It’s 8 PM and you just threw your laptop bag on the couch. Exhausted would be an understatement for describing your current state of mind.
What’s next on the evening’s itinerary? Perhaps a quick shower so that you only miss a few minutes of the latest news headlines, or rather, a long bath to help you forget some of your day’s useless meetings. Either way, not many hours stand between you and tomorrow’s daily grind.
Allow me to guess – picturing yourself in the above scenario is far too easy. Now add in a startup idea that needs to be nurtured, developed, and tested in order to eventually materialize.
Some entrepreneurs have already found themselves in a position where they wake up everyday and go to their own ‘office.’ Whether they are tenants in a building or own their workspace, they are often greeted by familiar faces, most likely their fellow business partners and/or first employees. However, many aspiring innovators are unable to leave their current professions in search of realizing their ideas. Their startup visions thus often turn into secondary concerns, with less hours left to commit to their realization. After all, running a startup wasn’t part of your current job description.
Keeping this situation in mind, how can we still maintain the desire to create/expand a startup while working or studying full-time? Below are some of my suggestions:
Stop thinking about your startup idea as a job.
At the end of the day, your ideas aren’t ‘jobs’; they therefore shouldn’t be treated as such. While executing a project from A to Z undoubtedly requires hard work, the passion you have for your startup should ultimately guide your thought process… not your future exit plans.
Limit your complaints about “lack of time”.
“I wish there were more than 24 hours in a day”. Sound familiar? I am guilty of this statement myself. Unfortunately, no matter how many times a week I repeat it, I never manage to obtain 25. Instead, try to coordinate a few weekend retreats and/or brainstorming sessions with your team, even if the latter means waking up an hour before you need to be at the office. Even short, albeit productive team sessions, may be tremendously effective.
Take advantage of conferences.
While this be may be a bit of a surprising suggestion, as a former Bizzabo employee, I understand the value of networking at conferences and events. The next time you find yourself on a work trip, whether to a small, corporate function or to a larger tech meet-up, do your best to connect with individuals of interest. You may even find potential partners and investors to collaborate with. If anything, you will have the opportunity to pitch your idea(s) and receive valuable feedback.
Use project management tools effectively.
Whether you choose to use post-it notes, Google spreadsheets, task manager apps, or project management software, keep up to date with new technologies that will help you stay on top of your tasks. Look into some of these to see if they are the right fit for your needs: Asana, Evernote, and daPulse.
Find (or hold onto) quality business partners.
Whether you are in school full-time or have a job that requires you to be on constant email alert, you will need help if you wish to build and develop your company. While finding trustworthy business partners and mentors that will share the same passion you have for your idea may be a job in it of itself, this will ultimately help shape and grow your startup. Think about it, it is rare to find a well-rounded individual with 25 hours in his/her day.
Author: Shirley Ben-Dak
A dual Israeli-American citizen, avid traveler, and former chess player, Shirley Ben-Dak is interested in how entrepreneurship and innovation can contribute to sustainable development. She holds an M.S. degree in Sustainability Management from Columbia University and has worked at a couple of startups over the past few years.