Chances are at some point in your career you’ve dreamed of owning your own business. But the risks involved in becoming an entrepreneur, you think, are just too great. After all, you can’t gamble your current steady income, your credit, and your family’s comfort on a venture that may or may not succeed.

The truth is it is possible to keep your 9 to 5 and achieve your entrepreneurial dreams, but first you need to ask yourself a few important questions.

  1. Why are you going into business in the first place? Seriously ask yourself why you are adding an additional 15-20 hours of work to what is probably already a busy schedule. The reasons you list (and yes, there should be several) will provide motivation to keep you going when you’re tired and stressed. If possible create a visual reminder of why. This can be a poster board with photos from the brochure of the college you want to send your child to. Or maybe you want to pay off a credit card debt so you paste the statement on the board with “paid in full” written on it. This board should be highly visible so you see it each day.
  2. What will you sell and why?  What product/service will you provide? What data have you gathered that convinces you there is a need for this product/service in your area?  A good way to judge the viability of your business is to ask yourself if you would invest in this business if a friend asked you to. If at all possible ask 50 people at a minimum if they have had a need for this product/service in the last year.
  3. Who is going to sell/service what your company is offering? You already have a full-time job so don’t create another one for yourself. From Day One, be passively involved with your business. This means you oversee the operation but stay out of the day-to-day work. The simpler the business the easier it is to accomplish this. At the start, hire people you like and trust and always seek to hire the best, as they are worth the extra it may cost to hire them.
  4. What are you going to charge and why? Experience your competition’s product/service to determine their strengths and weaknesses but also to get a look at their pricing. Ask them many questions as possible and then, figure out where you may be able to offer additional benefits for a slightly lower price.
  5. How are you going to communicate to your ideal customer why they should choose your business over your competition? If you can’t answer this with at least 2 answers don’t go in business. Advertising won’t be enough. From Day One, create an image with a promise that your customers can count on. Develope and sticking to a mission statement that puts customers first. Highlight your competitive advantages.
  6. When do you make it your full-time job and not just your part-time passive moneymaker? If your situation is such that you have the time and the cash reserves to pay your bills while you put your total focus on starting this business, do so. Putting your focus on it full-time should bring it to scale faster, which should result in you drawing an income sooner. Again, this should only be done if your situation calls for it. I am not a big fan of quitting a full-time job to start a business, especially when you have responsibilities at home to pay for. I never did and I built more than one six-figure income managing my schedule between full-time work and entrepreneurship.

About the Author:

Sean C. Castrina is the author of 8 Unbreakable Rules for Business Start-Up Success (Champion Publishing, 2013, ISBN: 978-0-989-10456-2, $14.87, and the soon-to-be-released 8 Unbreakable Rules for Small Business Dominance. He is also founder of A successful business coach and a true entrepreneur, he has started over 15 successful companies over the last 18 years. His companies have ranged from retail, direct mail marketing, and advertising to real estate development and home services. Sean is a sought-after speaker and can speak with authority on what it takes to start, sustain, and grow a business.