September 10, 2020

Sparklehood tips to build and launch a startup with a full-time job

Giulia Piona
Co-founder & Head of Marketing

In the last article we saw that building and launching a startup with a full-time job has its pros and cons and that strong motivation is required too. Now, I would like to give you some suggestions on how to face all the difficulties you will encounter.

First of all, you must be aware of whether your work agreement allows you to run a parallel business. So, go and get that contract you signed and probably did not even give it too much attention because you were getting a job (don’t feel guilty, I have done the same). You should be sure that your employer/company does not have any objection. Also, most likely, you have signed a non-compete clause in your employment agreement. Such a clause in India is governed by the codified provisions of section 27 of the Indian Contract Act, 1872 (“Contract Act”), and you can read more about it here.

I think practically there should not be any issue, but be sure you check it before venturing in this new journey. 

The first set of suggestions revolves around time:

  • Routine becomes fundamental when you want to work on a startup while holding your full-time job. There is no right answer here. What works for me, might not work for you. This is why, it is up to you to figure it out. For example, the most common practice is to work on your startup in the evening after work, but maybe your productivity is higher in the morning. You might therefore consider waking up earlier and doing startup work before you go to the office. Or maybe, you notice your mind has a hard time transitioning from work to startup and you need a break between the two. Maybe some sport, yoga, meditation, or even a nap will help you restore your energies. Really, just try to find what works best for you and what helps you give your max every day.

  • Have a clear schedule. By this I mean that you must be able to set weekly tasks to achieve your goals. At the end of the week, you will see what you have been able to achieve. The difficult part is to be able to prioritise your tasks. Since time is scarce, you must channelize your energy in the tasks that will bring you closer to meet your goals.

  • Planning is good, but planning too much is bad. You have to organise your time efficiently and dedicate time to set your weekly tasks, but execution is key. Do not over plan, because you would be losing time. What matters at the end of the week is tasks completed and not how good you were at planning.

  • Building a startup while working full-time means sacrifice. It means less time to spend with friends and family and less time cultivating your hobbies or whatever you love to do in your free time. In the case you have hobbies, you should start considering sacrificing them. It is all a matter of priorities: if you decide the startup is your top priority, other activities can be set aside in order to gain the most precious resource: time. Also, another thing you should sacrifice is holidays. Holidays are the perfect time to really put extra work in your project because you will finally have all hours in a day to make consistent progress. Do you have unused holidays/leaves? Use them! 

  • I believe the work environment is very important. You should choose the right location from where to work on your startup. Maybe, you might consider finding a co-working space close to your office to minimise time spent commuting. Now, in the light of Covid, you are probably working from home, so just be sure to have a place where you feel at ease.

  • Time is scarce and you cannot do all alone. The first solution is: find a co-founder if you do not already have one. Another alternative if you do not possess specific capabilities, is to hire someone full time, or to outsource. For example, you can outsource the building of an App or of a website. I would recommend it only if it is a one-time action, otherwise it might become very expensive and also quite complicated. The key point is that you should keep what you do well for yourself and leave the rest to someone else.

By the way, seriously think about finding a co-founder, because a research conducted by First Round Capital shows how teams outperform solo founders by 163%. We at Sparklehood help you find the best match

So, you have finally started building your startup, but do not forget you still have a job! How to deal with it? Here are some practical suggestions: 

  • Do not mix your office work with your startup work. Allocate precise time to each of them and do not do startup work while you are in the office. I say this because it is not ethical: your employer is paying you and therefore you need to keep your work performance high, even if you know you might eventually quit the job if all goes according to the plan. Also, I am sure you do not want to lose your job, yet. Do not walk on thin ice.

  • Have a clear plan on when to quit your job. Build some kind of timeline. You might want to quit your job once you have some market traction and the idea is clearly validated. The easiest way to decide when to quit is to have your main metric linked to the decision. For example, you might decide to quit once you reach 1000 customers.

  • How to behave in your workplace? Should you communicate your project to your boss? It might really depend on your relation with him/her, but my advice is to be very transparent. You should tell your boss and team about your side project, while ensuring them that you will not compromise on your performance. I believe maintaining a good relationship with your workplace might be gainful for the future of your startup also.

As last, I would like to give you some general advices which always hold true: 

  • If you have a family, it is always better to have them on board because they will understand what you are trying to do and will support you during hard times too. Be sure to clearly explain to them what your projects are and keep them updated on the progress.

  • Do not be afraid to ask for help and maximise your resources. Do you know someone who might help you out? Do not hesitate to contact him/her!

  • Ask yourself: “How badly do I want it?”. Only if it is the thing you really really want , will you have some chances to succeed. Motivation is key, and you will only work hard enough if your startup becomes your priority.

  • Last, the most important one: just work your ass off.

I really hope these suggestions might help you in becoming more productive and efficient during your startup journey. One of our objectives, at Sparklehood, is to help you meet your weekly goals by making you accountable, because we understand it might be hard to stay on track while having a double life. Be sure to check our program, we would be very excited to get you on board and help you succeed!