Can you be in full time employment and run a business at the same time?

I often get asked how I run a business and hold down a full time job as a doctor. Which had me pondering the question — Are you able to run a business while holding down a full time job?

A quick search on the internet seemed to be of the idea that it is possible. It is a very broad topic, and depending on the nature of work you are doing and your business goals, it might be feasible. My gut response however, is a resounding no — you can’t work fulltime while running a business. Ran the question past a couple of my entrepreneur friends and they too were of similar opinion.

Running a business requires time and mental commitment. Time is definitely a limited resource and regardless of what one might think, so is mental capacity. Discipline, focus and mindfulness are able to help to a certain extent, but after a certain amount of output, our ability to think well is certainly compromised. By trying to juggle both, we end up not doing very well in either.

During the initial stages of running a business, much time will be spent networking & relationship building. Opportunities often arise at unpredictable times, and having to turn them down because of job responsibilities is going to be a deterrent to business growth. Even if you have a great team, as owner, you would need to be involved with every aspect of the business, which allows you to identify areas of opportunities and/or inefficiencies. If you were looking for investments or partnerships, potential investors/partners would be hesitant to work with a company who does not have a full-time founder.

Anyone who has ever started something new also knows that it takes time for progress. There are cycles of excitement, enthusiasm alternating with frustration and confusion. When you have a job, it makes it so much easier for you to give up when you’re facing challenges and slow progress in the business.

Starting a business, on the other hand, is most definitely doable while holding down a full time job. Planning, conceptualizing and getting a minimally viable product (MVP) can be done when not working. Planning is mostly less time sensitive than execution, and so the constrains of a full time job are not as limiting.

The business landscape is ever changing and challenging. As with life, staying at the same spot inevitably results in us falling behind as the world moves forward. Whatever your business goals are, whether they are of global domination or self-sustenance, running a business requires constant effort and innovation to stay relevant.

When I first started the business, I spent the first year running it full time with my business partner. The decision to return to full time work was because of synergism between healthcare, wellness and fitness. Being involved in market facing activities is an essential aspect part of business strategy and working as a doctor allowed me to keep abreast of the changes in the healthcare industry. However that meant that I was no longer as involved in the operational aspect of the business. Having a business partner allowed us to be flexible in the roles we played in the business. Weekly strategic meetings are where we share our insights and review our plans and execution meetings are done by my partner and the rest of the team.

I suppose that is also the reason why many freelancers often find it difficult to scale. Freelancing while trying to grow your customer base is essentially running a business while working a full time job and trying to perfect your craft.

The point of sharing this isn’t to deter anyone from starting their own business, but rather paint a realistic picture of what to expect when making the jump to entrepreneurship. After all, to be prepared is half the victory.

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