Balancing a Full-Time Job with a Growing Side Business: Tips from Trinipreneurs

A job–no matter what industry you’re in–can be very intensive. Let’s face it: for a lot of us, most of our day (or night) is spent immersed in the day-to-day operations of the company you work for. 

The thought of throwing a business into the mix on top of everyday responsibilities and commitments might sound daunting. It takes a lot of willpower, patience, dedication to not only get it off the ground but also maintain operations, inventory, sales, and customer service while maintaining that same energy for your day job.

It’s not an easy feat, but it can be done.

We reached out to a few Trinipreneurs (Trini entrepreneurs) who get real about what it takes to balance their businesses while employed full-time. 

What’s a typical day like juggling your full-time job and personal business? 

Jason Marcano: I wake up at 4 AM with the intention of doing some self-development exercise but usually, I’m putting finishing touches on a project. I use my breaks and time in between to engage with clients and potential clients via social media and WhatsApp. I can even meet a client at work if necessary. Other than communicating, I don’t get to do any side hustle work in work, I just don’t get the space or time. When I get back home I usually rest for a while to clear my head then I may have a meeting or will jump straight into work, mostly creating content. I try to get to sleep around 10 or 11 PM. 

Arielle Holdip: No day is the same. My businesses are both online, and my day job consists of doing social media management so I’m able to incorporate a schedule to do content for all three at the same time. WeSouLit is a retail business, so it’s just about repackaging existing products. I’ve streamlined the business in such a way that the client does everything on the website and all I have to do is package and drop to TTPost. With Zaveza, it gets a little tricky as the products are ones that I create and build myself, so it can be very time-consuming. I’ve come up with mechanisms that allow me to cut the production time into minutes versus hours and I’ve created a system where I can hire someone who can now replicate my designs easily.

Keron McLeish: I believe that you gotta go to work for yourself before you make a penny for anybody else. A typical day for me starts at 4 AM. I usually start off with reading a book and I’m getting into the habit of doing a quick workout in before I start working on my business. I write blogs for my platforms, update prices in my Droid Island Shop, process any orders and respond to messages. 

I’ve set my day job schedule for 9.30 AM to give me the most amount of time to work on my side businesses before I give my time to a job. While I’m at work, my clients’ products get delivered to me and I can package out at the office, organise with my courier to collect and have them deliver to customers. I get home around 7 PM and usually take an hour to do some work on my courses, have dinner and relax until bed at 10 PM. 

How do you strike a balance between the daily logistics of your startup while employed full time?

JM: I think this is the toughest part and I can’t say I have managed it well, but I have gotten better than before. Everything comes down to what you spend your time doing. Even though you have to work a specific set of hours, that just means that the time home is even more vital, so maximising your time at home is important. It’s also important to take care of yourself. Especially with creative jobs, you want to be well-rested to operate efficiently. Slow and steady progress works for me or else might get burnt out.

AH: You are the key to the business in the early stages: if you are sick, your business is sick. Self-maintenance is key: If you are running on fumes, your business would run on fumes too. Boundaries and management come second. Reading is my secret weapon and I study and try to emulate the lives of CEOs, and creative multi-millionaires. I make time to meditate and do my affirmations every morning.

KM: I think you gotta be very intentional about the job you accept and the type of business you are trying to run. When I got my job offer, it was within my field, wasn’t too far from home and the daily duties weren’t too intense, so I knew that it was something that I could balance. Plus, outside of my workshops, I have focused on building an online business and that does not require me to physically be anywhere on a normal day. My businesses work regardless of where I am, so that has given me a lot of freedom and additional revenue to invest in my businesses. 

What measures do you have in place to avoid burn out?

JM: Pacing myself and prioritizing rest.

AH: Therapy was mandatory for me at a point in time and I kept it up weekly because of the impact it had on my thoughts and subsequently the state of my life. With that foundation, I found meditation and journalling after starting my business and realising that many billionaires take care of their mental health daily. Boundaries are IMPORTANT. For my business to be at its optimum levels, my mind has to be at optimum levels. 

KM: I think the biggest thing with burn out and why I have never experienced it is because I have been intentional about the work I do. I love what I do so I’m never mentally drained. Sometimes I have days where I don’t feel like doing anything and I try not to force myself to do things so I’ll just relax. If you love what you do, it’s so much harder to get burnt out because every waking moment, you are just thinking about putting in more work. But…listen to your body and take your breaks as well.

Many people think that once a side business starts to make a profit, it’s time to quit a full-time job. Alternatively, there are those who don’t understand why some entrepreneurs are still employed full time. Thoughts? 

JM: I think the situation is totally based on the individual. I’ve heard some people say your side hustle should be making twice your day job salary and you should have six months salary saved before you leave your day job as well. But if you don’t have any major expenses, you may not need to wait for that. 

On the other hand, if you’re content working full-time and your side hustle simultaneously, why should you stop? I think each person needs to look at the bigger picture and see what’s right for them and not judge people who choose another route. Identify what you want your day job to do for you and if you want to leave your day job, make sure you have reached the goals and reap the benefits that the day job would have afforded you before you leave. 

AH: As someone who has been on both ends of the spectrum…let me tell yooouuuuuuu!!! A business profit ain’t got sh*t to do with your livelihood. Do not leave a stable, guaranteed income until you have enough to 1. cover all your monthly personal expenses for at least six months, 2. reinvest into your business for business expenses and 3. earn net profits. 

People love to see a little extra change coming in and don’t realise how much weight that day job brings in financially. Businesses have to grow to thrive; I completely underestimated the income vs. outcome rate of a new business along with the weight of my personal expenses. If you have a day job that sustains your life AND your business, don’t leave it unless you are guaranteed your business can do the same. 

KM: Everybody’s situation is different. If you are a digital entrepreneur and you’re making money online, then technically you could work your day job and pull in those two different streams of income. If you love your day job and you make money online, then you are in a very good spot. 

I think the best time to even consider quitting your day job is when your business makes at least 75% of your salary. If it’s making that, chances are you are ready to go full time in your business because now you can put more time into it and begin scaling that business to earn more than what you were given as a salary. For me, my day job is the main investor in my business. I am able to try a lot of things that I may have thought twice about because I didn’t want to invest too much into a bad idea. I am also able to invest more in some of the tech I needed in order to start adding new aspects to my business.

What advice you’d give budding entrepreneurs on how to balance their day job and new business?

JM: Taking care of yourself is a major key. Managing your time and energy and avoiding distractions will help a lot. Don’t compare yourself to other people. I think we always feel like the competition is so far ahead of us, but the people you are competing against would have started under different circumstances. Be patient and keep working hard.

AH: Do it YOUR WAY. There is no hard and fast rule as to how to do it. Just make sure you are in control. I always tell people that ask, millionaires are millionaires because of multiple streams of income, not because they have a million-dollar business. So why would you want to cut off a guaranteed source of income? If your business is one of passion and not necessarily for financial reasons, then make sure your passionate business can cover your living expenses.

KM: Take a job that pays you the most money but doesn’t drain you, so that you can come home or wake up early and put work into your business. If you can get a job within your field that can give you experience or connections, do that. Always remember, that when you walk into work your name isn’t on the building and because the world is changing at such a fast rate, what is in need today, could become obsolete tomorrow. There is NO SUCH THING as job security anymore, so don’t get comfortable in a day job.

It’s better to be in control of your own destiny with your own business. Use your day job as your investment to get your own thing off the ground and please do whatever it is you are passionate about. Love what you do!

Responses have been edited for brevity.

Ricqcolia The Magazine

A Trinidad & Tobago woman’s guide to beauty, lifestyle and wellness

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