6 Tips for Developing a Startup Without Quitting Your Day Job, Part 2

(This is the second post in a two-part series. Part one can be found here.)

Here are three more crucial tips in getting your startup to work while maintaining a day job.


I got this idea from my friend Elmer, who  works fulltime in a service firm and manages to have time for a couple of startups. What I’ve seen Elmer do TWICE already is to plan and execute a STARTUP POWER WEEK.

Here are the steps:

a) Take a 5-day Vacation Leave 2-3 months in advance.

Of course, a vacation is the LAST THING on Elmer’s mind, in fact the opposite is more appropriate. The nine days he will free up is the startup equivalent of what Santa Claus does on Christmas Eve – Elmer will be delivering an insane number of items.

b) Arrange and Schedule EVERYTHING on these 9 days.

Think of the work you CAN’T do during your spare time, the work that can only be done during official work hours. These might include: face-to-face selling to a huge client, talking to a big supplier, or market research. Call a ton of people. Get them to commit to dates and times. Cram the 9-days with every strategic item you can get to work on. Yep, work the nights as well for crucial interviews or coffee talks.

Why don’t you just spread the leaves out instead of doing it all in a week? For Elmer, he HAS to do it this way because he works in the US and his startups are local – so he TRAVELS here during the nine-days. He can’t spread ’em. But there is another reason you might want to consider: momentum. I’ve SEEN first hand how Elmer makes these power weeks work – they are EXTRA productive for him.

During this one week, you will NOT be distracted by your day-job requirements (well, hopefully). During this one week, you can go into a deep dive. You can be totally immersed and it can be exhilarating – you get a a week’s feel of the startup life. At the end of the week, great momentum is created which can’t help but get carried over the succeeding ones. Momentum is everything.  

c) During and preceding these 9-days, take plenty of vitamins (oh wow, getting hit by the bug here would be such a choke-job).

5) Find Passionate Co-founders

First order of business: find a passionate, FULLTIME co-founder. There is a MUCH greater chance for your startup to succeed if SOMEONE is fulltime, preferably that someone who will do a bit of sales, marketing, or business development. Can you imagine doing sales for your startup while having an 8-5 job? (think about that for a moment)

I’ve done that. I’ve had to cancel meetings with my startup AN HOUR before the scheduled time because my boss just wanted to talk to me. Quite tough to operate this way.

I’ve now started quite a few startups – some have failed, some have succeeded. What do all the successes have in common? Each of the successes had a fulltime partner. I can’t over-emphasize how crucial this is.

Note: you can HIRE for this full-time need and pay an employee to do it. However, one big factor I’ve discovered is: if you have a fulltime job, you”ll only have a limited time supervising and leading an employee. There is a GREAT chance that not only will your employee end up being unproductive, but demotivated as well. A co-partner, on the other hand, will have equity in the firm. The equity will likely make him much more invested and motivated in building the firm – especially if you aren’t around most of the time.

6) Respect Your Current Employer

Under no circumstances must you compromise your integrity by compromising the interests of your current employer. None.

As tempting as it may sound, you mustn’t allow yourself to do your startup work during official working hours, or compromise the quality of your work in any way because you were too distracted with a startup-related project.

There are practical reasons for this: getting caught (and fired), ruining your reputation (which is crucial when you start selling stuff in your startup), the company confiscating your startup work (whatever is saved in your company laptop DOES NOT belong to you),  and others.

But I think it can boil down to one thing: the golden rule.

Plus, karma’s a bitch.

Do check out this related post about planning carefully for the startup runway.

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