jump in to business ownership

Should you ease- or jump-in to business ownership?

Starting a new business is both exciting and terrifying. One of the biggest questions for any prospective entrepreneur is whether to ease into business ownership on a part-time basis or to just jump right into a full-time venture feet first.

Is one approach better than the other? I spoke to a few women business owners in Winnipeg to discover their opinions on the subject.

Deb Dawson-Dunn is the owner of Get it Dunn, a professional coaching business. Deb started her business full-time and even began her own training to be a coach while her business was launching. What worked well with her jump start? “The best part about diving right into everything at once was being completely immersed. There were no other distractions or commitments that could pull my focus away from the business. As a result, I achieved much faster results and established my foundations more quickly,” Deb said.

Jacqueline Nagy, owner of Holistic Directions, a coaching and training business with a neuro-linguistic approach, also started her venture on a full-time basis. Jacquie says this option allowed her to “have total focus” on her business from day one.

Starting a business full-time minimizes distractions and keeps you concentrating on important tasks. It can also ensure you don’t get burned out in the early stages trying to maintain two careers.

The flexibility of setting your own schedule will help if you need to attend networking events and arrange client meetings during regular business hours.

What about the benefits of starting a part-time venture? My own business briefly started out as full-time before moving into part-time status. The biggest benefit to this approach was financial. A steady income allowed me to focus on building the business without the pressure of having to worry about rent money or groceries. It meant I didn’t have to take just any job that came my way and I had ample time to adjust to the life of an entrepreneur.

But every choice has its downsides. Each business owner I spoke to mentioned the same problem with starting a full-time venture: money. Rolande Kirouac, owner of Spadrole, is a Certified Laughter Yoga Teacher. While predisposed to focus on the positive aspects of business life, Rolande did feel the money strain. “The first challenge was the constant worry about the financial stability of my business. Having ups and downs in my financial statements had an influence on my own self-esteem; this would impact my capacity to think positive and stay focused on building the business. I had to accept that this would be a phase I had to go through and that it would get better.”

Financial stress can force you to make decisions differently. “Not having money coming in while I was working full-time on the business certainly required more creativity on my part! It was overwhelming at times to know how much I had to do because I needed to generate revenue. For the first few years I took jobs and clients that weren’t always the best fit for my business which was hard because it meant not always enjoying my work.” Deb said.

The financial struggle makes a part-time start more attractive, but the biggest stress with that choice is time. You constantly have to juggle your full-time job with your passion and your personal life. It can be quite frustrating when the bill-paying job seems to get in the way of your dream. And it can be harder to network and meet clients during the day. You may also have to turn down large projects that come your way, because you just can’t complete them by the required deadlines.

If you will be taking a part-time approach, there are a few things you can look for in a “day job” that might reduce this stress. Finding a job that works odd hours (evenings or weekends) would allow you to meet clients and attend more events. Using a different skill set and working in different conditions in your job may keep you from experiencing burnout in your business. For example, if your business requires copious amounts of time in front of a computer, you may want to avoid a second job with the same conditions.

The financial hardships of a full-time business can be mitigated if you have a partner with a steady income. Good planning can also help. Having start-up funds and living expenses saved ahead of time can give you breathing room when you launch your venture. You can also run a business full-time while maintaining a second job part-time during your launch stage.

The obstacles of each option can be overcome if you truly want to be an entrepreneur. When asked, Rolande and Jacquie said they would still choose the full-time option if they were starting over.

Deb provides solid advice to anyone trying to make this critical decision. “I still think there are merits to both approaches. I often coach my clients about making this kind of transition and usually we create a strategy that uses a blend of both – creating a solid exit strategy from the current job, establishing or beefing up their network, doing the research about the market and getting financials in place so that they can move into the full time business more quickly and easily. The most important aspect to consider in a decision like starting a business is who you are as a person and what would create the most joy for you!”

Susan Portelance  |  www.prairiescribe.com
Susan Portelance is a freelance writer, editor and storyteller. She owns Prairie Scribe in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, and helps her clients craft quality communications, from web content and case studies to ebooks and blogs.