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Tips From Successful Entrepreneurs Still Keeping Their Day Jobs

Tips From Successful Entrepreneurs Still Keeping Their Day Jobs
Are you cursing every hour between 9 and 5 just wishing you had more time to spend on your startup? No matter how ready you feel you are to start your business, keeping your day job for a while may be a good move.
You want your business to succeed, but focusing on it full-time may not be the answer you’re looking for. If you take the advice of the countless successful entrepreneurs who didn’t take the plunge into full time entrepreneurship right away, you may just be convinced that keeping your full-time gig while your business grows is the way to go. So what do these successful entrepreneurs have to teach us about growing a business while working full time? Here’s what they have to say:

1. Make sure there is a market need

If you look at why businesses tend to fail, you’ll see that the number one reason is that they create things that there is no market need for. It sounds like it should be obvious, but it’s not. It’s actually common for entrepreneurs to believe their idea is great and that it should be a success, only to find out after a huge investment and time and money, that it’s a failure. In fact, Shari Senderoff, who co-founded Career Sushi, a career marketplace that connects the world’s freshest minds with the most innovative companies, says making sure there’s a market need should be priority number 1.

2. Plan

Planning is crucial when it comes to being successful. If you start down one path and find that it’s not quite right, evolving and being able to plan the right move to make next is key. Israel Idonije not only plays for the Chicago Bears, but he also is the founder and CEO of Athlitacomics a sports hero comics line. “Launching a new endeavor while still employed full-time allows you to take your time and test the waters to gauge its potential for success. And most importantly adjust for the next play,” he shares.

3. Maximize your time

Brandon Turner, who is a real estate investor in addition to working a full time job, points out that there are still 72 hours left in the week after you subtract 40 hours for working and 56 for sleeping. Even though you may have other obligations, getting rid of time wasters will still leave you with time to work on your business.

4. Don’t let “no” stop you

Sara Blakely created Spanx – a billion dollar business – while still working her day job. She was successful because she didn’t take no for an answer. Being an entrepreneur means being rejected. But knowing when to persevere, pivot or give up on an idea is key. If everything is telling you that your idea is good and that customers will want what you are selling, don’t let the fact that other people don’t see your business vision stop you.

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5. Be willing to work

David Heinemeier Hansson worked as a consultant before starting his company 37Signals. He warns that even though many entrepreneurs dream of being an overnight success, “building something great takes a long time.”

6. Don’t seek validation

Sara Blakely also cautions against seeking validation, even from friends and family members. In fact, she didn’t tell anyone except her then roommate and boyfriend about the company she was building on the side, despite the amount of work she was putting into it. Though your friends and family may be well-meaning, they may also try to talk you out of your idea because to them it might “sound a little crazy.” But what seems crazy today might be visionary tomorrow.

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7. Focus

Steve Wozniak continued to work at HP while he co-founded Apple computer with Steve Jobs. He stresses the importance of focusing on the problems at hand and getting things done. “If you can’t figure out a way to test something and get it working, I don’t think you’re the right type of person to be an entrepreneur. Entrepreneurs have to keep adjusting … everything’s changing, everything’s dynamic, and you get this idea and you get another idea and this doesn’t work out and you have to replace it with something else. Time is always critical because somebody might beat you to the punch.”

8. Do something you’re passionate about

Leo Babauta is an extremely successful blogger who started his business while working full time. He also has six kids. His advice is to, “Make sure it’s something you’re passionate about — do it because you love it, not just to make money. If you do it for the money, you’ll eventually get tired of it and then you’ll be doing something you hate … and you can only do that for so long.”

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You don’t have to quit your day job to be successful when you start a business. These entrepreneurs succeeded because they knew that in order to make it, it would take more than just more hours. Knowing what to do – and what not to do – with those hours is what will give you the edge.

Featured photo credit: campuspartycolombia via flickr.com

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Jessica Sweet

Career Coach

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Last Updated on August 20, 2019

How to Find New Growth Opportunities at Work

How to Find New Growth Opportunities at Work

Career advancement is an enticement that today’s companies use to lure job candidates. But to truly uncover growth opportunities within a company, it’s up to you to take the initiative to move up.

You can’t rely on recruiter promises that your company will largely hire from within. Even assurances you heard from your direct supervisor during the interviewing process may not pan out. But if you begin a job knowing that you’re ultimately responsible for getting yourself noticed, you will be starting one step ahead.

Accomplished entrepreneur and LinkedIn Co-Founder Reid Hoffman said,

“If you’re not moving forward, you’re moving backward.”

It’s important to recognize that taking charge of your own career advancement, and then mapping out the steps you need to succeed, is key to moving forward on your trajectory.

Make a Point of Positioning Yourself as a Rising Star

As an employee looking for growth opportunities within your current company, you have many avenues to position yourself as a rising star.

As an insider, you’re able to glean insights on company strategies and apply your expertise where it’s most needed. Scout out any skills gaps, then make a point to acquire and apply them. And, when you have creative ideas to offer, make it your mission to gain the ear of those in the organization who can put your ideas to the test.

Valiant shows of commitment and enterprise make managers perk up and take notice, keeping you ahead of both internal and external competitors.

Employ these other useful tips to let your rising star qualities shine:

1. Promote Your Successes to Your Higher-Ups

When your boss casually asks how you’re doing, use this valuable moment to position yourself as indispensable: “I’m floating on clouds because three clients have already commented on how well they like my redesign of the company website.”

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Tell your supervisors about any and all successes. Securing a new contract or signing a new customer should be a cause for celebration. Be sure to let your bosses know.

2. Cultivate Excellent Listening Skills

Listen well, and ask great questions. Realize that people love to talk about themselves.

But if you’re a superb listener, others will confide in you, and you’ll learn from what they share. You may even find out something valuable about your own prospects in the company.

If others view you as even-minded and thoughtful, they’ll respect your ideas and, in turn, listen to what you have to say.

Check out these important listening skills: 13 Powerful Listening Skills to Improve Your Life at Work and at Home

3. Go to All Office Networking Events

Never skip the office Christmas party, your coworker’s retirement party, or any office birthday parties, wedding showers, or congratulatory parties for colleagues.

If others see you as a team player, it will help you rise in your company. These on-site parties will also help you mingle with co-workers whom you might not ordinarily have the chance to see. For special points, help organize one or two of these get-togethers.

Take the Extra Step to Show Your Value to the Company

Managers and HR staff know that it can be less risky – and a lot less costly — to promote from within. As internal staff, you likely have a good grasp of the authority structure and talent pool in the company, and know how to best navigate these networks in achieving both the company’s goals and your own.

The late Nobel-Prize winning economist, Gary Becker, coined the term “firm-specific,” which describes the unique skills required to excel in an individual organization. You, as a current employee, have likely tapped into these specific skills, while external hires may take a year or more to master their nuances.

Know that your experience within the company already provides value, then find ways to add even more value, using these tips:

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4. Show Initiative

Commit yourself to whatever task you’re given, and make a point of going above and beyond.

Position yourself so that you’re ready to take on any growth opportunities that present themselves. If you believe you have skills that have gone untapped, find a manager who will give you a chance to prove your worth.

Accept any stretch assignment that showcases your readiness for advancement. Stay late, and arrive early. Half of getting the best assignments is sticking around long enough to receive them.

5. Set Yourself Apart by Staying up on Everything There Is to Know About Your Company and Its Competitors

Subscribe to and read the online trade journals. Become an active member in your industry’s network of professionals. Go to industry conferences, and learn your competitors’ strategies.

Be the on-the-ground eyes and ears for your organization to stay on top of industry trends.

6. Go to Every Company Meeting Prepared and Ready to Learn

A lot of workers feel meetings are an utter waste of time. They’re not, though, because they provide face-time with higher-ups and those in a position to give you the growth opportunities you need.

Go with the intention of absorbing information and using it to your advantage — including the goals and work styles of your superiors. Respect the agenda, listen more than you speak, and never beleaguer a point.

Accelerate Your Career Growth Opportunities

A recent study found that the five predictors of employees with executive potential were: the right motivation, curiosity, insight, engagement, and determination. These qualities help you stand out, but it’s also important to establish a track record of success and to not appear to be over-reaching in your drive to move up in your company.

Try to see yourself from your boss’s position and evaluate your promote-ability.

Do you display a passion and commitment toward meeting the collective goals of the company? Do you have a motivating influence with team members and show insight and excellence in all your work?

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These qualities will place you front and center when growth opportunities arise.

Use these strategic tips to escalate your opportunities for growth:

7. Find a Mentor

With mentorship programs fast disappearing, this isn’t always easy. But you need to look for someone in the company who has been promoted several times and who also cares about your progress.

Maybe it’s the person who recommended you for the job. Or maybe it’s your direct supervisor. It could even be someone across the hall or in a completely different department.

Talk to her or him about growth opportunities within your company. Maybe she or he can recommend you for a promotion.

Not sure how to find the right mentor? Here’s How to Find a Mentor That Will Help You Succeed.

8. Map out Your Own Growth Opportunity Chart

After you’ve worked at the company for a few months, work out a realistic growth chart for your own development. This should be a reasonable, practical chart — not a pie-in-the-sky wish list of demands.

What’s reasonable? Do you think being promoted within two years is reasonable? What about raises? Try to inform your own growth chart with what you’ve heard about other workers’ raises and promotions.

Once you’ve rigorously charted a realistic path for your personal development within the company, try to talk to your mentor about it.

Keep refining your chart until it seems to work with your skills and proven talents. Then, arrange a time to discuss it with your boss.

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You may want to time the discussion around the time of your performance review. Then your boss can weigh in with what he feels is reasonable, too.

9. Set Your Professional Bar High

Research shows that more than two-thirds of workers are just putting in their time. But through your active engagement in the organization and commitment to giving your best, you can provide the contrast against others giving lackluster performances.

Cultivate the hard skills that keep you on the cutting edge of your profession, while also refining your soft skills. These are the attributes that make you better at embracing diverse perspectives, engendering trust, and harnessing the power of synergy.

Even if you have an unquestionably left-brain career — a financial analyst or biotechnical engineer, for example — you’re always better off when you can form kind, courteous, quality relationships with colleagues.

Let integrity be the cornerstone of all your interactions with clients and co-workers.

The Bottom Line

Growth opportunities are available for those willing to purposely and adeptly manage their own professional growth. As the old adage says,

“Half of life is showing up.”

The other half is sticking around so that when your boss is looking for someone to take on a more significant role, you are among the first who come to mind.

Remember, your career is your business!

More About Continuous Growth

Featured photo credit: Zach Lucero via unsplash.com

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