With entrepreneurship on the rise as a result of people getting sick of working for a Open for Businesscorporation as well as the myriad of layoffs each year more and more people are starting a business. And in many ways, even if you LOVE your day job, having a side, additional source of income is both empowering and good for your bottom line. Yet there is an art to starting a business and it doesn’t look like leaping out of your job as soon as your brilliant idea strikes. If you want to succeed, you need to have a plan. Sometimes the best plan can be building that business while you keep your day job (at least for a while).

SmartMoney recently had an article “Going a Part-Time Route Is a Good Way to Start a Business” which talks about this very thing. As someone who is experiencing this juggling act personally, I am always interested in reading these types of articles. All agree that going this route is the ideal way to test and grow your business idea while maintaining a steady flow of income and benefits. It doesn’t come without its challenges though.

Some mentioned in the article include:

  • ‘How do you stay sane? How do you not blow it at both jobs at once?'”
  • “How it’s like ‘I have to do this, I have to do that.’ So I’m a little disconnected.”
  • “There is a period of about two years in my life that are lost…”

As someone in the heat of doing this I can definitely relate to this. It is challenging to juggle all this to say the least and of course the first thing to go is a bunch of free time and time with my partner. That being said, I believe building a business is a distance run, not a sprint. You can’t honestly expect to be successful if you burn yourself out. Whether your business is successful or not (or any career for that matter) you still want to tend to the things that really matter:

  • your relationships (and that includes relationship with self)
  • your health
  • your joy and enjoyment factor

Pam Slim at Escape from Cubicle Nation recently had a great post on this very topic called “Overwhelmed with too much to do or life in general? 5 tips to make things easier”. I am an absolute raving fan of what Pam writes and in this case she hits the nail on the head. How can you make it easier?

How can you make it easier?

I remember being startled by the question, as I was in the midst of a “this is hard, I have so much work to do, there is so much I don’t know, besides which, I am an incredibly nauseated hormonal pregnant woman and this sucks” kind of a moment. In our modern society, we can try to outdo each other with the list of overwhelming and herculean tasks we have to complete, such as:

  • “You only get 500 emails a day? I get at least 1200, and more on the weekends.”
  • “You only work 40 hours a week? I work 100+ hours a week on my business.”
  • “I completed a website redesign, launched a new product, tended to my sick mother, served as Chair of our local charity event and baked cupcakes for my son’s class birthday party. And that was just today!”

In reality, one of the best reasons to choose to become an entrepreneur is to throw away those outdated notions that more hours at work = more success and redefine your relationship to work.

I am all for throwing out outdated notions. I mean, how have they really served us? I think as GLBT couples and families we put even more pressure on ourselves because financially we feel we have to do it all. No big tax breaks or spousal benefits to fall back on. Even if we choose to live in a relationship with only one person working outside the home as sometimes happens with lesbian Mom’s and gay Dad’s, there are still extra hurdles to surmount. The reality is that we can’t walk on water and do it all.

The good news is that by starting your business on the side you mitigate one of the top reasons why 95% of all small businesses fail within the first five years — insufficient capital. By having the cushion of an income from a day job you don’t have to worry about paying your personal expenses and can plow all your business revenues back into the business.

So the bottom line from my perspective – both as someone in the midst of it all as well as someone who watches how others have succeeded — is balance. Go for it – what you really want to do, but temper it with an attitude that it does take time and you can’t ignore the art and joy of “living” while you’re building. Enjoy the journey because it IS the destination.