How to Become an Entrepreneur – How I Did It with a 9 to 5 Job

how to become an entrepreneur

Becoming a successful entrepreneur is often easier than you think, even if leaving your 9 – 5 job isn’t really an option.

I receive a ton of emails with questions regarding entrepreneurship. Many of these emails contained a very similar question…

“How do I become an Entrepreneur if I am not ready to give up my 9-5 job?”

There are many elements that are true about entrepreneurship regardless of the type of entrepreneur you are, like perseverance or a fearless mindset. These all remain true regardless if you are a full time entrepreneur or simply have a few projects on the side.  They all require the same core competencies and the same tenacity. The only drawback to being part time is that it simply takes longer to do what you want to achieve.

Being part time or full time is simply one piece of the equation when dealing with a 9 – 5 job on the side. As you may have noticed, there is certainly no loyalty left in corporate America and your superiors/company might have a problem with you taking on another project/role or job.

Here are 10 basic tips on how you can do both and still succeed as a successful entrepreneur:

  • Understand your company’s policy around other employment.

Understand that even though your project is far from completion, some corporations have serious issues with their employees owning or working on other businesses. I cannot advise you to break the rules as only you know the consequences of doing so, but instead I ask you to understand that in most cases your organization will see this as a conflict of interest and perhaps decide to get rid of you. Make sure that you are fully aware of your company’s policy and are prepared to face any consequence before getting started. It would be pointless to start something you won’t finish due to fear.

  • Leverage your time carefully.

Obviously, working two jobs will take much more of your time. Make sure to use your time very wisely while at work. Ensure you are as productive as you can so that you can accomplish more in less time. This great habit enables you to maximize your own productivity and also allows you to finish your work projects in less time and giving you a few extra hours a day to work on your own business.  Do not fall victim of sacrificing one for the other. Understand that this is even more difficult than having two jobs as your project is not straightforward and requires thinking outside the box making it much more time consuming.

  • Do not mix the two.

It is often very easy to lose track of time and choose to use the time at your corporate America job to work on your project. Do not be tempted to do so as almost every organization has a media usage policy prohibiting you to do so and often even monitors emails, documents, or anything else that you work on. Be very cautious as breaking this rule will most likely end up getting you terminated. Make sure to also not sell any of those services to anyone at your work even if it can really benefit them.

  • Keep your project to yourself.

You are probably extremely excited about your new project and feel very good about your vision, but reality remains that the world will not share your enthusiasm and instead will look to sabotage your efforts.  It is very important that you trust no one and make sure to NOT share your project with anyone that works with you, is related to your work, or may know someone at your work. Make sure to not share your project on social networks that others may be able to see. Secrecy is key.

  • Do not involve others you work with.

It is almost always true that the projects you think of are based upon your experiences and most likely related one way or another to the type of work you do. You might have identified and thought of many people you work with and trust as potential team members to recruit. Picking the right team is very critical to your victory but in this case might be fatal. Make sure to look entirely outside of your existing co workers as problems on one job might result in failure of both.

  • Don’t let it affect your work performance.

As time is critical and you are working lots of hours on your project, you might very well get tired and even lack sleep. It is very important that you do not allow one performance to keep you from performing on your 9-5 job. It is most important that you balance the two so that neither suffers an early termination. Ensure you don’t raise suspicion by not performing as you have in the past.

  • Don’t give up your job too early.

As you undertake your project and gain traction, you might catch a break and see a few sales or early results, do not immediately jump ship and abandon your 9-5 job. If you stayed there to begin with, it was due to funding and you must remain the course until traction becomes consistent and not seasonal. Too many entrepreneurs give up their jobs immediately just to be disappointed in later results.

  • Expect to come out only what you put in.

You are obviously working on this part time so do not expect amazing results early on. It would be foolish to expect results faster with only a half time commitment. Make sure to set correct expectation to retain your energy levels high and not face disappointments early on.

  • If they ask, DENY.

It is very likely that at some point, something will create suspicion from others including your supervisor or HR department.  Make sure you understand that if people are asking you, it is because they do not know for a fact and making it sound as if they know, wanting you to slip only so they can validate what they believe. If they already knew, they would not be asking and therefore would act upon the information they have. They may make it sound like they are trying to help you to come clean and will only help you retain your job as a result. It is important that you cover your bases and give them nothing to use against you.

  • Do not become arrogant if you succeed.

You might enjoy great success with your projects and might even double your income. Make sure to flash only what makes sense or others might grow suspicious of your dealings and might use that against you. If you plan to keep you 9-5 and are earning $80,000 a year, then your lifestyle must look to make sense to those outside the box. Remember that perception is often an important key to succeeding in life and as we discuss for almost two chapters in Stay Poor: The Idea of Making Money, it is very necessary to learn to manipulate other’s perceptions of you.

These 10 rules are really some basics to keep in mind before starting your journey on a project not associated with your 9 – 5 job. For those of you that want to remain in your corporate roles forever and only want to add to your skillset, remember that most companies reward internal entrepreneurs who help them grow their brand by creating or establishing new grounds/improvements. You can do so within your company and in some cases even be rewarded but the truth is that those projects may help you advance but won’t leave with you if you choose to go elsewhere as they are inventions that belong to the company you created it for.

Let me tell you my story that might help you understand why the rules above are so important.

During my earlier days I worked in finance and had a tremendous career, one that many would kill for. My income was well in the six figures and the freedom I had was unbeatable. One could say I had the perfect job, and would have no reason of looking elsewhere. The problem with my personality is that it’s just never enough and therefore makes it hard to ever settle, even if things are perfect. Despite having great money, I still felt I could accomplish much more than just working for others. I started many different businesses, some were more tangible than others but nonetheless all were profitable.

I was very good at following all the advice I gave above so entrepreneurship came to me very naturally as I was very determined and understood quite a bit about the businesses I had started. Almost 2 years went by and not a soul had an idea about my side ventures and many knew that I was successful at my 9 – 5 job and would have no reason of going outside the box but I, on the other hand, after 2 years lost a bit of control as far as my attitude was concerned. I was very confident and unfortunately became quite arrogant towards others as I felt I had accomplished so much more than any of my peers. My arrogance, however, did not show itself through my conversations with others but rather my dismissive nature and lavish lifestyle.

I got arrogant and broke rule #10 by going out and buying myself a series of vehicles well above the cost of those that a normal person earning my salary could afford by society standards. This particular stunt helped elevate people’s interest in what I did and made it difficult to keep everything a secret as it seemed everyones eyes were always analyzing all my behaviors. It took about 3 more months to get called in by my supervisor, which I trusted very much, who simply asked me if I dealt with any other companies outside of ours. I felt that as my supervisor and close friend, he would be happy for my success and shared with him one unrelated business I had opened. He congratulated me and made me feel as though everything was great. All was well and nothing had gone wrong as a result of me telling him but it wasn’t until I made another mistake where him and I disagreed on something else where he played his powercard and asked me to resign due to holding another business.

You see, it wasn’t that I held a non related business outside of my 9 – 5 job that made me lose my job, it was the jealousy that other people in your peer group simply cannot stand someone doing something above their own capacity. No one likes their job everyday at every minute, many hate their jobs, but not a lot of people can do something about it or even have options on what to do which leads them to be extremely jealous and fearful of those that show them the way out. They are fearful because it takes a lot of work, and sacrificing their time is not in their agenda meaning they are not willing to put in the work to do what it takes to get out of their miserable circumstances.

Successful entrepreneurs are often looked down upon as dreamers or rebels who ignore and do not conform to society’s standards. People that often reject school as a means to an end are looked at as uneducated and incapable because we have been taught to see the world through our parent’s eyes who had to go to school during their times to become anything. Many of our parents may not have gone to school and felt that if they did, they would be in better places financially and therefore impose it on us.

Generation Y as whole is looked at as rebellious as they dream of big things and don’t want to conform to the typical ways of acquiring them which is long hours in the office or working for a company for 10 years.

In today’s market, anyone can become an entrepreneur but very few succeed at becoming successful entrepreneurs and see their ideas come to life. Regardless that you hold a 9 – 5 or refuse to go to school, or perhaps are part of the generation voted most likely to fail, you as an individual, have all the tools and resources available for you to succeed.  Funding and many of the other excuses people who failed use are nothing more than excuses, as history will tell us that Facebook was created with very little money, the Wright brothers took flight when most said it was impossible, and Apple was created in Steve Job’s garage. The core principles in entrepreneurship is all the same and none address funding as the key to succeeding. Keep in mind that dealing with failure is however a key trait to being a successful entrepreneur as almost every accomplished entrepreneur will tell you, they never made it on the first attempt.