A Moonlighting How-To

Over at the Elance blog I wrote a how-to piece on incubating a startup business while you are still employed. One of the tips involves setting aside dedicated time and sticking to a schedule with your side startup:

5. Set Aside A Dedicated Schedule for Your Startup

In my experience, the biggest challenge you will have during the incubation is sticking with it and finding time. After the initial flush of giddy energy, it’s hard to stay motivated to build a business. It’s even harder when you are tired and stressed after a full day’s work.

Many entrepreneurs who have successfully started a side business do it by setting aside dedicated hours each day for their startup. I’ve known budding entrepreneurs speak about going home to “start the second shift.” That’s exactly how you have to think of it. Commit to spending X hours per weekday and/or on weekends on your business. Stick to a regular schedule — it makes it easier. P.D. James, the novelist, worked for years as a hospital administrator, arising early to write for 2 hours each morning before work.

You see, I started Small Business Trends as a side business. It was a side business to my regular business at the time, when I was a consultant. For several years I continued to be a consultant by day, Web entrepreneur by night.  Eventually that side business grew to overtake and far eclipse the original business.

My experience is not uncommon.  Today, so many of us have multiple businesses — a portfolio of businesses, if you will.  As I look around at other entrepreneurs like you, I see many “side businesses” to the main businesses you own and run.  Sometimes I think it’s par for the course.

Read the whole article for all 6 tips: Tips for Incubating Your Small Business Idea While Still Working Full Time.


Anita Campbell Anita Campbell is the Founder, CEO and Publisher of Small Business Trends and has been following trends in small businesses since 2003. She is the owner of BizSugar, a social media site for small businesses.

8 Reactions
  1. I actually encourage people to stay employed (at least part time) while they are launching their small business if that is an option. Takes the edge off financially and allows you to ease into business ownership, which can be a shock at first. Also, what we do on the evenings and weekends for fun (a blog maybe) are great segues into a full time business. If we love it enough to do it when we aren’t being paid for it there will be no problems giving it our 100% when we decide to make some money from it too.


  2. I’m starting a business on the side because I detest my boss. My company has a policy against moonlighting. I plan to quit in January but I’m scared s***less one of my coworkers will turn me in. Hope I make it……

  3. “I actually encourage people to stay employed (at least part time) while they are launching their small business if that is an option. Takes the edge off financially and allows you to ease into business ownership, which can be a shock at first.”

    You’re right with that Matt. It is better to take it slowly but SURELY. 🙂

  4. It seems that once we take that giant leap into business ownership, it becomes addicting. Getting over that initial fear is the hard part and the second, third maybe fourth business are that much easier to start.

  5. Could you please tell me how employers in America is looking at an employee having an own business in his or her spare time? What is the general attitude? Have you seen many examples on how companies have policies against starting a hobby business? Could it be counted as competition practice?

  6. Well, employers are NOT looking at the side businesses favorably.
    I work for a $17billion corporation. I am not aware of any policies against side businesses at this company. However, I was threatened by my boss multiple times that,” I must make a choice between my side business and my office job; otherwise she’ll make the decision for me.” (Sounds like a clear threat to me).

    I am not sure if such threats fall within the legal boundaries. But guess what, her threats worked as yet another reason why I have to build my own business. 🙂

  7. Hi A, some companies (a minority of them, to be sure) actually encourage entrepreneurial side activity. Companies that sell to small businesses, for instance, often encourage this kind of activity because they want their employees to know first hand what it is like to be a small business owner / entrepreneur.

    But most are against it, feeling that the employee should give 100% (maybe more) to his or her employer.

    It’s a tough situation to be in. If your employer is opposed, then usually you can’t keep a side business going for very long. Often that kind of situation forces people to quit and go out on their own sooner rather than later.

    Good luck!


  8. A good strategy is also to get a part-time job instead of a full-time job if you can while you’re starting a business.