5 Tips for Launching Your Own Start-up (While Keeping Your Day Job)

with Appster Co-Founder & Co-CEO Mark McDonald


Catch Mark speaking at Kick.Start.Smart. Brisbane & Melbourne

While launching a start-up part-time is not always recommended, some of us just have no choice. When you have a full-time job, bills to pay and possibly a family or a relationship to focus on, diving in full-time can be a huge risk. Here’s what you should do if you want to start a start-up, keep your day job and avoid screwing up.



Let’s take a realistic look at having a full-time job. While your work routine might be relatively consistent, your spare time probably isn’t (especially if you have to put in another few hours of work). Some weekdays are more challenging than others; you might have a corporate party, a dinner with a client or a business trip, not to mention family responsibilities… and then you have to factor in the last minute ‘must do’ that always seems to pop up.

Unfortunately, that lost momentum makes everything much harder. And with lost momentum comes a loss of motivation. It’s like riding a bicycle: it’s much easier to maintain the pace then keep losing it and start again. So, if you’re going to develop a start-up while working full-time, commit to a minimum time you’re going to put in every single day. Even if it’s 30 minutes a day, make sure you tick the box and maintain the momentum. It’s also much easier to start knowing you have 30 minutes to do than having 6 hours piled up. And sometimes, all it takes is to start to get into the flow and smash-out a great working session.



You might be familiar with the Pareto Principle, also known as the 80/20 rule. The basic idea is that around 20% of your actions produce 80% of your results. Likewise, 80% of your actions produce minimal results. In other words, you want to double down on your strengths and cut out, automate or outsource the rest. What that means in practice is that if you’re a great product person and/or sales person, you want to focus on product management and sell 90% of your time.

For repetitive tasks, you want to hire somebody else. At the end of the day, the time to do something repetitive is much cheaper than your time as start-up CEO. The same goes with automation: take full advantage of technology and SaaS tools available to automate your tasks. The great news is that many of them are free to use on a small scale.



Every day, there’s a limited amount of brain power, energy, focus and willpower that’s available to us. When you get home, you’ve already used most of it. If you’re going to dinner, digestion will take up a big part of your physical energy and another cup of coffee probably won’t work if you had a few already. In other words, there’s no way you’re going to give your best after work hours. And even if you think you can, you probably can’t. The best way to overcome this is to work in the mornings when you’re fresh and full of energy. Yes, it sucks to wake up early, but after a couple of weeks, you’ll get used to it. This way you ensure you can put in one or two great hours every day, even if you come home exhausted.



The best way to stay on track and build a momentum is to team up with a co-founder. A great co-founder is someone who will pull you up when you’re down. Obviously, this dynamic should work both ways. But to make this dynamic work, you need to find a co-founder with a complementary skill set. For example, if you’re a great business person, find someone who is a great product person. If you both have the same skill set, let’s say marketing, you’ll end up going much slower. That’s because you’ll both be working on the same thing, and also, you’re more likely to end up in disputes about how your job should be done. Most great companies are started by a co-founding team. Data on billion dollar start-ups show that the vast majority were founded by a team of two entrepreneurs with a complementary skill set.



Things won’t be going well all the time. It will be hard, and the initial progress might be incredibly slow. Whether you like it or not, part of your ego will be attached to how well you’re doing. Don’t fall into a comfort zone and start fooling yourself that it’s “just a side project” or a “hobby” when things get hard.

If you’re serious about beginning a start-up, burn some bridges. Set a deadline for leaving your job. Tell your friends and family and commit to it. Also, once you’ve validated your idea, it’s time to go all in.


This article was originally published on Appsterhq.com.

We would love to hear your thoughts:

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *