For the first years of BetterPhoto's life, I worked my full-time day job (as a Web developer at Alaska Airlines) and built my own business during my non-working hours, while continuing to develop my craft.
Keeping the dream alive was easy; I was always fueled on by the excitement and creativity of it all.
The end result: I've been fortunate enough to have built up a successful, creative business and... bottom line, BetterPhoto is still thriving after 14 years.
If you are trying to balance your day job with your creative "side" business, here are a few thoughts that may help you:
- Don't quit your day job. I did that (at another time with my photography business) and I was surprised at how much my creativity froze, once I was consumed by worry about putting bread on the table. You need to feel secure in order to be as creative as you can.
- Let lower-priority tasks go... Put them on the "Can Wait" list or get someone else to do it. My point: do only what you and only you can do.
- Price your products so you pay yourself what you're worth. Don't give your goods away, just because it takes courage and confidence to ask people to pay you fairly for you products and services.
- Use any discontent you may feel with the day job to fuel your entrepreneurial endeavors.
- Know that you're going to make lots of mistakes. Everything is a test, and business building is all about course correction. Many business ideas fail (often because we entrepreneurs fall in love with our ideas and inventions before fully testing out market need) so be prepared to be embarrassed, and have set backs from time to time... Just keep going.
- Mainly because of that last note (that it will inevitably be messy), get started today!
If you're afraid and want to make sure all your ducks are in a row before you quit your day job, that's great. But don't let this need for certainty and perfection stop you from getting started.
You have to get started today AND keep your day job. Yes, it's hard... but do-able.
It's very good to be risk-averse. Careful is good, especially when it comes to leaving the day job. But, as the saying goes, great dishes are made in messy kitchens. It will be messy and it will take a lot of energy. But when you balance "doing what you love" (your soul passion) with "serving the market with what it's starving for", you will find yourself continually fueled with the energy you need to do both... until it's time to fully focus on your business.
And I know your next question... "when will I know?" You'll know. It will be very clear to you when the time is right.