Is your business idea one that you could start “on the side” while you’re still working for an employer? Many successful businesses have started that way. You can build momentum while you still receive a paycheck, a happy combination if you can make it work.
Romanus Wolter started his business by working Thursday nights and weekends while still employed by a large corporation. He knew he wanted to go out on his own, but he also understood how long it would take to build his coaching business.
I am pretty convinced that this is a practical approach to starting a business, but Anita Campbell points out the downside in The Perils of the Side Business. “Some employers do not care about side businesses, as long as you get your regular work done.” But, “Sometimes it’s an outright prohibition of any side business under the theory that they want your full attention as an employee (even if you claim to work on it during your non-work hours).”
Look at your agreement with your employer and see what problems you might encounter, like this example from Campbell:
Another pitfall is an agreement named something like “assignment of intellectual property.” Companies that generate considerable intellectual property (such as technology companies) may require an employee to sign an agreement stating that any invention or intellectual property created while you are employed is owned by the employer. These agreements can be so broadly worded that even if your side business was run 100% on your own time, they may still purport to grant ownership to your employer.