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The Evolution of a Side Business to a Full Time Business

I opened my laptop this morning with the intention of writing about how to make it easier to get work done for your side business when you already have a successful full time job.

Instead, I got distracted by an article I stumbled upon published by 37 Signals, a business that is in business to make it easier for you to get work done.

The reason I was distracted is because the article discusses exactly what I wrote about in my blog post titled Why You Shouldn’t Quit Your Full Time Job. The article resonated with me very much and I was glued to it and the numerous subsequent comments left by its readers.

The article starts off with the following summary:

Some have doubted our advice that you should hold on to your day job and start something on the side. They argue building a business requires such persistent effort that you need to devote all your time to it to do it right.

And it’s true that building a business requires plenty of time and effort. But the idea that you need to quit your job to do it right is misguided. If you quit your job, you shift everything.

You don’t gain time, you lose it. You put a shot clock on your business. You box yourself into a position where you have to profit immediately or the whole thing goes under. You’ve got to make it work now or give up forever.

I cannot agree more with this.  Quitting your full time job will only inject an unnecessary sense of urgency in you, and not allow you to enjoy building your side business because you will be so focused on the end result.

There are exceptions to this.  For example, if you are already financially well off and have a nice cushion to fall back on, you may consciously decide to take a step back from your profession to pursue your side gig.  Most people however are not in this boat.

For those people, keeping the full time job and experimenting with a side gig is the best way to go in my opinion.  I talk about several reasons in my post Why You Shouldn’t Quit Your Full Time Job to support this opinion.

One of those reasons is that your career will give you the financial security and peace of mind while you work on your side business.  This relieves you of the tremendous pressure and the sense of urgency that comes when succeeding in your own business venture is a “do or die” matter.

Here is what 37Signals has to say about that:

Hanging on to your day job gives you a longer period of time to build your idea. It lets you give a sustained effort over time. There’s no get rich quick option. You build it slowly, one day at a time.

Yes, you need to find time to do both your side business and your normal gig. But there’s always enough time if you spend it right. Instead of watching TV or playing Grand Theft Auto, work on your idea. Instead of going to bed at 10, go to bed at 11. We’re not talking about all-nighters or 16 hour days – we’re talking about squeezing out a few extra hours a week. That’s enough time to get something going and then keep giving it gas.

Right on the money indeed.  If you have been following my blog, none of this information should be news to you.

Your side gig needs time to evolve and grow into a meaningful operation, at least from a financial perspective. The best way to achieve this is by giving your side business time to grow naturally or organically.

Small but consistent achievements over time builds momentum that your business needs to pick up and grow to the point where you can justify devoting more time and resources to it.  At this point, you may decide to hire help, or quit your job and dedicate all your time to your business.

Not everyone wants this however. Many are happy in their careers. They are successful and have a lot to look forward to. A side business is a means for them to get more out of life, and to provide as a safety blanket if the need ever rises.

37Signals mentions that quitting your job to focus on your side gig is like “putting the cart before the horse”, and I agree.  They further conclude by saying that “think how evolution happens in nature. There aren’t huge leaps. Things incrementally change. That’s the model to shoot for”.

I am glad I stumbled upon the article.  It further reinforces my beliefs, and serves as proof of validity to the premise of it.

Readers: Where do you stand on the decision spectrum?  What would you advise to someone looking to start it up on the side? What has worked for you in the past?

Here are more of my thoughts on running your own side business here.


Previous: Are You Unhappy With Your Job? Turn It Into Happiness!

Next: Are You Short Changing Your Employer When Working on the Side?

4 Responses to “The Evolution of a Side Business to a Full Time Business”

  1. Lauren says:

    I would definitely advise the same thing you have stressed in this post and in a few previous ones. It has worked for me and many who I personally know.

    Sunil, you have an excellent message for your readers, and I am perplexed why more readers are not interacting with you through blog comments.

    Love your blog – keep up the great work

    • Sunil says:

      Thank you Lauren for the reinforcement indeed. I am relatively new to blogging. I have been online in many forms for years and have had great success. This Blog is a perfect capstone of my journey, and it cannot be successful without participation from folks like yourself.

      Welcome and glad to be of service…

  2. Hey Sunil, I totally agree that keeping a full time gig allows you to build your side-gig without the extra urgency.

    Another unexpected bonus that I notice is that when I’m busy and productive I tend to make better use of all my time (productivity breeds more productivity). Sometimes, when you don’t have a lot to do, it’s easy to get lazy and you end up doing lessl. Funny phenomenon, but true!

  3. Sunil says:

    Right on the money – free time is the Devil’s playground they say. I agree with the funny phenomenon you bring up Coach

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