Can I Run A Successful Part Time Startup?
You have a decent paying day job but you dream of the success of running a startup. You’re worried that if you quit your job and run a startup full time, you might fail and your wallet will be in deep trouble. Then you start thinking about running a part time startup. Can this be done? Or is it even a good choice? Starting a part time startup is one of the best ways to get things started, but we shouldn’t ever just do things on our free time. We need to keep everything organize so we can convert to being a full time startup later.
Part Time Startup
Running a startup requires more than full time. You will be working graveyard, weekends, holidays, 14 hour days and more. In other words, if you want to run a successful startup that will attract investors and employees then it must be full time. Starting a startup itself already involves a lot of uncertainty, so you might be worried about quitting your current job to dedicate full time to a startup.
In the beginning when you are putting your team together, going part time is perfectly fine. The phrase that I’m talking about is the very early pre-MVP stage. This is the stage where you should be building your product, trying different things out, reaching out to your network for feedback, and developing a good solid trust and relationship with your co-founder. This is the perfect time to create a temporary part time startup, but once you have a product developed and investors are starting to notice your product, then it is time to quit and go full time.
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Building a temporary part time startup requires a lot of organization and planning. I don’t mean plan for the product itself, but plan for the time you and your co founder will be gathering together to work on the project. For example, Saturday and Sunday might be you and your co founder’s day off. This is the perfect day to get together and code, design, plan, for 10-12 or even more hours straight. Lock yourselves in a room or something and get things done.
If you can’t handle being more than 12 hours with your co founder for more than a weekend, then you probably can’t bootstrap or go full time with the same co-founder. This is a great experience to test while you still have a job. A lot of people can tell themselves that they don’t mind the hard work. We hear that everyday, but when it comes down to it, how many people can really handle the pain and work?
Assigning roles for a part time startup is important. Most mentors that I’ve spoke with before recommends that all startup have at least 2 co founders, if it is a must then 3. Assuming you will have 2 co founders including yourself, one of you guys should be business savvy as well or at least business knowledgeable. If you are the one that is business savvy and can code, then hopefully your partner is a coder and an elegant designer.
Setting guidelines and milestones are extremely important when your working on a part time startup. The reason why it is so important is because you want to get a certain amount done per day. You’re going part time, so you can’t really say “let’s continue tomorrow.” It is a part time startup, but it should be thought of as a full time day off work or full time weekend work.
Running a part time startup is a great way to get things tested, but you should be serious about it as well. This is what Paul Graham has to say about it:
“The number one thing not to do is other things. If you find yourself saying a sentence that ends with “but we’re going to keep working on the startup,” you are in big trouble. Bob’s going to grad school, but we’re going to keep working on the startup. We’re moving back to Minnesota, but we’re going to keep working on the startup. We’re taking on some consulting projects, but we’re going to keep working on the startup. You may as well just translate these to “we’re giving up on the startup, but we’re not willing to admit that to ourselves,” because that’s what it means most of the time. A startup is so hard that working on it can’t be preceded by “but.””
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