), you still are left with 16 hours a day available for other things, including working on your business idea. Of course, you will need to subtract time for sleep and eat and other necessities of life, but even allowing time those things, you should be easily able to devote at least 28 hours a week to your business idea.

It’s a good plan, only if you stick to it. You have to be committed and hold yourself accountable any time there is a loss of motivation.

Procrastinating will keep your small business a distant dream. To beat this mindset and keep yourself dedicated to your weekly tasks, condition your brain. Plan the schedule like an employer, but follow it like an employee.

Create a schedule that gives you ample hours to work on your plan and follow it religiously. Cut down on the leisure side of life, this is what you asked for. So buckle up and work towards your goal.

Make potential customers

Instead of going into the chaotic market to look for customers, and competing with every big name, your small business might find takers at your day job. Test out your small business idea, share it with peers at your workplace. But, be mindful, it shouldn’t hurt your current employers; a conflict of interest should be avoided.

There are many ways by which you can share your idea and in the process attract people, who might become potential customers. Here are a few ways to get some traction to your small business through your day job:

-Feedback – Collect feedback to know what people think of your idea. Probe them on what would they expect from a small business, these insights will help in improving your business model.

-Prototype – If you have a demo ready, then show it to people. You can treat this exercise as a pre-launch for your business. Wherein you can ask customers about their experience with the prototype. This helps in making changes to your product before the actual launch.

Discard your business plan

As someone who dreams of launching their small venture, they see a business plan as their holy book.

However, the truth is that your business plan will become obsolete the minute you finish making it. Most of your research and planning will render insignificant once you start getting actual customer insights.

Your business plan might indulge your vanity, but to get ahead, having to-do list is a much better option. Learn from the market, the customer feedba you collect – make a list of things you need to do and stick to it. Let the business plan evolve, and not hold you back from thinking fresh.

‘Getting s^&* done’ should be the motto. Always have a to-do list.

Use the experience you gain

Why quit your job, when it’s where you can learn and gain some useful experience? Before going full-fledged into your business, take some time to learn the ropes of the trade.

A would-be small business owner needs to be familiar with concepts of management, leadership, problem solving, marketing, finance, and all other business functions.

To get a hands-on experience on these fundamentals, ask for job rotations, or observe how people at your work do it. It’s this free, real world education that helps you shape the edges and the insides of your business plan.

Winding up

Initially, give 40 hours in a week to your day job and at least 28 hours to your small business. Once you start seeing things falling in place, cut down on your work shifts, if possible, and focus more on your venture. Once your business starts operating in a stable fashion, only then should you quit your day job.

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Niraj Ranjan Rout is the founder of Hiver (hiverhq.com), an app that turns Gmail into a powerful customer support and collaboration tool. When not working at Hiver on programming or customer support, Niraj likes to play guitar. Niraj can be reached on Twitter @nirajr.

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