Is there such a thing as a part-time entrepreneur--someone who builds a side business, but still works as an employee?

The number of part-time entrepreneurs is bigger than you might think. The number of American entrepreneurs recently hit record highs. A whopping 15-20% of the workforce is engaged in some form of entrepreneurship. Most of these are kitchen table businesses, and few are burgeoning into tomorrow's Apple or Google. But the statistics point to something unshakably real: Part-time entrepreneurship is possible.

Possible? Yes. Desirable? Maybe.

It's a decision that you have to make. Can you succeed at your day job, while building a business from scratch?

If you want to make a go of entrepreneurship, and cling to the income-generating security of a full-time job, I applaud you. The journey is full of rewards, but not without risks. Here are nine things you need to know about the road ahead.

1. Make sure your legal ducks are in a row.

You don't want to start out your venture on the wrong foot--in legal trouble. Many employers require that their employees sign a non-compete agreement. What is a non-compete agreement? Basically, it means you can't use your job skills for anyone but your current employer.

The whole issue is a bit more complex, so make sure you understand your limitations before launching your business.

2. Your existing job will help you to become a full-time entrepreneur.

On the one hand, you're making a smart move. Why? Because money. That's why.

Entrepreneurship can be expensive. Rarely does a business materialize out of the absence of dollars and cents. Many entrepreneurs have been able to bootstrap their business, and drum up clients using nothing but sweat equity and rumbling stomach.

Most entrepreneurs, however, prefer to eat, have a roof over their heads, and keep the lights on. In the absence of a massive nest egg or a rich relative, you may need to keep your day job in order to keep the lights on during your moonlighting days.

3. You will feel limited.

There is brutal handcuffed feeling that you will undoubtedly experience: Massive limitation. Instead of drumming up business, spiffing up your website, or generating sales, you're chained in the confines of your cubicle.

This is the reality of the part time entrepreneur. There is always more you can do on your business. But due to the constraints of time, there is only so much you will do.

4. You might burn out.

It's coming for you--burnout. As sure as death and taxes, entrepreneurs struggle with burnout. Those who are the greatest risk for burnout are the ones who are trying to do juggle a full-time position with a part-time entrepreneurial venture.

There are ways to avoid it, and avoid it you should. Burnout can bring your fledgling business to the brink of destruction, and will jeapordize your day job, too. Work hard, but don't burn.

5. You need help. (family)

The solo entrepreneur isn't really solo. She has help. It may be coming from a cheerleading family member, a supportive boss, a tech-savvy friend, and even strangers with free advice.

I recommend that entrepreneurs recruit a cofounder to help balance the workload and share the responsibility. Even family members--a spouse, your kids--can jump in and support the business in creative ways.

6. This isn't a side hustle anymore.

We love our side hustles. Whether it's pawning junk on Craigslist or giving music lessons, many people have an on/off relationship with part time entrepreneurship.

That's fine and good. But if you envision a future where you can give up your day job and rely on your side hustle, it's time to stop viewing it as a side hustle. It's a business now--a growing, thriving, evolving business. And you? You're the CEO.

Reset your perspective, so you can pursue productivity with the kind of laser-focused determination that your business deserves.

7. Do the part-time dance only as long as you need to.

When your business is ready to spread its wings and fly, then it's time for you to turn in your two-week notice. You've earned the right to commit yourself full-time to your entrepreneurial passion.

How do you know when it's time? A good rule of thumb is when the income from your part-time business is generating at least as much as your full-time job. Either that, or you have the real potential to earn that much if you are able to commit your full-time hours to the work.

8. Treat it like a real job.

Do your best to treat your entrepreneurial job like a real job. It is, for all practical purposes, a very real job. It may not have its own corporate bureaucracy, a copy room, and a Bunn coffee maker, but it's a real job nonetheless.

To treat it like the reality it is, I recommend that you set a regular schedule for working on it. Whether it's nights, weekends, or lunch hours, create your schedule and stick to it.

9. Fight the fear that keeps you from committing.

Every entrepreneur faces fear. Risk entails fear. And risk is what entrepreneurship is all about.

If you give in to your fear and cling to security, you are resisting the very risk that forces you to success. Comfort zones are a good place to hide from success. When the time comes to pull the plug on the real job, thumb your nose at the fear, and go for it.

Conclusion

As necessary as it is, part-time entrepreneurship is a prison. On the one hand, you're tied to your job. On the other, you're not able to give your business the time and attention it needs. This is a position of entrapment and limitation.

Eventually, something will need to give. If you hustle your hardest to make your business a success, then your day job will give. If you huddle closer to the security of your day job, then your entrepreneurial visions will fizzle and die.

Part-time entrepreneurship will get you where you want to go, but it's surely not the destination. Eventually, you'll be enjoying a new kind of intensive and empowering experience the full-time entrepreneur.

Have you tried part-time entrepreneurship?

Published on: Sep 17, 2015