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  • Writer's pictureKarleen L.

Let Your Current Job Pay for & Build Your Business

When you are a minority, a person of color, a woman, an alien, or not a rich person, taking time off work to start a business or saving enough money to invest in your business may not be an option. I tried, and trust me, it can be challenging. After starting and failing at a few companies, I decided that once I launched my next and final business, it had to be while I worked. Once I accepted that my job could be an investment in my next company, my perspective changed, and my business grew. Here are some of the lessons I picked up:

1st and foremost – Use your lunch time for lunch and not work. Most Americans work during their lunch, which is typically not paid. So use that time to work for yourself. Avoid doing personal work on your employers' computers or offices because working on your project using company resources may mean your firm gets to keep your ideas. Instead, go to the cafeteria or a coffee shop to work. A half-hour a day to work on your business may be small, but it will be significant if you are consistent. That time can build a website, send newsletters, accomplish online training, or write a business plan.

2nd – Depending on your organization, your benefits may include tuition reimbursement for classes. Each company is different. Some will tie courses to your core job functions; others may not. Investigate and see what incentives they provide. Using your job to get the training you need for your business is a bonus. Some companies may impose an employment commitment if they pay for a program, so do your homework.

3rd – Use your vacation time purposefully to build your business. Many Americans, especially minorities, don't use all their vacation time, which means they give companies free labor when they can use it for their new business.

4th - Your business and the company you work for will have similar core functions. Every company needs marketing, social media, and accounting. There may be people in your department that can offer you insight that could be useful for your business. Depending on the expectation, offering lunch may be sufficient for a quick lesson or advice from a colleague or co-worker. However, if you expect consistent advice, work out a contract and payment agreement that is fair to both of you. You do not have to divulge the type of business you are working on, but you should be transparent about wanting the help to work on your own project. Also, make sure that the information you are asking to get help with will not violate your employer's confidentiality or proprietary rules.

5th – Finally, save your money. Times are hard for real! But I guarantee you can cut back on something. Maybe that coffee in the morning, that gym membership you never use, or even skipping takeout or happy hour. Those small sacrifices can provide enough money to subscribe to software to run your business while you work or hire a contractor for 2 or 3 hours a week which would be helpful.

You can build a business while you work. You don't have to sacrifice that dream for "the man." Instead, be the man — or woman — who prioritizes you and your business.

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