“When do you sleep?” This phrase probably sounds familiar to my colleagues balancing employment and entrepreneurship. One may also ask, “When do you find time for leisure, family or “me time?” One of the most important lessons I have learned as a current employee and entrepreneur is our time is arguably one of our most important tools and we will make time for the things that are important to us. If something is important to us we will find the time, if not we will find an excuse. Speaking of time; each of us are granted the same 24 hours 7 days per week. The distribution of this time throughout each day will determine one’s success rate in balancing the task of employment and entrepreneurship. Most full time jobs are 8 hours per day for 5 days per week. There are 168 hours in a week and in a given week the average full time employee works between 40-60 hours 5 days per week. If my math is correct, this leaves 108-128 hours of free time per week. This sounds like a lot of “free time” and I am well aware that this time can slip away if one is not mindful of how it is spent. If entrepreneurship is truly your long term goal and not your hobby (it can become a VERY EXPENSIVE hobby) the activity in the remaining 108-128 hours throughout each week will determine the success of your business. I know you are tired after a long day of work; some of us have to balance family responsibilities and most of the time we want to go home relax, take a nap or engage in some other leisure activity. By no means am I suggesting that you eliminate this from your life. I am merely bringing awareness to this window of time being an asset or liability in your choice to grow a business on a part time basis. There will be great days, bad days; as well as days where you are physically and mentally drained. You will experience pain, setbacks, self-doubt and even ponder quitting your business! The common denominator in any given scenario is “you!” How will you manage your time and focus to balance these two roles and enjoy life?
Consider the following tips to assist you along your journey as an employee and entrepreneur:
Be present in the moment: It can be very seductive to attempt to multi-task while balancing the two roles. If you are at work, be present at work. Be the best employee you can offer your employer. While you are on the clock, you are on company time, so make the best of it. Remember, you also run a business; how would employees stealing company time impact your business? The time you devote to your business may be limited to a couple hours per day or per week. Whether you dedicate 5 hours per week or 50 hours per week to your business, make the most of this time by working in and/or on your business.
“To Do List:” Plan! Plan! Plan! If we fail to plan, we are planning to fail! There are several ways to organize your day. This can be done via calendar alerts, memos in your electronic devices, pocket calendar or writing a daily to do list on notebook paper. I suggest finding a strategy that works for you and sticking to it. If you get overwhelmed by a lengthy “to do” list, prioritize 1-3 goals you would like to accomplish before the end of the day.
Networking: Any social interaction with another human being is an opportunity to network. Be curious and genuinely interested in what other people do and how you can help each other. Attend networking events (remember those 108-128 hours of “free time”). Don’t just attend networking events, prepare and be present during these events. What is your elevator pitch? How will you engage people you do not know? Who will you distribute business cards to?
Self-Care Day: As a full time employee and part time entrepreneur you will work at least 80-110 hours per week. This equates to a lot of time and energy being poured into others, leaving little time for self-care. I have learned it is imperative to designate at least one-day of the week where you engage in a self-care activity that you do not feel obligated to complete ( massage, go for a walk, lounge in your favorite lounge wear, watch a movie). This is your day, it is okay to say no or say yes. A wise woman reminded me the importance of not forcing anything on our “me days.”
Support network: Family and friends can be great support systems. I also encourage you to reach out to your colleagues and/or fellow entrepreneurs for support. Networking events, social media groups geared toward professionals and entrepreneurs are some examples of ways to build your network. This is also a great opportunity to seek out an accountability partner. Sometimes life can get in the way of us accomplishing goals. An accountability partner does just that; holds us accountable to the goals we set.
Mentorship: A mentor is someone we look up to, inspires us to be better, offers support encouragement, and pushes us beyond the limits of our potential. Mentors are not always our friends; although this relationship can grow into a friendship. Mentors are not there to make us happy or tell us what we want to hear. Mentors tell us what we need to hear and guide us to the best of their knowledge. Choose your mentor wisely; your success is dependent on it.
Keep your end in mind: Being an employee is hard. Being an entrepreneur is hard. Life is hard. When the complexities of life strike, most of us focus on our circumstances. If we have a clear view of what our end looks like; we can begin to focus on our goals in spite of our circumstances. What are your short term goals? What are your long term goals? Where do you see yourself in 5, 10, 15 years? Where do you see your business in 5 years?
As we traverse through our unique journeys, we will continue to encounter obstacles, setbacks, rejections, disappointments; all of which may feel like we are treading water or even sinking. While in pursuit of greatness, please keep in mind your journey is a marathon and not a sprint. This marathon may take years to complete. Patience, persistence, consistency and discipline will be the key ingredients needed to withstand this journey. As the late author Jim Rohn quoted,” We must all suffer from one of two pains: the pain of discipline or the pain of regret. The difference is discipline weighs ounces while regret weighs tons.” Hang in there; you are closer than you think!!
Please share your experiences with balancing the roles of employee and entrepreneur. Full time entrepreneurs; what advice do you have for those who may be looking to transition into full time entrepreneurs?