Want to start your own business but find yourself stuck in a day job? Here’s how to use that 9-to-5 to your advantage.

Picture it: you had an idea for a business. You researched, you scrimped and you saved for your prototype. Your significant other gave it a wink and your grandmother cannot wait to see you on the Forbes list!

You get to wake up each day and make your own rules. Your time is your own. Gone are those endless meetings, your annoying supervisor and the unrealistic deadlines. You can finally burn that useless employee manual.

Oh, but wait. What’s that piercing sound? Your alarm clock?

Off to your day job you go…

There’s plenty of great advice on day jobs and dream jobs. And  the truth is, you can use your day job to make progress on your dream business. Here are four ways to do that:

1. Change your perspective

Your day job is the gift that keeps on giving; it is an investment. With your steady paycheck, you’re able to finance your dream. Set aside a specific amount of your paycheck for your business venture, and remind yourself not to resent your 9-to-5—it’s helping you move toward that big goal.

2. Take your financial temperature

Knowing how to manage your money is the first step to being a successful entrepreneur. The moment you decide to make the leap to being your own boss, you need to take a candid assessment of your financial picture: your credit score, your savings, your debt. If your personal finances are in shambles, you should address those issues while you still have a steady paycheck coming in before throwing yourself into your business full-time.

3. Learn everything you can from everyone you can

One day you’ll be glad you did. That self-righteous coworker who knows Excel as if he created the program? He’s the one you want to ask how to create master spreadsheets. The assistant with the ever-annoying attention to detail? Follow her example to learn how you can stay on top of your game.

This is the time to seek out mentors and others who can teach you specific skills so you don’t have to spend thousands on post-college courses. Your workplace likely has built-in teachers, so suck as much knowledge out of them as you can.

4. Stop wasting time

Some days, you’ll be impatient and anxious to start your business. Don’t these folks know you have other things to do?

That mindset—though natural—is a waste of time. It often can end up a waste of money, too; you’ll eat through your budget while rushing your business off the ground.

Instead, focus on what you can accomplish during commutes, lunch, evenings and weekends. Then create realistic a timetable for your exit strategy and new focus: your business.

Tanea Smith is a motivational speaker and expert on launching while working. She’s also the founder of inspiring stationery collection She’s Got Papers.


  1. Cecilia Harry

    Hi Tanea, thanks for this article. You are so right that your current job may be full of learning opportunities to help you get to your next opportunity, whether that is an entrepreneurial opportunity or one with different responsibilities (or at a different company).

    • Tanea Smith

      Hi Cecilia,
      Thanks for your comment. Many times we’re just obsessed with leaving where we are. When the truth is that every place you stop on the way to your ideal gig is a classroom. Learning is key! Thanks for reading.

  2. Abie Smith

    I was very encouraged to find this site.


  3. yepi6

    I do not know if I can achieve my dream, I just did a lot of work and hopefully it will be successful. thank your post.

  4. kizi2

    thank you post, it will help me be more motivated at work

  5. Career Coach, alisonelissa.com

    I built my business while working a day job, and I can definitely sympathize with the struggles doing so entails. Another thing to remember is that going this route means that when you do get to full-time work on your business it tastes that much sweeter!

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  7. Jacob McMillen

    Really good stuff! An additional thought would be to acquire a day job that trains you in one or two skills relating to your future endeavor. For example, if you want to start an online clothing business, you could get a day job at a clothing retail shop targeting the same market as your future store. The more proverbial birds you can kill with your limited number of stones, the better!

    • Tanea Smith

      Yes Jacob, agreed. THe more experience you can get in pursuing your passion before you cut the purse strings at your day job, the better. Thanks for reading.

  8. Andrew Tarvin

    I’d add that if you’re really struggling to stay motivated in your day job while setting up your dream job, set specific criteria of when you can leave. E.g. say you’ll leave after you have X dollars saved up or you have Y clients. Knowing that the end is in sight and not feeling like “I might be doing this day job for forever” can help keep you motivated.

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    […] point was made very well in a Brazen Life blog post on http://www.brazencareerist.com. In this article, “4 Ways to Use Your Day Job to Move Toward Your  Dream Job”, soon-to-be entrepreneurs get a handful of wise “must dos” before they fly from their […]

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