How to fit in a startup alongside your job

One of the biggest challenges facing any entrepreneur is time management - and when you're combining a new business with an existing job, this becomes harder still. Where do you find the time? Anywhere you can, seems to be the answer. A survey we ran found that 50% of working entrepreneurs worked on their business before work, a massive 91% worked on it after work, followed very closely by 88% working on it at the weekend. A cheeky 37% even worked on their business during work hours.

Helen Tupper is the founder of Amazing If, as well as the Head of Consumer at Virgin Red, and no stranger to working out how to juggle demanding commitments whilst staying calm and collected. Here are her tips for fitting it all in. Helen will also be talking at our 'Bit On The Side' meetup next week, discussing how to fit in starting up with working full-time - get your ticket now.

If you’re inspired to start a business alongside your job, one of the first challenges that often crops up is the question: ‘How can I fit it all in?’ The idea of setting up a business alongside a full time job can seem like a daunting hurdle to overcome, and it stops a lot of people before they even get started. But as someone who juggles a full time job, a business, studying for an MBA and a baby, I can assure you it's possible! It’s not always easy, but you there are things in your control that can certainly help. I’ve been spinning all these plates for a few years now, and there are five things I’ve learnt that I hope will help you if you’re ready to put inspiration into action.

Find your productive time

There are 168 hours in a week - spend some time reflecting on how you use them.

helen tupper week

You can draw this up really easily like I’ve done, or put it in a spreadsheet if you’re that way minded. Either way, you want to look at how your week breaks down and ask yourself, firstly, does it feel good? And, secondly, where could I take some time out to do something new? It might be you have a  long commute, or you spend a lot of time in the evening watching TV. Or perhaps you just have a big glut of time over the weekend that just seems to disappear, and you’re not really sure what you’ve done! This is prime time to recapture for your business. Start turning this lost time into productive time by taking back 1-2 hours a week. Laura Vanderkam writes some great articles on how you can use your time more wisely, if this seems like a good starting place for you.

Get organised

Juggling all  your different priorities will generate lots of different actions, and keeping up with them can be hard! There are some great apps like ToDoist, Evernote and Asana that can help you get organised. Or, if you’re more of a pen and paper person, have a look at bullet journaling.

Hold yourself to account, but don’t beat yourself up

You’ll need to set yourself realistic goals to achieve, and plan your time and actions in order to achieve them. This is really important for your momentum and your motivation. However, the reality of having a ‘bit on the side’ is that sometimes life gets in the way. You’ll need to be flexible and accept that you can’t do everything all of the time. Sometimes, when my work is really busy, I have to put less time into my business. Or, if my little boy Henry is poorly, everything has to drop while he takes priority. As long as you’re moving forward, don’t beat yourself up if everything doesn’t quite go to plan.

Do what you love, avoid what you loathe

You’re going to need to use your time wisely in order to fit everything in. If you’re going to make a commitment to develop your ‘bit on the side’, make sure it’s something you really love! Working on things that you love actually gives you more energy rather than absorbing it. If you’re time is being spent on things that you don’t love doing, start thinking about how you can minimise them. Would someone else enjoy doing it? Could you get it done first thing in the morning so that it’s out of the way and you can forget about it? Find your answers and take action!

Challenge your limits - don’t limit your challenges

Often, we put limits in place based on what we’re doing now, but without even trying how can we know what we can really achieve? When I launched my business, I didn’t have a great plan for what it was going to be and how I was going to manage my time - I just knew that if it was something I loved doing, something that made a positive difference to other people, I’d find a way to make it work. Often other people will try to impose their limits on you because they have a fixed mindset about what can be achieved! Don’t let your own limits or other people’s limits hold you back before you’re tried to challenge them.

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