Neil Patel

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8 Ways You Can Start Your Own Business While Working a Full-Time Job

Almost everyone wants to start their own business.

For most people, owning a business means taking control of their future. There’s a lot of freedom that comes with starting a business.

And it’s easier than ever. Today, we’re living in a golden age of entrepreneurship where anyone can start up a business.

But there’s a problem––full-time jobs.

If you’re working a 9-to-5, you’ve probably found it difficult to make time for anything else besides your job.

It’s probably tough for you to spend enough time with your family or even just have a second to sit back and unwind for a little.

Does all of this sound familiar?

If it does, you’re not alone. I’ve talked with thousands of people who want to start a business but think their job is stopping them.

But what if I told you that your business doesn’t have to stop you?

What if I told you that you could build a business while keeping your full-time job?

And what if I told you that you could do that without going insane or making huge sacrifices?

Believe it or not, it’s all true.

I’m going to show you eight ways to make more time to start your own business even if you’re juggling a full-time job.

These strategies are serious. They’ve been used by some of the best entrepreneurs I know, and I’m confident they’ll work for you too.

1. Make sure you’re legally free and clear

First of all, I am not a lawyer, and I don’t play one on TV.

So this section is going to be short.

But legal stuff is important. So make sure you’re legally protected — doing only things that you’re clear to do.

Most companies have rules against employees having any conflict of interest, and that might include building a business on the side or starting a business in the same industry.

These rules will be mentioned in your contract. If you signed a noncompete or nondisclosure agreement, you should check there too.

The last thing you want is to be fired from your job. When in doubt, read over your agreements and talk with your employer.

2. Find lost time in your day

Whenever I talk to full-timers who want to start a business, their number one complaint is almost always “I don’t have enough time.”

That’s true to a point.

The average employee doesn’t have a lot of free time, especially if they have a family to take care of or other obligations that consume their time.

Vocativ found that married and employed fathers have about 3.6 hours of leisure time a day, while married and employed mothers have about 2.9 hours of free time.

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It’s important that we have some free time every day for recreational activities. I know I need some time to just chill every day or else I’ll start to feel a little crazy.

But look at those numbers again. On average, we have about 3 to 3.5 hours of free time every day.

What are you really doing with that time?

If you’re like most people, you devote the majority of your free time to watching TV.

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But exactly how much do we love TV?

Well, Nielsen reported that the average adult spends five hours a day watching TV.

Think about that: On an average day, we have 3 to 3.5 hours of free time but spend 5 hours watching TV.

Does that math seem a little odd?

Those numbers seem so odd because many people watch TV while they’re at work.

An incredible 64 percent of employees watch some form of online video during work hours.

That’s not the only way the average worker wastes time. Distractions, unhappiness, and sleep deprivation can all cause people to waste literally hours at work.

Check out this infographic to see what I mean.

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The point of all of this?

You could have potentially hours of wasted time in your day.

Even if you feel like you’re always working, you might have enough time to start your own business.

If you can reclaim this lost time, you’ll be able to be more efficient and fit everything into your schedule.

There are two ways to reclaim the lost time.

The first way is to eliminate unnecessary time vacuums. A time vacuum is exactly what it sounds like — an activity that drains time away from you.

There are some things that you’ll need to do every day, but there’s a lot you don’t have to do.

Here’s an example. In lean manufacturing, there are seven types of waste. In Japan, this is called muda.

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Muda means futility, usefulness, or wastefulness.

How much muda do you have during your day?

Often, muda takes the form of little things.

Maybe you wait ten minutes in line every morning for coffee. Or maybe you spend half an hour every day just organizing everything in your workspace.

If you can find the things that are making you waste time for almost no benefit, you can eliminate those things or replace them.

The second way to take back lost time is to stop deliberately doing activities that waste time.

There are some time issues in your day that you just have to deal with, and I get that.

But mostly, we choose to waste time.

It looks different for everyone.

Maybe you spend way too much time on the Internet like 26% of employees do.

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Or maybe you watch Netflix for four hours every night.

I hate to break it to you, but that isn’t productive. (That doesn’t mean you have to give up Netflix. You may just have to cut back a bit.)

Chances are you know exactly what you’re doing every day that wastes time.

Cut back or eliminate those activities. If something unnecessarily wastes your time and doesn’t contribute to your well-being in some way, it needs to go.

You’ll have to be honest with yourself, but on the bright side, you’ll have a heck of a lot more time every day to devote to your business.

And you don’t need five extra hours a day to start a business. Even if you can only spare an hour, that’s an entire day every month that you can spend on your side gig.

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Whether you have one hour or four hours, you can find some extra time in your day to salvage and use for productive activities.

3. Work on your side gig without losing focus

Does this sound familiar?

You finally carve out some time to start a business. Let’s say it’s an hour every day.

You spend the day working, chill out for a bit, and then get started on your business. But you find yourself distracted or multitasking.

You end up getting almost nothing done.

That’s how most entrepreneurs work, and it’s a really inefficient system. Why make time to work on your business if you’re not going to put it to good use?

That’s why you need focus to grow your business.

Focus is vital to any good work.

If you don’t have focus, your work will look like a jumbled mess, and your results will suffer.

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In his book Deep Work, author Cal Newport talks about the differences between shallow work and deep work.

Shallow work is probably what you’re used to doing every day. Checking email, making routine phone calls, and going to meetings are all examples of work that is usually shallow.

Deep work, on the other hand, makes you focus and get stuff done. Think research, writing, or strategic planning.

Here’s an infographic by Instaread that summarizes the differences between the two types of work:

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You need to be doing more deep work and less shallow work.

Deep work is what will produce results and help you achieve your goals.

If you’re busy doing shallow work, you won’t see many results. It’s like running in place. It feels like you’re getting things done, but you’re not going anywhere.

Deep work is especially important if you only have an hour or two to focus on your own business.

You want to spend that time doing as little shallow work as possible so you can really accelerate your business.

If you have extreme trouble focusing on your work, you might benefit from making a super detailed system like this one to help you:

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You might find it easy to do lots of deep work, or you might need a strict schedule.

Whatever it takes, get used to more deep work.

4. Get more sleep


That’s probably what you’re thinking right now.

No, I didn’t mean sleep less. I mean sleep more.

This sounds nuts because it goes against the traditional narrative of entrepreneurship. In order to make it, you’ve got to pull some all-nighters in pursuit of your dreams, right?

Entrepreneur or not, the average worker doesn’t get much sleep. Most people don’t even get six hours.

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It shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that this lack of sleep affects performance.

7 out of 10 professionals say they feel tired while at work.

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It seems pretty gloomy, but it doesn’t have to be like this.

I used to skip sleeping a lot. I was getting stuff done, but I was also experiencing severe burnout.

This was my schedule:

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Trust me. You do not want that schedule.

What I found was that getting more sleep helped me become more productive. I slashed hours from my workday because I got stuff done faster.

And I sleep for around nine hours a night!

It used to take me 4 hours to respond to about 400 emails. Now it only takes me about 2.5 hours.

The more sleep you get, the better you can perform every task. Your energy levels go up and your productivity increases.

It makes sense, doesn’t it?

So hit the hay early tonight, and you might start seeing improvements tomorrow.

5. Outsource as much as you can

Doing everything on your own is hard. I’d say it’s downright impossible.

Does that mean you have to give up the idea of starting a business? Nope. You just have to be smart about it.

One way to be smart is to outsource as much work as possible.

Outsourcing gets a lot of flak these days. People think that if you outsource your business, you’ll get low-quality work and bad results.

But that’s just not true.

Most of the time, it pays to outsource whatever you can.

Think of it. Want some benefits like this?

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Most people will tell you to outsource your weaknesses. This advice is worth its weight in gold.

It takes more pressure and responsibility off your shoulders, and more importantly, it lets you focus on the things you’re good at.

I outsource most of my work. Why? I know my limitations. I’m good at a small set of very focused tasks, so I focus on those. I outsource everything else.

You know that phrase “work smarter, not harder,” right? Outsourcing is a perfect example of that mentality in action.

There’s no reason to learn an entirely new skill set if you have the means to pay someone else to do it.

Even though you might not have a big budget for outsourcing, you can usually find a virtual assistant or freelancer for fairly cheap.

In fact, the average business doesn’t spend a whole lot on outsourcing, so even if you outsource multiple tasks, the bill should be fairly low.

If you’re on a really strict budget but want to outsource, start by outsourcing some of the boring work, like scheduling calls or organizing files.

6. Ask your boss if you can work from home

First I tell you to sleep more, then I tell you to ask your boss if you can work from home.

Do I sound crazy?

This is another strategy that sounds impractical, but it can lead to some surprising results.

Working from home is awesome. You can work in your pajamas, set your own hours, and be your own boss (more or less).

It also can give you more time to work on your business (provided you work on that after you finish job-related work).

But what’s in it for your boss? Productivity.

Working from home typically results in a 10 to 20 percent increase in employee productivity.

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Many workers tend to be more productive in their homes than in a shared office space.

From a boss’s point of view, that’s a huge plus. It increases employee morale too.

And, of course, you can build your business.

So how do you do it?

First, be straight up with your boss.

We already talked about making sure you’re legally in the clear. It’s best to provide full disclosure to your boss and tell him or her your plans.

At the same time, reassure your boss that your productivity will still go through the roof.

And you have to deliver on that promise. If you don’t, you could get corralled back into the office. (Or even worse, fired. Yikes!)

Second, pitch the benefits.

Your boss should know that he or she is going to benefit from a telecommuting arrangement.

Point out all of the downsides of not working from home, like a long commute or lowered productivity.

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You should also create a realistic schedule. If you say you’ll get a week’s worth of work done in two days, your boss will be suspicious, and for good reason.

Even if you can only work from home one or two days a week, it’s still worth fighting for.

Third, follow through. Make good on your promises and be a great telecommuter. Don’t let your boss down.

And don’t get so busy with your own business that you stop paying attention to your day job.

Full-time first, side gig later.

7. Start small

Most entrepreneurs try to go big from day one.

They make grand plans for launches, devise long-term marketing schemes, and register trademarks.

I’ll be blunt: It’s a bad idea to start out like that.

If you go all-out with your own business, it might fail, and you’ll have wasted your time and money.

Building a business involves a lot of work.

If you don’t know for sure if your business will succeed, why jump in the deep end so soon?

Instead, you need to validate your idea.

Basically, you want to make sure there is interest for your product or service.

You need to be 100% certain there’s an audience for what you’re creating.

It doesn’t take a whole lot to validate your idea. You can do it with just a landing page or even a webinar.

Take the time to validate, because it will save you months or years in the long run!

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Setting up a basic website will help, too.

Once you’ve validated your idea, take baby steps. Don’t try to outsell Apple in your first month.

Aim for slow and steady growth.

8. Set specific goals

Do you want to know an insider secret to starting a successful business?

Define your goals.

I included this strategy because it helps you get an idea of how your business will become a reality.

You don’t even have to free up loads of extra time to do this step. All you need is a little bit of time and some brainpower.

Understand what your goals are and how you’ll get there. Think of it like you’re making a business plan, but without the rigid rules you might associate with that.

I suggest starting with the SMART goal system.

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The more detailed your goals are, the better you’ll be able to accomplish them.

This will also help you visualize the future of your business. You should be aware of every step you’ll need to take to get your idea off the ground.

This seems like a simple step, but you should spend a lot of time on it.  Without solid goals, your business will have trouble.


Don’t think your full-time job has to stop you from creating a business of your own.

It’s not only possible. It’s practical.

The people who fail to launch their business often get burned out, because they try to move too quickly.

But you don’t have to fall victim to those problems. Start small, and each day you’ll get closer to achieving your goals.

Even if you start with just a simple landing page, you can grow your business into a huge success.

If you need some motivation, check out the story of how a bootstrapped startup out-marketed me:

I hope it can inspire you to follow your dreams and make your business a reality.

Are you starting a business while keeping a job? What are you struggling with?

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