4 Signs It’s Time to Focus on Your Startup Full Time
For many budding founders, launching a company is a gradual process as many of them have full time jobs and must gracefully transition from employees to entrepreneurs. However, at some point a founder must make the decision to quit their job and focus exclusively on their own growing company. If you're not sure when to make the change, this syndicated post by Girls in Tech will help you figure out when the time is right.
Launching your own company is exhilarating. You’re taking the reins of your fate, doing what you’ve always wanted, and rolling with the highs and lows of startup life. Only, there’s this one thing: you’ve still got to pay rent. And eat.
To maintain some stability (and be able to eat!) while in the earliest stages of a startup, many entrepreneurs tackle their startup from the sidelines by moonlighting. They approach it like a beloved side project, attending to it in the quiet morning hours; late into the evenings; on the weekends; or, sneaking off during their “day job” lunch break for a hurried phone meeting.
There’s some obvious pros and cons to doing this. Keeping your day job is your lifeline to stability, in the form of a paycheck. And that paycheck is also your first path to funding your dream. However, you can’t treat your startup like a side gig forever. Treat it like a side gig and it’s going to be a side gig, and investors aren’t too interested in founders who only work a few hours a week.
Are you on the fence about whether to work on your startup full time? Here are four ways to know it’s time to make the commitment to working on your startup full time.
1. You reach a workload tipping point
Working on your startup on the side works, but only for a while. At some point, workload or work-life circumstances may force you to go one way or the other. Your real job may send you on a project that requires travel thousands of miles from home, forcing you to make a decision about priorities and passion. Or, you lose your day job, allowing you to work on your startup full time, guilt-free and worry-free. Or, the workload required by the startup may reach a tipping point. At some point, there’s literally just too much to be done on the side. This happened to Girls in Tech’s founder and CEO, Adriana Gascoigne, making her decision to go full time with Girls in Tech easy.
“We were preparing for our fourth Catalyst Conference, in 2015. We were scrambling to finalize details, secure high profile speakers, sell tickets and rally sponsors to help cover production costs. I knew then that I had to quit my marketing job to do Girls in Tech full time. Looking back, I had no other choice. In hindsight, it was the best decision ever.”
2. You’re losing focus
There’s only so many hours in the day and well, there’s only one you. Are you truly able to focus on both your day job and your startup?
According to Entrepreneur writer and angel investor, Alan Lobock:
“If your instincts say no, you are probably correct. Trying to tackle a startup on a part-time basis greatly diminishes your chances of succeeding, especially if you’re going to require outside equity financing to start or grow the business.”
3. You need money
Clarification: you need a runway of funds. You need far more than what your savings or your monthly pay check can sustain. There will come a time in your startup where things get real. You need to hire contractors, you need to invest in resources and equipment, you need to invest real dollars into your marketing campaigns. Being scrappy and resourceful is one thing. At some point, you’re going to need money to make money.
“When you’re seeking investors and partners for your startup, you’re asking people to take a risk on your idea, and on you as a manager. But if you’re still working full time and actively trying to launch a business, this sends a clear message that you don’t believe in your idea enough to even take a risk on it yourself. That’s a huge red flag for investors.” - Justin Tobin, founder and president of DDG
Going full time may be intimidating and scary - but investors expect it when they’re handing over millions of bucks.
4. You hit a key milestone
Sometimes all it takes is drawing a line in the sand. It could be when you have a certain number of customers, when you’re working a certain number of hours a week, or when you’ve amassed a certain number of followers. Whatever it is, it’s a commitment to yourself that you’ve come so far. It validates your product, your idea, and it justifies the risk.
“I had grown my customer base to 250,000 users when businesses began to use it. I knew at this point, it was time to stop working my full time job and give 100 percent focus to my new journey.” - Diane Najm, founder and CEO of PhotoPad, a Seattle-based startup"
This post, "4 Signs It’s Time to Focus on Your Startup Full Time", from the Girls in Tech blog has been republished from Founder Institute blog.
Girls in Tech is a global organization focused on the engagement, education and empowerment of like-minded, professional, intelligent and influential women in technology.