5 Ways to Build a Business Around Your Full-Time Job

July 8, 2011

Whenever I tell people what I do – run a few small businesses out of my home – they always ask me how I got the guts to quit my full-time job and start a business, and I can never answer their question.

I can’t answer it because I didn’t quit my job and then start a business.

I built businesses around my full-time job and then, when the timing was right, quit that job for good.

I never recommend people flat-out quitting their jobs without any successful business already built and generating consistent income. Talk about scary! I know there are some folks out there that might be able to do it, but I was not one of them.

And I believe the vast majority of folks out there wanting to do something similar fall into the same camp I did.

So how do you build a business around your full-time job? In general, here are a few things that might help:

1. Change your productivity mindset If you want to build a business in your spare time, you must revaluate your “wasted” time.

Do you realize how many seconds, minutes, even hours of the day go we waste? Shrugging and giving them up to the “well, I can’t get anything done in this small amount of time, so I just won’t do anything” mindset?

Answer: A lot. Way more than you think.

Most of us aren’t sitting around with extra time during the day, hoping and wishing we could just gosh darn find a way to fill it! We’re busy.

So you want to start a business, but your days as they are now, pre-business, are already full. You have to change your mindset on productivity. Change your mindset on productive time.

Challenge yourself to see how much you can get done in periods of time you would have otherwise dismissed.

Sitting in the pick-up line at the elementary school? Send two emails. No wait, three.

Boarded a plane, waiting for it to take off? Turn on those electronics. You have at least fifteen minutes to use them, if not twenty.

Pull up for a noon meeting at 11:58? Listen to those four, waiting voice messages, jot down who needs a quick call back. Can you send a text to respond one of them? Answer one of the questions with a thirty second call instead of an email that would take you five minutes to type on your phone? Do it.

2. Simplify You’re holding down your full-time job, getting a part-time business off the ground, and still supporting all of your other personal responsibilities. You don’t have time for fluff.

Business-wise, if it’s not a direct, income-producing activity, get rid of it.

Income-producing activities are just what they sound – activities that are directly affecting your growth and bottom line…your income. Making prospect calls, setting up appointments to present to new potential clients, creating and developing your product, etc.

It’s been a busy Tuesday, and you carved out 25 uninterrupted minutes to work on your business this evening. That’s awesome! Better 25 than none at all. You sit down at your desk in your little home office and get to work on…organizing receipts.

Or updating the banner image on your website.
Or ordering new business cards.

Don’t devalue your time! You worked hard for those extra minutes. Set the fluff aside for your extra, extra time (you’ll know when that is).

Simplify the time you’re carving out for your business by only allowing yourself to work on direct, business-building, income-producing activities.

Simplify your activities, and it will suddenly feel like you have more time. I promise.

3. Make it a habit If you’re used to “relaxing” for three hours a day on the couch, it’s going to hurt for a while after giving part (or all) of that up.

I went through a Grey’s Anatomy streak a couple years ago. There were reruns on every day that I DVR’d and watched most evenings. After a few months it started driving me crazy, my prioritizing Grey’s time over other things, so I cut myself off.

I broke up with the Grey’s reruns.

It hurt.

I almost faltered a couple times. But I held strong. I said no. I said no not to never watching a single episode of Grey’s for the rest of my life (tradegy!), but to consistently, habitually, dedicating 45 minutes every evening to it.

After a couple weeks, a month at most, it hurt no more. That long lost love was forgotten. Just like that I got back 45 minutes from an “obligation” that I had inserted into my schedule every weekday evening.

Where was I going with this? Grey’s can be very McDistracting. Oh yeah, habits!

Yes, it will hurt at first, changing your ways a little bit. Giving up a few things here and there to dedicate some time to your new business isn’t going to be easy.

But stick with it. Make the changes a habit, and before you know it you won’t remember ever not having the business time you now have.

Remind yourself that productivity is a habit.

4. Pick a residual income business model Time is at a minimum. If every minute worked has the potential to pay you back multiple times in the future, you’re making that much better use of your time.

You will get tired, you will get worn out. Focusing on being productive all the time is great, but boy oh boy can it be exhausting at times. Frustrating at others. When will it ever end, you know? Once in a while, you just need a short break.

An evening off.
A week off from your full-time job and your part-time business without guilt.

And that’s ok. You have the discipline now to get right back into it with gusto and confidence. But wouldn’t it be cool if your part-time gig still paid you, even when you took a moment off? That’s residual.

And powerful.

(Some sales companies pay the salesperson in this manner. Additionally, both real estate rentals and network marketing are classic residual-income model businesses. Do you know of more? If so, I’d love to hear about them in the comments!)

If you’re selling a product or a service for time, that’s great. But know that after weeks, months, even years of being in business, if you don’t work, you don’t earn. From an encouragement and productivity standpoint, consider if you’re ok with that.

5. Get organized You have to get a grip on your organization. Specifically, your mental organization.

If you’re upping your productivity mindset, simplifying and working primarily on income-producing activities, and making productivity a habit, you have to have a strong hold on when you’re doing what and how and for how long and who needs who and what needs to happen first and who has what and do I need to go on?

Keep a notebook with you at all times. Electronic or paper, doesn’t matter. But you need a nerve center. And you need one that’s NOT your lovely, little head.

No offense. I’m sure your brain is lovely. And I’m sure you do have a great memory, it’s just…it’s just…it’s just better if you don’t rely on it all the time.

Trust me.

Take that weight off your shoulders. Allow your non-business moments to be spent thinking about your full-time job, or your children, or your golf game, instead of constantly forcing yourself to remember all of your tiny business dealings for the week.

It gives me anxiety just thinking about it.

Create reminders on your calendar to call Bob back on Monday morning, as you promised him you would when he called right before you ran into a meeting on Thursday afternoon.

When the reminder pops up Monday morning, and you can’t get to his call that minute, don’t dismiss it! Or, dismiss it, and immediately write “CALL BOB” in your notebook.

You get the picture. There’s no point in wasting so many brain cells trying to have a perfect memory. Let yourself relax a little. Get organized by writing everything down.

Plus, once organized, hen you pull up for that noon appointment at 11:58 and wonder, hmm, who can I call back in these two minutes?, your answer is right there.

Organization and productivity go hand-in-hand.


Can you build a business around your fill-time job? You bet. Resolve yourself to making it happen and then…make it happen. It’s not as difficult as it’s made out to be.

What do you think? Are the five things listed above possible for you?

If someone asked you how they should build a business around their full-time job, what would you recommend to them?

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