When Katy Tuncer decided to launch Ready, Steady, Mums, a fitness business aimed at new mothers in the UK, she didn’t leave her day job at a consulting firm. Similarly, Gabe Haim and Ryan Schlotter, who launched their own micro-brewery outside of New York City, didn’t leave their jobs working at a car dealership. Like Katy,they liked their day jobs and they appreciated the financial rewards and the stability that came with full-time employment. They also didn’t want to put their families’ lifestyles at risk for a chance at building something of their own.
Katy, Gabe, and Ryan are all part of a growing number of part-time entrepreneurs. Rather than shouldering the considerable risks of leaving their jobs to launch a new venture, they enjoy the best of both worlds. They can try new ideas and perhaps even fail, but they do so without jeopardising all of the rewards that have come with years of success and hard work in their careers. They’ve all learned that by spending at least 10% of their time, and if possible their money, working on new ventures, either as an investor, an advisor, or a founder, they can build lasting value for themselves. Most importantly, they can do so on their own terms. They are 10% entrepreneurs.
The democratisation of entrepreneurship
Think about the sheer logistics of running a business 20 years ago, back in the mid-1990s. It’s easy to forget how much infrastructure – non-portable, physical infrastructure – you needed. Your company would provide you with a desktop computer, a fixed line telephone, voicemail, and access to a fax machine and a printer. Two decades later, technology is deeply woven into the fabric of our personal and professional lives. It is ubiquitous, it is cheap, and it is only getting cheaper.
The falling price of technology, coupled with widespread connectivity, has clear implications for anyone who has dreamed of doing something entrepreneurial. It’s never been cheaper and easier to start and manage a business, technology focused or otherwise. You need little more than a laptop, an internet connection, and a smartphone to run the day-to-day operations of a small business. Since all of this technology is mobile or easily accessible, you can work on your business from anywhere at any time. Put simply, we live in a highly connected and mobile world. As long as you’ve got an internet connection, a smartphone and perhaps a laptop, you’re in business.
Even though this technological revolution means that you can be far more productive than ever before, you still need to find time to work on side projects and build your 10%.
Follow these four principals in order to find the time, energy, and focus to allocate just a portion of your time to entrepreneurial ventures.
- Think in terms of mindshare rather than hours
Finding sufficient time to work on a new venture is not a question of hours, per se, but rather one of mindset. If you think in terms of hours, you’re implicitly framing your 10% as something that is separate from everything else you’ve got going on. In reality, it’s quite the opposite. Try to think of your 10% as an integrated part of your overall career and, by extension, your life. That means looking for opportunities when talking to friends, seeking advice from the person sitting next to you at a dinner party, and seeking out people you know and trust for help.
- Make time count for more
The smarter you use your time, the better, so thinking about how to get more out of every moment is a 10% entrepreneur’s best friend. The secret is to combine passive activities with activities that require deeper thinking. If you’ve got work to do, you can make calls during your commute or during your lunch hour or coffee break. Why waste valuable time listening to the radio, playing games on your phone, or talking about the same old office politics when you can spend it doing something for yourself? You can also organise your thoughts while you’re on your morning run or in the shower, and network for new opportunities with the other parents at your child’s school play. All those activities are part of your 10%, but you can work them into the rest of your life.It’s worth remembering that many of us spend a good deal of our work hours waiting around for things to happen or sitting in endless meetings. That means that you can likely get far more out of the hours that you’re at the office.
- Choose projects that play to your strengths
Look for opportunities that draw on the talents you have already developed in your life and your career. The more closely a business opportunity matches your areas of expertise, the more likely you are to get up to speed quickly, make the right connections, and increase your chances of success. Simply put, if you’re playing to your strengths, you are far more efficient.
- Cut out the noise and focus
Think back, if you can, to the days before Facebook, Twitter, texting, and even email. It’s hard to remember what we did with all that free time! Cutting down on those distractions and reallocating that mindshare to your 10% can be a transformative commitment. Eliminating distractions will help you to focus, get organised, and find time to work. You don’t have to lock yourself up in a room, but you do need to dedicate quality time to your efforts. That means cutting down on television, turning off your phone, disabling notifications on your computer, and if possible, leaving the office during lunch to find a quiet place to work.
If you keep these principals in mind, you’ll soon find yourself making time to build new things, meet new people, and embark on the adventure that is entrepreneurship. Best of all, as a 10% entrepreneur, you’ll do all of these things profitably.