The Perks and Drawbacks of Working a Part-Time Job While Starting Your Own Business
For six months, I worked a part-time job while starting my own business. During that time, I realized that working part-time was not everything I imagined.
Right before the last day at my job, I was offered an opportunity to stay on part-time with the company. It was the perfect situation. They wanted my help on select projects and I was able to name some of the terms. We agreed to an average of 10 hours per week. Those hours would be worked from home and be completed anytime and day of the week of my choice. Accepting the offer allowed me to slowly exit the company I loved and still make some money while I started my own business. It seemed like there was no downside.
Boy, I was wrong. There were some perks but there was also some drawbacks that I did not plan for.
Chances are that if you’re starting your own business you are giving up income to do so. It could be that you are leaving a job, or it could be that you are not finding a new job working for someone else. The most obvious perk of accepting a part-time job is the ability to still earn money while you focus a majority of your time on your new business. You can find a job that helps to cover the bills, use the income to fund the company, or contribute to your savings.
For me, I was able to stock money away for a big upcoming vacation and some extras for a home renovation. This allowed us to still enjoy these items without having to dip into our savings. Instead, we could continue to have money saved away for a rainy day or to contribute to our business when the time was right.
My part-time job was a continuation of select projects from my full-time job. This meant that I would still be interacting with some of my co-workers that I had formed work relationships with over the previous years. Having them to interact with on projects helped to soften the transition.
Working on a business of your own can quickly take over your time. You can become so focused that you do not even realize that you are not allowing time for social interactions. Having co-workers, even on a part-time basis, allows you to continue to have those causal interactions you are used to in the office. Maybe it’s through a quick catch-up as you start a meeting together or through email as you send project updates. If your part-time job is retail or hospitality related, these conversations are most likely face-to-face. However, the conversations happen, for a small portion of the day you get to interact with other professionals on a common ground.
Having this interaction is important, even if you are in introvert like me. One of the most important things you can do for your business is network with others. Every conversation you have with a co-worker is an opportunity to promote your company. Chances are they know you are starting your own business and will ask you how it’s going. Take the opportunity to give them updates but don’t forget to make the conversation two-sided. Remember to ask about them and something going on in their life.
Starting a business can feel slow. This is especially true if you are in a business like mine where you have to make something before it can be sold. At times, when you’re having those conversations mentioned above, it can feel like a drain when people ask what is new with your business and you are stuck in the middle of months of product development.
For my new business, we were focused on creating an app that we would sell after it was fully developed. While we might be checking items off our milestone list, sometimes it was hard to really feel like we were accomplishing anything because we didn’t have a finished product to show. It was also hard to explain to others the accomplishments we were achieving.
Having a part-time job allowed me to feel like I was accomplishing something. I was completing projects and meeting deadlines. I was also being recognized by others for the outstanding work I was doing. In my part-time job, I had something to show for my time. The accomplishments were motivating and it drove me to want to achieve similar accomplishments on projects for my own business.
Simply reading the perks makes me want to consider seeing if I can have a new part-time contract. Having the job really helped me transition into my new role. However, I know that there were some drawbacks to working part-time that lead me to decide that it was time to give up my second job and focus solely on my own business.
Any time spent on my part-time job was time not spent on my own business. 10 hours a week does not seem like much when you think of how many hours there are in a week, but they add up. In the six months I had my part-time job, I dedicated approximately 270 hours to my part-time job. That’s 270 working hours not spent on my own business. I could have spent this time taking additional classes, attending more networking events, writing code, or anything else to move my business along. Instead, I made the decision to give the time to someone else.
If you take on a part-time job, you have to accept that any hour spent working that job is one less hour spent working on your own business.
If you’re starting a business where you’re not making money upfront, it can be easy to put a part-time job first. In my mind, I had a commitment to completing 10 hours of work a week for my part-time job because I was getting paid. Paid work was above the “free” work I was doing for my business. If it was a holiday week or a week where I took a day off for whatever reason, I still completed my commitment. This often meant that I worked fewer hours on my own business.
Mentally, it’s very easy to put your paid commitments before your own adventure. How can you pass up money when otherwise you would be making none? This was a challenge for me even though I had already proved to myself that I did not need the money. Should my priorities be the other way around? Yes, but for me, my commitment to others meant more than my commitment to myself.
You don’t have full control
A week after transitioning to my new schedule, I realized that I didn’t have the expected control over my part-time job. I had envisioned myself completing my part-time job during the evening hours or on weekends. This was not possible due to the need to meet with co-workers during business hours. The lack of control is true if you are in other industries. For example, if you’re working a restaurant job, you have no control over whether it will be a $100 sales night or a $1,000 sales night.
At times, you might feel what you are putting into your part-time job does not match your expectations. You have two options when this happens. Accept the reality, focus on the perks, and continue working your part-time job, or decide that the effort is not worth the reward.
For me, I decided on the latter. I wanted to dedicate the additional time to my own business. The projects I were working on for my part-time job were slowing down and I decided that I did not want to accept any additional projects. In my case, it ended up working out well because due to a shift in priorities, the company did not have any additional assignments to give to me at the time. They were trying to figure out if there was anything they could give me until they knew if bigger projects would be available. Mutually we decided that it was time for me to make a full exit from the company.
A part-time opportunity supplied me the needed perks as I made the transition to working for myself. If I went back in time knowing the drawbacks I know today, I would still accept the opportunity. For a short period of time, for me, the perks outweighed the drawbacks. However, if the same opportunity is presented to me in the future, I’m not sure I would be so quick to accept. I would have to evaluate the state of my business and decide if the loss of time is worth the gains I will receive.
Did you work, or are you working, a part-time job while starting your own business? Did you see any additional perks or drawbacks of working part-time?