A common strategy for many aspiring entrepreneurs is to ease their way into it by building their business on the side while working a full-time job.
While this approach helps reduce the initial risk of diving head first into being your own boss, delaying the gratification of quitting your job to run your own business can take its toll on your motivation.
Here are 5 tips to keep your entrepreneur flame burning strong while working for someone else:
1. Keep it a secret
In theory, telling others about your plans to start your own business seems like a smart idea. Conventional wisdom says you’ll have others to hold you accountable. And it feels good to see people nod in excitement when they hear your plans.
But according to Peter Shallard, the shrink for entrepreneurs, telling other people about your big plans robs you of your motivation. You get all caught up in talking about your plans, instead of actually doing the work to bring your goals to life.
In addition, having people continually asking you about your progress can also zap your enthusiasm if you’re not progressing as quickly as they think you should be. Another consequence of spreading the word about your side business are the naysayers, people who will warn you about all the terrible things that could happen to you as a result of venturing out on your own.
Instead of running the risk of having other people rain on your parade, keep your plans to yourself. Make it your own little secret. Then use that private piece of information as fuel. For instance, every time you get frustrated with work, remind yourself that being there is temporary, because you have an exit plan.
It’ll help you pull through the tough days, and give you an extra dose of energy to make progress on your side business once you get home.
“There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure.” – Colin Powell
2. Work on it a little every day
Progress is an extreme motivator. When you see how far you’ve gone from where you initially started, it gives you an extra boost to keep advancing toward your end goal. The best way to make progress is to do something every day.
As you work your day job, it may seem difficult to find the time to devote to your side business. So don’t leave making progress up to chance. Schedule appointments with yourself on your calendar. And make showing up for them non-negotiable.
Don’t worry if you don’t have large blocks of time to devote. Consistently spending thirty or even fifteen minutes a day to grow your business will bring you far more results than longer, sporadic blocks of time once every couple of weeks.
The daily progress will help you gain momentum, which will further drive you to keep going.
3. Celebrate small wins
Building a business is a major undertaking, and there are multiple milestones you’ll need to hit to make it thrive.
To help you stay motivated during the process, you should celebrate your small wins along the way. Little bonuses will help energize you to continue to take action.
The rewards don’t need to be elaborate or even cost any money. They just need to be meaningful enough to you to inspire you to keep going.
4. Set a departure date
When I worked my corporate job, I used to work with a man that was counting down the days until his retirement. When I first met him, he had 186 days left. And every couple of weeks he’d let me know what the new number was.
Eventually, he retired and took his wife on that cruise around the world he’d been planning. It was a major life event for him, and he was understandably excited about it, even though for a while it seemed far away.
Having a finite date of when his retirement was to begin gave him hope, and a very clear light at the end of a long tunnel. When it comes to keeping motivated while you build your business on the side, you need an absolute date too. It doesn’t matter if it’s six months or two years from now.
Besides, a specified departure date will make the dream of running your business full-time feel more tangible.
5. Write your resignation letter
One of the most exhilarating feelings is handing in your resignation letter to pursue your dream. But there’s no need to wait until you officially upgrade your status to a full-time entrepreneur to experience some of that thrill. You can write your letter now.
Put the date on it that you set in the previous tip. The euphoria of writing the words will help you better visualize yourself being in the moment where your dream is your reality. The desire to give the letter to your boss will help get you in gear to do the work to help you be ready when the time comes.
“You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.” – C. S. Lewis
The journey to achieving your dream of running your own business full-time may seem long, but if you stay motivated and take consistent action, you will get there. And the sacrifices you make today to live your dream in the future will be worth it.