You don’t always need to choose between entrepreneurship or a 9–5.
I never thought when I first started my business that I would go back to working full time. One of the reasons I started a business was because I healed myself from burning out in my corporate career. I was just as disillusioned as the next person about the structure of corporations, and I was not up for giving up my individuality anymore.
I thought the answer was entrepreneurship — having control over my schedule, the way I do my work. To some extent that’s true. My business is in healing and life guidance, and so I tried to move as far away as I could from my experience in marketing. Except something odd kept happening. I kept being asked to help using my marketing skills by family friends, people in my network, and recruiters.
While building my business, I decided to help some family friends with their marketing on a freelance basis. I listened to the signs I was getting, even though it didn’t make sense to me. I thought I could only have one or the other: a business or a full-time job. I thought I was done with the marketing career I had built.
Eventually, after freelancing for a couple of years, I realized I wanted a full-time role where I could see myself growing over the next five years. I never thought I’d want to be in this type of career again, but in this process, I realized that I just had to pick the right job to make it work with my business. And you can do the same.
While we’re conditioned to choose one or the other (and having both isn’t for the faint of heart), there are more benefits to having a full-time career and a business than you would think. Let’s be honest, it’s a tempting concept: leave a career you despise and start your own company — be your own boss. I hear you, that is ideal. But just like a 9-5 career, it comes with its downsides too.
I fell prey to that dangerous ideology, and it took me going through the experience to realize I could have the best of both worlds.
Here are some of the benefits of growing a side business alongside your full-time career:
Learn skills with less of a margin for failure.
You can use your full-time job to learn new skills that you can apply to your business. Instead of all the financial success riding on trying out different strategies and offerings, you can work with a company that has a set of clear goals that you can provide value to with your skillset.
By doing this, you’re building the experience and skills you absolutely need to run a business, but you have a guaranteed income while you’re learning in real-time. The bonus is you have an already-established business model to work with to see the success and outcomes of your efforts.
They typically already have figured out the services and providers to use that you can then model in your own business. For example, in my current full-time role as a Digital Marketing Manager, I’m helping redesign the website, build an email funnel, and grow our YouTube channel with a professional camera and editing. I wouldn’t have been able to do this type of strategy early in my business because of the amount of work, knowledge, and money it takes. Now that I’m learning this in my full-time role, I can apply it to my business.
This also gives you the creative freedom to try different strategies in your business without the pressure to make money. In the book Big Magic, Elizabeth Gilbert says that you should never put financial pressure on your creative expression, and from my experience, I wholeheartedly agree. She says, “But to yell at your creativity, saying, ‘You must earn money for me!’ is sort of like yelling at a cat; it has no idea what you’re talking about, and all you’re doing is scaring it away, because you’re making really loud noises and your face looks weird when you do that.”
When I was trying to grow my business without a full-time job, I had to sacrifice a lot of things that bring me joy, like travel, a beautiful home, and spending money on clothes and dinners out with friends. I didn’t have the expenses needed to do this. This impacted my level of creativity in the offerings I put out. Now that I work full time in a career I enjoy, I have the income to hire coaches, freelance support, website, and social media design, and other business expenses.
As a result, this is helping me grow my business more than if I was trying to do it all alone and not working full time. I also live in a luxury condo on my own, which would be a lot harder to do during the early stages of the business building where income is not consistent.
I realized I value having a beautiful space to live in, money to spend on trips with friends, clothes that make me feel good, and the ability to hire support. It’s helping me show up fully in my creativity, and that was not how I was showing up when I was putting all the pressure on growing my business.
Learn how to build a culture.
When you work for a company whose values align with yours, you get to experience a culture that you would like to emulate in your own company. For example, in the company I’m working at, the values and mission are clearly laid out and I’m experiencing what it’s like to work at a company where your voice is valued and there is a camaraderie between everyone at all levels of the company.
People’s lives outside of work are valued and celebrated. The company wants you to have a life outside of work because they know that will be what makes you happy, balanced, and productive at work. Bonuses are given on a regular basis and a new performance management tool was put in place to support career growth.
The benefits are fantastic, and I love that professional development is compensated for and that I have flexibility in my role of working at home when I want to. This gives me great ideas that I’m applying to my growing leadership team. See what you like in a company and take what you like from that to apply to your own business. By the way, you might find you have more funds to hire a team sooner than you would without a full-time job.
Gain more creative freedom.
Lots of careers don’t have full creative freedom, especially in the corporate world. At the end of the day, even in non-corporate companies, the final say for projects and initiatives comes from people at the top level of the company. However, you can still experience the creative freedom you seek in your own business while you work full time.
This is why I took a job where I do have a certain level of creative freedom, but in my business, I get to express the full creative freedom and control that I want. Any change I want to get to make in my business, I can, with no red-tape or approval needed. You can use your business as your creative outlet that you wouldn’t necessarily have in your full-time job. This in turn helps with your satisfaction at work while building your business.
Build your network.
What I found when I first started my business was that I was at home a lot more, and part of my business is network marketing-based. So what I actually needed was to be meeting more people. It wasn’t until I took a temp job in 2019 that my business grew significantly because I worked at a big company meeting tons of people and visitors to the company.
I put two and two together and realized that I was benefitting from meeting people in my day-to-day more than I was at home or in co-working spaces. While you’re growing your business, you want as many people as possible to know what you’re doing. Networking is huge at the start of your business, so having a full-time role where you’re interacting with people and getting to know them is key for referrals and clients. This is free face-time to grow your business.
Learn how to manage your time.
When you work full-time and have your own business, you’re going to learn time management skills by necessity. When I was growing my business at first, I would say yes to EVERYTHING. I said ‘yes’ to every coffee date, ‘yes’ to every workshop someone asked me to do, and ‘yes’ to every collaboration. This is also called shiny object syndrome and is common with entrepreneurs just starting out.
Then when I started working full-time, I had to be very selective with my time. Because when I continued saying yes to everything, I was getting burnt out and unable to function. So out of necessity, I had to become much more selective with the opportunities I would take on, and this not only benefited my mental health but my business as well. Sometimes you need the necessity of managing time and being selective when first starting your business.
Popular personal development entrepreneur and Youtuber Matt D’Avella talks about the three-year rule when starting any endeavor. In his called “The real truth about chasing your dreams,” Matt says it takes three years to find success in any field. As I’m in the third year of my business, I can see how this is such incredible advice. It takes time for things to come together, and most people severely underestimate the amount of work and time it takes to grow a business.
By sticking to growing your business and working at it for at least three years, with the support of a full-time job that will fast track you in the ways I shared above, you can ensure your success in pursuing your passions while being financially sound and fulfilled in your full-time career concurrently.
So ignore the advice that says you need to choose between entrepreneurship or a 9-5. As you can see from my experience, working full-time while growing your business will get you to where you want to be faster than you may realize.