Why You Don’t Have to Leave Your Day Job to Start a Business

If you’re ready to start a business or side hustle, but are currently working a 9 to 5, you may be debating which is a better option: going all in and leaving your day job to commit to your dream full-time OR juggling both until you’re financially ready to take the leap.

When I was preparing to leave corporate America to start my first business, I felt a lot of pressure to burn the boats—to leave my day job to devote all of my time and resources to starting my business. I saw on SharkTank and heard from entrepreneurial circles; the more committed I was to making my dream a reality, the more likely it was to work.

So that’s what I did. I left corporate America without a single client to my name, and went all in on making my dreams a reality… I wish I could say everything worked effortlessly from that point on, but the truth is, while going all-in had its advantages, there were DEFINITELY some disadvantages too. In hindsight, I no longer believe it’s the BEST or ONLY way to do things. 

But it was mine. So below, I’ll share a few pros and cons so you can decide what’s right for YOU.

Pros of Leaving Your Day Job to Start a Business

As you may suspect, leaving your 9 to 5 to start a business definitely forces you to get serious from the start. Because you no longer have a steady income to rely on, from day one, it’s ALL on you to make things work. As such, you become very motivated to do so!

Here are a few other pros of committing full-time to your business.

Gives You More Time and Energy for Your Business

Instead of having to juggle a day job, side hustle, and all the usual responsibilities of life, your focus gets to be on one thing: making your business successful. 

Creates Clarity 

I also had an easier time explaining what I did (one new thing) versus having to explain how I was juggling a day job and a new venture. This was actually part of my thought-process in leaving my 9 to 5 — I thought I could be better at doing one thing than doing two things half and half, and I thought my future clients would have more faith in me if I was solely focused on and committed to ONE thing.

Forces You to Get Scrappy and Uplevel Quickly

I invested in things that I never would have if my back wasn’t against the wall to figure things out. While it may seem counterintuitive, because I no longer had a regular paycheck coming in, I actually invested in MORE expensive training programs than I ever had before, because I so desperately wanted to make things work. While I wouldn’t necessarily recommend that strategy these programs did uplevel me into communities where people were talking about money and mindset in a way that I had NEVER thought of before. 

Value given is value received. So those programs cost me a lot, but they gave me even more. While I had to pay them back over time, and that created some stress and even shame, I don’t regret going this route as my life would be completely different without it.

Cons of Leaving Your Day Job to Start a Business

However, with the positives come several downsides. 

Funky Financial Dynamic and Debt

I used up my savings, and when those ran out, turned to credit cards. Before I got into business, I NEVER expected to take on more than my savings; I figured that once that account dried up, I would have to head back to a corporate job. 

But by the time I got to that point, I was so committed to making things work. I invested in training programs, Facebook ads, whatever seemed like the recommended next step — the missing thing that would make it all click.

It took me months to get out of that debt (through content-writing, wink wink). But I felt so much shame and guilt over having debt, and that’s one of the perks of maintaining your day job — you have money coming in to invest in your business or pay your bills as it gets off the ground.

May Lead To Making Decisions From Scarcity

Not having a financial cushion of a day job can create some feelings of scarcity, as it did for me. You may be tempted to make rash decisions in order to bring in income quickly, but not in a way that you would truly choose for your business if you had spare cash. For example, I used to follow sales scripts that didn’t feel entirely aligned for me, but that a sales expert said I HAD to use in order to get clients. In hindsight, I would’ve grown slowly and done things in a way that felt more aligned to me. And having more of a financial cushion from a 9 to 5 could’ve helped with that.

What Other Experts Have Done

The truth is, there are many ways to build a business, and many people navigate juggling a day job as they build a side hustle. 

Gabby Bernstein, now a best-selling author and motivational speaker, ran a public relations business while building her spiritual coaching practice. One day, when she was lamenting to her mentor about balancing both, he said to her, “Gabby, your business is a venture capitalist for your dream.” Meaning, stick it out a little longer because your day job is funding your dream until it’s ready to stand on its own.

Marie Forleo, another best-selling author, waited tables and was a bartender while building her empire. Years later, she has spoken for Oprah’s Super Soul Sessions, written a best-selling book, and built a million-dollar business via online courses.

Sarah Blakely, founder of the billion-dollar shapewear brand Spanx, didn’t quit her job selling fax machines until her product was literally signed and in stores across Neiman Marcus. 

The point is: if you don’t feel like you have the resources to dive straight into your brand-new business (or you just don’t feel comfortable doing so) do things YOUR way. There’s no one way to create the business of your dreams, and your timeline will be right for YOU.

How to Juggle a Side Hustle and a Day Job

If you feel more comfortable staying in your corporate position until you feel fully ready to make the transition to your business, here are a few questions to help you balance both AND make the most of where you are now.

What Can You Cut From Your Schedule?

It’s not easy to balance full-time work with a side hustle. You will have to become a ninja about your time! So, what can you delegate out? Maybe housekeeping or even childcare for a few hours per week so you can focus on building your dream. Maybe instead of spending an hour cooking each night, you meal prep on the weekends. Maybe instead of grocery shopping, you use an online delivery app. Maybe there are a few social commitments that you don’t really even WANT or NEED to be at, which you can cut from your schedule.

Carve out a few hours per week (at least) to go heads down and focus on your dream. It doesn’t have to be a TON of time, but the more you can clear out distractions or remove needless commitments, the easier it will be to keep momentum.

How Can You Get Creative?

For example, I used to listen to audiobooks about business during my hour-long commute and watch business YouTube videos while on the treadmill at the gym. What task can you pair with another that supports your business?

How Can You Leverage Your Current Position?

You are not stuck! What you are doing now will absolutely serve you later. What you are learning now in work — whether sales skills, accounting platforms, or project management tools — will absolutely serve your business one day. I am so grateful today for even seemingly unconnected skills I gained working entry-level jobs (like event coordination or graphic design) because now I am incredibly efficient with project management or graphics. 

And remember, the people you work with now may become your first customers. I know it may not seem like it now, but you will be surprised who will be inspired by what you do and want to be part of it later. Really get to know your colleagues, invest in them, and be someone they would want to support one day.

Lastly, many employers are happy to invest in training programs or conferences. Are there any skills you could learn more about, which would serve your current career and your one-day business? Maybe you could take a copywriting course, learn website publishing, or attend a conference.

Remember: what you are doing now WILL serve you one day. Remember that, and make the most of the season you are in!

Whether you’re ready to leave your full-time career to start your business OR see yourself balancing both for a time, I hope these pros and cons serve you in deciding which one is right for you. Take your time, know that your journey is unlike anyone else’s, and trust your intuition to guide you to the right decision for you.

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