Can I be an entrepreneur and still keep my day job?
YES! But not for long.
I launched dE ROSAIRO, a contemporary womenswear clothing brand, in February 2014. Our brand is built around the concept of re-imagining the hoodie for the modern woman in a way that she can incorporate it in her contemporary wardrobe.
When I first began to research the ‘hoodie’ and test for market viability, I was employed in a full-time and demanding job that was anything but a 9-5.
My friends kept asking me: “When will you leave your day job and follow your passion?” For 10 months I continued to answer: “I’ll know when the time is right”.
I spent the first six months studying the fashion industry extensively: going to night classes; walking tradeshows around the country; and reading a new, relevant book every two weeks. My days quickly turned into 18-hour work days between my full time job, and my new venture. The weekends became my favorite days of the week: two full days once a week that I could dedicate to my entrepreneurial efforts. I hired interns after 3 months, and at the 6-month mark I hired contractors to work on dE ROSAIRO during the day, all while I continued to work full time.
Sustaining my day job provided me with an increased runway for funding my business. This allowed me the flexibility in my budget to launch a business without asking for a loan, or borrowing from friends and family.
My transition into ‘full time entrepreneur’ was slow coming and this helped me prepare for the tight deadlines of the Fashion industry. When you work in a seasonal market, things don’t happen by chance. You have rigid deadlines to hit which means planning for seasonal collections and supply chain management, and if you miss the window, you have to wait for the next one. This pre-planning, and tight schedule helped me know exactly when to leave my Fortune 500 career behind. I did so only after acquiring a full set of samples for my first collection, a sales showroom locked in, a website under development, and a launch date (+marketing materials) for dE ROSAIRO.
My concept was not just a concept anymore, it had slowly morphed into a business, and it required my full dedication and focus.
While it’s possible to still keep a day job as an entrepreneur, there does come a time when you can no longer do two things well. It’s premature to quit your job when you’re still in ‘idea phase’, so until you’ve tested market viability and the competitor landscape, keep that money flowing in and work on your idea at night and on the weekends.
When you’ve sewn your first seeds and your concept has matured into a business that is operational, take the leap! Dedicate yourself completely to your new entrepreneurial journey and grow by celebrating the small wins and lessons you learn along the way – both are part of the ride.
Entrepreneurial musings suggest that if you’re serious about your business, you need to remove all obstacles and give yourself completely to the journey. The truth is, we can all do a pretty decent job multi-tasking, but when we excel, we excel because we focus.