Take baby steps when planning a business while still employed

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This month’s Get a Life issue focuses around a topic hot in the minds of potential entrepreneurs:

How do I find time to plan my business when I have the responsibilities of a day job, errands and family?

Here are some ways I came up with (details in the article link above):

  1. Create a master list of all the tasks for your new venture to free your mind of keeping track of too many details
  2. Remove one non-essential task from your week and replace it with "startup only time"
  3. Make sure you alternate "must do" tasks with "want to do" tasks
  4. Get a "mastermind partner"
  5. Take a class where you have specific assignments that will force you to accomplish tasks on your list
  6. Get assistance from an outside agency or coach
  7. If small steps don’t work, take a chunk of time off to work on your project

I know I have some people who have made the leap to entrepreneurship successfully as well as hard core Getting Things Done aficionados as readers.  What other tips can you think of to free up some time in your day to work on your dream venture?

12 Responses to “Take baby steps when planning a business while still employed”

  1. Jiri Cihar says:

    Because I try to run my own company targeting excel based developing services, I was very inspired by the article “Starting Your Own Company” at (surprisingly) Microsoft web

    According the ratings depicts at bottom, more then 1000 visitors considered the article as useful. Try It.

    My regards


  2. free says:

    I love the idea of just doing one thing. This is slightly off topic, but I know that in order for me to be successful with getting anything done, I need to change up my environment. I just can burn the midnoght oil at home without going crazy. So I look up wi-fi spots and actually book myself some time to knock out all of my startup tasks.

  3. Along the same line as the other commenters: My favorite “tip” — get 1 thing done a day. Maybe that’s just a brain dump to your to-do list. Or maybe it’s pushing your alpha release out to your hosting company and testing it. In other words, big or small, just do *something*. I find that if you do 1 thing, you gain some momentum and may do 5 or 6 things. And if you don’t, then at least you haven’t lost your momentum completely.

    My other advice? Talk to everyone you know and meet about your project (ok, maybe not your dayjob coworkers…). For me the critical piece is motivation, and talking to people is the best way for me to motivate myself and get positive feedback (which I know I need…).

  4. Howdy Pam,

    I didn’t know where else I could give you this link, but thought you might enjoy the video, simply because of the cubicle reference.



  5. What about trying to work part time at your day job so that you can spend part of your workday persuing your new business venture? When I was in the process of becoming an author and publishing my book on twentysomething workplace survival, I arranged to work 25 hours a week at my marketing communications job so that I could devote solid time to my new career. It won’t be possible for everyone, but it definitely won’t happen if you won’t at least consider it.

    I love your blog have just linked to it from my Water Cooler Wisdom blog at http://www.getthejob.com.

    Alexandra Levit
    Author, They Don’t Teach Corporate in College: A Twenty-Something’s Guide to the Business World

  6. The key for me thus far has been focusing on projects and tasks. I want to do it all, but realize I can’t do everything & it is better to make real, tangible progress than have 20 1/2 a**ed things going. I am VERY creative with fitting things in.

    While I, too, have less free time in the evenings and weekends while I build my business and have burned oil past my bedtime, I have to say that this is a marathon event, not a sprint. And, as such you can’t maintain a burn the midnight oil mentality week in and week out if you plan on being successful. At least that’s my take…for me it’s a sure path to burnout and health issues. While it is needed now & then (on those holy crap I have a proposal to do, my clients to serve, etc etc all in one night times) — it is certainly not my mode of operation.

  7. Tim Freund says:

    I’m still a citizen of cubicle nation, but I’m getting closer to freedom all the time.

    I agree with Robert, although tonight my sugar of choice was apple pie and Cherry Coke. My midnight oil bill was huge in August!

    Justin Beller has a great point as well. Make progress each day, no matter how small. For the programmers out there, Google “Fire and Motion” for an excellent article by Joel Spolsky on the subject.


    Good for you Tim! May your escape come quickly and without a pack of dogs chasing you. 🙂


  8. The latest issue of Entrepreneur magazine has an article that encourages folks to look at the journey of starting a business in 10 minute increments. Create the master task list as suggested but break it down by asking what you can do in 10 minutes time that will get you one step closer to accomplishing your overall goal of starting your own. When you complete that task, cross it off your list.

    I think one thing that gets in the way of folks from making their dream of starting their own business come true is that task list. It appears daunting, but by tackling the tasks it takes to reach the mountain top one at a time you reach your goal before you know it. What is it they say? Slow and steady wins the race.

  9. Gail says:

    Hi Pamela,

    This is good advice. I made my prison break from Corporate America to start my own business back in April. This was something in the works for about a year. One of the first things I did was get my finances in order so that I could determine a “cut-off” (quit) date. I don’t yet have children, but I do have a mortgage.

    I also hired a coach who specializes in people making these exact transitions. He kept me on track and accountable for the things that had to be done. However, it took a great deal of dedication, determination and LOTS of burning the midnight oil to make it all happen.

    I’ve never looked back and haven’t regretted any bit of it. My first book will be out sometime in October (which is what my blog is about).


  10. H. de las C. says:

    In the era of communications, i would recommend also make a list for the tasks to be achieved in each one specific day (a list that has to be rebuilt taking account of the pending list of the prior day).

    Group them not only by “media” but also by duration.

    There are some phone calls that can done while commuting, and you can buy something needed while going to/coming from lunch. Also, getting out some five minutes earlier can give you the margin needed to make an important phone call before your target leaves for lunch.

    Somethings, definetively, will need you to ask for time for “personal affairs” or a “car problem” (choose very well the -real and important- thing that will produce you to lie, as people is always very suspicious and they really notice when something is going on (or someone is at something)… and we don’t want them whispering around the corner, right?

    But in my opinion, most of the pending things can be allocated in small amounts of time along the day to be resolved.

    Hope it helps (and excuse my english… I’m spanish)


    Hola H. de las C.!

    No hay razon de perdonar su ingles … es bien mejor que mi espanol!

    Gracias por las ideas. Le deseo mucha suerte y felicidad en su trabajo y vida.



  11. Joe says:

    Hey Pamala,

    This is my first time here, but it won’t be the last.

    One of the main things I try to impress on my readers (and myself) is to make a game plan and try to stick to it as best they can.

    Oh, before I forget, the reason I stopped by is I included your blog on my list of linkees for Blog Day.

    In short, you find a 5 new blogs to introduce to your readers in your niche.



  12. Robert says:

    cookies, coffee, coffee, gotta stay awake, cookies……coffee, gotta finish this last report…….coffee, matchsticks to keep eyesszzzzzzzzzzz!

    Yeah well we know who burnt midnight oil last night don’t we???!! Heehee!


    You busted me Robert! No one is supposed to know that I was up until 1am writing the newsletter last night, fueled by ice cream and leftover birthday cupcakes. Pardon the too much information, but thank god I breastfeed, or I would be 300 pounds.