Part time entrepreneur?

As someone working on a startup venture in addition to my freelance consulting, I was interested recently to see a 37signals presentation that mentioned the virtues of being a part-time entrepreneur (see the video here).

"Surely not!" some of you may be thinking. "If you could get funding and go at it full time, why wouldn’t you?" 

Well, it turns out that working part-time on a venture has some important advantages:

  • Allows your day job to help fund the startup and therefore to (i) retain greater control (ii) avoid or defer the distraction of raising capital in the early stages
  • Encourages a scalable business model – i.e. revenue flows as the business grows, and everything still works you’re not there (which may be often)
  • Keeps you remarkably focused on the important tasks. You simply don’t have time to waste on ‘nice to have’ stuff.
  • Makes you far more likely to talk with customers before you invest your scarce resources on ‘building something’
  • Lowers your capital requirements because you’re not burning wads of cash as you evolve and refine the company direction and product/service offering (which often happens in the early stages)
  • Allows you to match your time input to the business needs. Sometimes there is a natural pace to growth, and being part-time stops you wasting time and energy for low marginal returns.
  • Gives you a broader, more strategic perspective because you’re not all-consumed by the startup.
  • Lowers the risk of being involved in a startup – success is arguably more likely for the above reasons, and failure isn’t as devastating.

But of course there is a downside too – very little spare time, frustrations about limited resources, scheduling conflicts, and various other issues trying to balance your day job with your startup venture. 

Your views? 

What has been your experience as a full-time or part-time entrepreneur? Are there other pros or cons that should be added to the above lists? What would you recommend to others?

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