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Can you be an entrepreneur while working full-time?

by Oct 20, 2021Entrepreneurship, My Projects

How my full time job and my own business are connected

Today, I am hired full time as an ERP Project Manager and Sales. And at the same time, I am operating my coaching business by animating this blog, hoping to provide ongoing support to entrepreneurs during their entire journey.

And this question is always in my mind: Can you be an entrepreneur while working full-time? Is working full time making you less of an entrepreneur? Can you work full-time and run a business?

This full time job opportunity matches totally with my entrepreneurial mission. Both this blog and some other personal life-goals.

I have realized that the reasons why I got hired was because I had this blog and this coaching business. The reason why I accepted this mission was because I could be really useful as an entrepreneur. And this blog could actually be documented and feed by my practical experiences from my day-to-day at my work.

It’s even going beyond that simple connection…

Great employees have an entrepreneurial mindset.

The greatest employees I hired in the past, were all these rare people that are willing to go beyond their todo list because they understand why they are asked to do certain things. They are more clear-sighted and effective than others because they are able to see the bigger picture. Isn’t what an entrepreneur do for his or her business?

When I am working, I am doing my best to bring my entrepreneur’s mindset with me at any moment. And it’s much needed for the job to be accomplished.

Let me give you a little taste of my mission:

The company I currently work with provides ERP Solutions to medium sized companies (approx up to 250 Employees) using Odoo.

An ERP means Enterprise Resource Planning. The most digest definition I have found is from Investopedia:

“You can think of an Enterprise Resource Planning system as the glue that binds together the different computer systems for a large organization. Without an ERP application, each department would have its system optimized for its specific tasks. With ERP software, each department still has its system, but all of the systems can be accessed through one application with one interface.”

So, we use Odoo to pursue our mission to provide this “all-in-one solution” to companies.

As you can see in the definition of “what is an ERP”, it’s a lot about making all the department using the same language to connect together and a lot about optimizing your processes and your task management.

This is a good news because I advertize myself as a coach who can help entrepreneurs to optimlize, delegate and automate their tasks, projects and organisations to save time, money and scale faster.

For someone who has always been convinced that any business that is serious enough about scaling up should integrate technology in their systems and processes; by working for this company, I become part of this solution.

But I used to believe that to be an entrepreneur, you must be your own boss and have your own business, etc.

Can you be an entrepreneur while working full-time Nicolas Thanh

“Real entrepreneurs cannot work full time” (My younger version of me)

I used to believe that if you work for someone else, you’re not an entrepreneur. As long as you sell your time for a fixed salary you are not an entrepreneur.

Even when I accepted to work for this company while writing as an entrepreneur and for entrepreneurs, I started feeling the impostor syndrome coming up because technically, I wasn’t an entrepreneur anymore.. as I was working full time?

Impostor syndrome (also known as impostor phenomenon, impostorism, fraud syndrome or the impostor experience) is a psychological pattern in which an individual doubts their skills, talents, or accomplishments and has a persistent internalized fear of being exposed as a “fraud”).” _ Wikipedia

So my question since I started this job has been: Being working full time now, am I really legit to advise entrepreneurs?

The truth is when I was younger I would clearly separate the two: employee or entrepreneur? It became a career choice. Maybe because I was born and raised in France where we like to compare and separate things; manual work versus intellectual work, boss versus leaders, etc.

Being an entrepreneur is also a lifestyle that gives you freedom; you can choose your own working hours, you can shape an idea the way you like, you can choose the people you want to work with. And when you meet people, they are usually impressed. When you meet other entrepreneurs you instantaneously connect and conversations are totally different.

“Be your own boss or nothing!” (My ego is telling me)

When I started my first business, I was fully involved in it: day and night. The usual 35-40 hours people do in a week, I was doing it in two or three days. But I was proud to be my own boss.

To me, being an entrepreneur was being your own boss. I was only looking at the freedom it would give me, to choose my own schedule, to be the only person to decide, etc.

But the hard truth was that revenues when you are just starting are really unstable. My first business was HR consultancy and my second business was a hostel. At least the first year, you have to accept to earn very little and it’s not even sure it will happen. On my first year I made 3000 euros and had to pay tax on this…

But, I was young and I was really not caring if I’d be eating instant noodles for the rest of my life. So I doubled the efforts and eventually made it. But other challenges come.

For example, revenues were seasonal with my hostel. You have to play with the market rules.

Or you end up realizing that your clients become your “boss”, they decide. So you have to make sure that everything you offer is what they actually want. Any mistake can cost a lot.

And that way, on many occasions, I thought about taking a part time job. I almost worked part time or full time. But my ego always was the strongest and I was always refusing to take any side job: “Do not take any job!”.

I was listening to my ego because I believe that the time I would loose by working for someone else, I would not be able to invest it in myself, in my business.

Accepting to work for someone else was, in a way, accepting that my business is not enough.

But then, after my hostel had to shut down in 2020 and while I took some times to read more books, I realized that this “ego” thing was more pulling me back than helping me in any way.

Entrepreneurs have a mission, not a job.

This is how I realized I was being stubborn and looking at the problem from the wrong angle.

I read and recommend you three books:

Side Hustle by Chris Guillebeau:

This book helped me understand that you can practically have a full time job while having a side hustle (aka, a small business outside of working hours). 1h per day, 30 minutes sometimes. 2h during the weekend, etc. And Chris Guillebeau takes you through all his method to actually grow your business while you have very limited amount of time left because you are working full time.

I liked his approach and I felt like I could use some of his advice to actually focus on what is essential in my business, while working full time somewhere else where I could generate stable revenues.

The Code of The Extraordinary Mind by Vishen Lakhiani

In his book, Vishen Lakhiani brings a lot of life changing concepts: one of them is “brules” (aka, bullshit rules). The rules that you set for yourself but that are not tangible. So many will have brules about culture, religion, etc. that would dictate their behavior and they would not question it. In my case, I’d refuse to take a part-time or full-time job because I had a brule: an entrepreneur cannot work for someone else… but as I said earlier; the greatest employees I hired where the ones with an entrepreneur mindset!

Ikigai by Francesc Miralles and Héctor García

Ikigai has helped me understand why I was doing all this and what I wanted out of life. After reading the book and doing some exercises, you will understand that ikigai is something you cultivate and that supports you during your life journey. Find a mission not a job…

Conclusion:

Combine a side-hustle lifestyle without this “brule” and with my ikigai; and you get someone like me today, who is totally happy working for a company with a mission aligned with my ikigai, while animating a blog every morning: creating content, sustaining my household, being happy at work and outside of work.

Yes, I have a full-time job, but looking at the mission I am entitled with, the tasks I do everyday, it’s a lot similar to what I do as an entrepreneur coach. Our clients are entrepreneurs too. And while I write in this blog, I address to them in priority.

Focus on your mission, your ikigai.

Or focus on jobs, tasks and people that will help you achieve your mission.

I believe that you start hating your job when what you do everyday has no more meaning to you anymore.

Then, when what you do at work is aligned with what you want out of life, usually everything becomes much easier, healthier..

So, it doesn’t really matter if it’s a full time job or a freelancing growing business. Once you are entitled with that mission, you will have to give all your energy for it.

And you? Would you take a part time or full time job while growing your business? If yes, what type of job? And if not, why?

Thank you for reading until the end!

Every morning, after my meditation 🧘🏽and my breakfast ☕️, I sit at my desk for one hour and write answers to my own questions, as an entrepreneur ✍️. Then I publish it on this blog, hoping to help other entrepreneurs to find answers to their questions too. And this, no matter your “level”.

To participate, ask me questions on social medias @nicolasthanhg (click on the icons below). I may answer directly or write an article about it.

Now, you can also go back to the blog page and search for articles related to your scope of interest. 🔍

Have a good day,
Nicolas Thành