Starting a Business While Working for Someone Else

One of the challenges that some people face when starting a business is being able to take a cut in pay – sometimes down to zero – in order to get the business off the ground. One option you might have that will allow you to launch the business while keeping a regular income is to start while working for someone else.

This approach has both advantages and disadvantages.


  • Financial security – the biggest advantage is financial security as you will keep your regular and reliable salary
  • Testing without risk – starting a business while working for someone else also lets you test the market and/or business idea without risking everything
  • Fall back – it gives you something to fall back on if it doesn’t work out
  • Personal development – you can also continue improving your professional knowledge as well as getting more experience and expanding your network


  • Time – finding enough time in the week is undoubtedly the biggest issue with this strategy for starting a business
  • Motivation – you might lack the burning drive required to successfully launch a business if you have a steady income to depend on
  • Performance and productivity – the quality of work you deliver for your existing employer could drop causing difficulties that could result in you losing your job
  • Restricted – you will only be able to work at certain times so could miss business opportunities

Moving Forward

If (after considering the advantages and disadvantages) you still think this is the option for you, here are some tips for making your new business and the arrangement with your existing employer a success

Before Starting

  • Check your contract – your contract might prevent you from starting a business.
  • Talk to your manager or boss – always discuss your overall plans with your manager. This is particularly important if your business will be in competition with your current employer.
  • Use your support network – reach out to friends, family members, and people you currently work with for ideas, advice, and practical help
  • Prepare a business plan – just because you are likely to be working on the business as a second job doesn’t mean you can skip the business plan.
  • Think about how you will organise your time – consider carefully how you will schedule your workload each day, week, and month. Is there enough time to fit everything in?

After You Start

  • Plan your time well – daily and weekly planners, schedules, and regular routines all help
  • Don’t do any business tasks on your employer’s time – this can be challenging because of technology. After all, your phone probably pings every time a business email arrives. To maintain good relations with your existing employer, however, it is crucially important to keep both jobs completely separate.
  • Work hard at the relationship with your employer – following on from the last point, don’t burn bridges with your employer. They could become a customer, mentor, or even an investor in your business in the future.
  • Work efficiently by using technology – using technology to speed up and automate tasks will help you get more done in less time.
  • Keep good records for tax purposes – you will probably need to complete a self-assessment tax return and might even have to register for vat. Keeping good records is the first step to efficient accounting.
  • Be decisive – when the time comes that your business needs more, be decisive. Either quit the day job and go full-time or hire someone else to help you in the business.
  • Don’t burn yourself out – finally, make sure you spend time with your family and friends, and don’t neglect doing things you enjoy.

For more help with starting a business, or with a business that is already up and running, please contact a member of the Gilroy Gannon team today.

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