The benefits of working when starting up

When people think about starting up it’s often in the context of quitting your job, pursuing your dream full-time, and somehow magically managing to make it work.

This might be the case for some businesses - but we recently ran a survey that found out 60% of our businesses were working when they started up. And of these, an impressive 67% were working full time.

Being employed when you’re starting up can feel like a juggling act – but it also has a number of benefits, potentially strengthening your startup in the long-term. So don’t jack it all in yet. Here’s why it’s good to work when you’re starting up.


First and foremost, starting up isn’t something reknowned for its stability. You might not be turning a profit for a while, mistakes will be made, and things can change abruptly – it can take one delayed payment to mess up your cashflow and send everything toppling down. You know what can help with this? A regular income stream.

Working, even part-time, means you’re not completely reliant on your startup or on temporary funding to get by. You’ve got a monthly safety net that doesn’t just help grow your business, but can also save it. The downside of course is that you’re basically doing two jobs and you might not be able to progress on your idea as quickly – but often this is a trade-off worth making to get it right.

The security of a job doesn’t just mean improved cashflow. It also means something to fall back on if your startup doesn’t take off as planned, a source of income that can help other sources of financing to get on board with your idea, and the freedom to make the correct decisions for your business. For example, it could save you from taking on a contract where the terms aren’t good for your business but you need the money desperately.

Time management

Everyone can always be better at time management, and running a business when working is a crash course in learning how to be more efficient. Pushing yourself will force to you figure out stuff such as when you’re most productive, when you should do certain tasks, how to do things quicker, and how you can absolutely maximise every second you have. So if in the future you do go full-time on your startup, you’ll have these awesome skills to help you be more efficient forever.

Tests your passion

Getting up at 5am to work on financials, scheduling meetings in your lunch hours, and turning down Sunday afternoons in the pub because you need to move your startup forward isn’t fun. This is the true test of your passion – is making these sacrifices on your time and energy worth it? There will be good times and bad times when you run a startup, but you’ve got to stick through both. And passion, ultimately, is the only thing that will motivate you enough to get through those eighteen-hour days, when the house is a tip and an important connection fell through and the dog ate your business plan. If despite everything you carry on, you can be sure that this idea is the one that drives you like nothing else.

Risk and innovation

If you’re reliant on your startup for your income, you can be loathe to take risks or try new things for fear of wasting time, money, or rocking the boat. However, startups thrive on innovation and new ideas. Knowing you have your job behind you can encourage you to experiment with a few things, mix it up, and reap the rewards.

Strengthens your skills

Even if your job is in a different industry to your startup, working full or part time will teach you skills that’ll come in useful down the line. Whizz with spreadsheets? That’ll be great when you’re organising a financial forecast. Excellent with customers? Perfect for when your business opens its doors. Specific skills in fields such as design, law, accounting, marketing? Invaluable. Take these day job skills and apply them to your startup – your product or service will be the better for it.

Keeps you connected

Running a startup can be a lonely life in the early, all-consuming days, especially if your startup’s office is your home. Jobs can be brilliant for preventing you ending up chatting to your cat whilst realising you’ve been in the same pyjamas for a week, just through the simple action of getting you out of the door. And, particularly if your startup is in a similar industry to your job, you could also make valuable connections.


Get the Virgin StartUp Business plan