How To Start A Business Whilst Working A 9-5
A little over a year ago, I thought that I would never have to work a 9-5 a day in my life.
I had this notion that business and entrepreneurship were extremely easy - people just didn't do it because they didn't really believe it's possible.
And that is partly true actually.
Lots of people have been so used to seeing nothing but financial struggle and ruin around them, that they grow up believing that you can't steer away from the social norm.
Going into the e-commerce business, then learning to trade forex, I always thought that "this was it!"
I wouldn't need to ever work a day in my life, all I had to do was master these skills and the money will start rolling in.
Let's just say that the last time I felt this ashamed, disappointed, and let down was when my high school crush said no.
I had the highest hopes and expectations.
I thought that I was about to make a name for myself, that I was going to be the one to show my family that it is possible if you just try.
But following every failed venture, I was left distraught, not knowing what to do.
I questioned if I was even capable of doing what it is that I wanted to do.
I even thought of following what society teaches and stepping back in line, finding a university to attend, and living out the rest of my life in depression and regret.
Once I finally came to my senses, I made the very tough decision that I needed to find a job.
So that's what I did.
My first job - the sales job - started on 17th August 2020.
I had to swallow my pride and ego and just go for it.
After all, in business, there are two underlying sacrifices you have to make in order to succeed.
They are either:
- Time or,
If you sacrifice your time, you never really know how long it'll take you to get to where you want to be.
You have to sacrifice time learning, trying, failing, adapting, and repeating the whole process.
Time means you're probably going to be doing everything on your own because you won't be spending money on hiring, mentors, or support from anyone.
On the other hand, money means you could possibly fast-track your way to success.
It's a lot easier said than done, but you'd still need the knowledge of running a business.
If you pay someone to build a business for you, it will collapse as fast as it was built because there's no structure or support holding it up.
Spending money does, however, let you skip out on some things - if you're starting a tech company, you can skip out on learning to code.
You would hire someone to help you code the product and can even then hire ongoing technical support by finding a CTO (chief technical officer).
There are trade-offs with either option, but usually, there's a delicate balance between the two that is needed to ensure success.
When I got my first job, it was in order to (at some point) be able to invest in my businesses rather than trying to be as frugal as possible.
I initially thought that "If I had $X, I'd be able to build a sustainable business easily."
I always believed money is the root of every problem.
I thought that all I needed to do was have money in the bank and then I'd easily invest it and boom - I'm rich!
When we analyse problems using the 5 Whys framework, we realise, however, that money isn't the root cause.
Deep down I knew that I had lied to myself.
Although money could have been used to get me out of where I was - I never had the right risk tolerance to be able to throw $12,000 out at a single time.
My first job, as I've explained in previous articles, was not the job that made me 'semi-rich.'
This job had gone so terribly, that I decided to leave a few days into September - less than a few weeks into the job.
It was actually the second job I had at Amazon that allowed me to save up a respectable amount.
I had previously anticipated that I'd only work for a few months before my marketing agency picks up and I leave the job.
The marketing agency was the business I was working on with my friends on the side whilst I worked at Amazon.
I was working upwards of 10 hours a day there, but I still managed to work around 6-8 hours on the agency too.
How was that possible?
How was I able to start a business whilst working a 9-5 too?
Split Up Your Day Effectively
From my own experience, the job I was working had different shifts set up.
For example, there was a morning shift, afternoon shift and then a night shift.
Initially, I was put on morning shift which I didn't like too much since it meant waking up at 3am in the morning to go to work at around 4am.
I slowly realised that this is actually beneficial to me because the latest I would end up finishing work could be 2pm in the afternoon.
This was working a 10-hour shift which never happened every day.
On the days where I worked 8 hour-long shifts, I would end up finishing work at 12pm.
This meant that until 12am, I would be able to work on the agency.
In the early days of the agency, it was a lot of learning using YouTube or Skillshare and some building too.
I would work at my job from 4am to 12pm (or 2pm some days).
When I get home, a little break would happen where I usually eat something and then I get into the learning.
I'd learn all about running an agency, the services we're going to offer, and also build the site.
After a while, we had the site built out, but it didn't look too great.
We still decided to go forward with it
I would go to work in the morning, and the afternoon was for reaching out to clients and building awareness.
If you're working a 9-5, you must understand the sort of sacrifice you're going to be making if you truly want to make it work.
I've previously spoken about business and how it doesn't necessarily take 24 hours a day to make it work.
Working a 9-5, however, does mean you'd have to put in more work in general to have a good balance.
Time management is one of the best skills you can learn, and I feel it's a lot easier to learn it whilst working a job.
I've noticed that when the ball is completely in my court, I do tend to get sluggish with how I manage my time.
Setting strict targets and guidelines helps a lot - similar to how I had set up my mornings and evenings.
Starting off, you don't have to account for every minute of the day, just split your day into parts.
Work With A Partner
A lot of people have mixed opinions about this one.
Working with a partner, in my experience, was fatal to the business.
However, there are many success stories out there of people who partnered and managed to make something work together.
It all depends on the partner you choose to work with.
My partner(s) were friends that I chose to work with because I thought that they ultimately had similar dreams and aspirations to me.
I learned the hard way that it doesn't end there.
Although you could have the same dreams and aspirations, there are those who go out and achieve their dreams.
The other type of people - my friends - are the type who only hope of achieving them.
You must find partners who align with your dreams, work ethic, and values.
This is because, you could find someone who seems like they'd be able to do the job but then find out that you have a very different viewpoint on the direction of the business.
Someone once told me that a partnership in business is like a relationship without the fun.
And it's true.
When I worked at Amazon, one of my partners had quit the agency and so it was only me and one friend left.
The day before, I would plan ahead and set tasks for the next day.
This made it easy for both of us to get to work without much procrastination.
Whilst I was at work, he would do his tasks, and by the time I was home, I would do mine.
During breaks, I would usually communicate with him via messaging to see where he was at and how he was doing.
Aside from the previous must-haves in a partner, I must add on communication.
This is the biggest red flag to me with a partner.
Working on a business with others means you should both put in equal amounts, parallel to what you're getting out.
If the relationship is a 50/50 split, you should both be present when needed, putting in the same amount of work.
This is why it was fatal in my instance.
Our passion for success did not align - and so we eventually also had to split.
Work Remotely Where Possible
During the pandemic, remote work had grown a tremendous amount compared to the years prior.
Although it has been on a steady rise pre-pandemic, 2020 led to this number skyrocketing.
This is a major difference from what the workforce is currently used to.
We've seen hundreds of businesses supplementing the remote working lifestyle also grow rapidly this past year, and this trend will likely carry on further.
Research studies also show that remote work has made employees happier and more engaged at work.
This is why a lot more companies over the next few months and years will be shifting to a more balanced (or completely remote) work style.
One of the biggest issues of having to travel to work is the long commute to and from work.
This can usually stretch out a few hours put together.
In my sister's case - who works as a doctor - she has to travel a few hours to and from work.
Working remotely will enable you to save hours of your day.
Although this could sound like it's not much, let's say you're able to save 2 hours a day from your commute.
That is 60 hours a month (or 44 hours only workdays).
This is then 720 hours a year (or 528 hours only workdays).
It takes on average 8.3 hours to read a 300-page book.
This means you could use these 2 hours daily to read between 63 and 86 books a year.
I've mentioned my favorite book that I recommend to everyone previously, but this is slightly unrealistic.
Even if you're able to read 20 books a year extra instead of spending 2 hours commuting daily, you would be a lot better than you previously were at the start of the year.
These 2 hours could be spent doing anything - working, learning, and anything else that moves the ball forward for you.
Even now, I feel like getting a part-time job would be beneficial to me.
Not only financially, but also to improve the structure of my day.
But I would only choose to work remotely, and for a company that I could learn a lot from - such as startups where I can work close to the C-suite team.
Maximise Your Time
Did you know that in an average 8-hour workday, we're only really productive for 2 hours and 53 minutes?
What is going on during the rest of the 5 hours?
All I know is that as humans, we are never productive for a long period of time.
There are many people who love bragging about working 12 hour days or some crazy numbers like that, but they may only really be productive for 3-5 of those 12 hours.
This is why it's important to truly know how to maximise your time.
You need systems in place which allow you to notice when you're being unproductive.
Taking a break instead of acting like you're being productive is a lot more beneficial to you.
you could also notice when you're being unproductive in order to get into something productive.
Going back to the example with commutes, not everyone has the luxury to work remotely.
I don't think my sister - being a doctor - would ever really have that luxury.
This is when using your commute times would be best utilised listening to podcasts or audiobooks, for example.
During your work breaks, you could be doing the same thing.
YouTuber Ali Abdaal created a few videos talking about how he managed to build a £3 million business whilst being a full-time doctor.
How about during the times you're at home?
This is where many people recommend using the Pomodoro technique - working in increments of 25 minutes, with 5-minute breaks between them.
On top of this, having a daily routine or target that you want to achieve will make it super simple to get back into work because you know exactly what you're aiming to achieve for that given day.
It's a lot easier to let yourself go because you don't necessarily have the same level of accountability that you have at work.
The final thing, which I have touched on already, is that you should plan.
Plan, plan, plan!
Planning is the easiest way to avoid procrastination.
Planning is the easiest way to structure your day and it makes it a lot easier to know if you were productive today since you can see if you hit your goals or not.
Beware: As humans, it's very easy to overestimate what we can do in a day.
So start by setting small goals and if you see that you're easily hitting them, add on more important things that need to be done.
Did you learn something from this article?
Did you learn something from this article?
Let me know below!
Till next time,