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Jumping the Gap to Starting Your Business: Getting Income Needed from Your Full-Time Job

January 2, 2017 // R. Shawn McBride // No Comments »

For many people that I talk to (particularly those in the speaking industry that are trying to get started), that are trying to launch new businesses, there’s a perennial problem of how do I get from where I’m at to running my own business? If you’re a full-time employee, it’s hard. It’s hard to walk away from that salary and from that income. What are your strategies?

# 1 Make a clean break. Turn off your full-time job and jump full-time into your new business. This is the obvious option, but it’s very challenging because you face a lot of uncertainty. You don’t know what your income level’s going to be. You don’t know whether your business is going to take off and when, so this can cause a lot of income uncertainty. Many people don’t like this and are looking for a different option — a middle option.

# 2 You can work part-time in your new business. Now, this is challenging because you need to rely on that income from the first job and you want to do a great job for that employer (it’s the right thing to do and protects your long-term reputation) but you also need to build your business.  So you’re going to be burning the candle at both ends. This is not a great option either, but it’s certainly something viable.

# 3 Start splitting the difference. We see this a lot with husband and wife teams, but it’s possible with other business partnerships too. If we have two or more people involved in the business, one of them can jump in while the other one works a salaried job. Now, you’re going to have to have some income coordination, and obviously, your standard of living’s probably going to be lowered. For a husband and wife team, this is a very viable option since they probably already have combined finances. Now, they can just focus a little bit on the business with one person while one of them still earns a salary to pay basic expenses (so a lower lifestyle for a while).

Partners that aren’t married can also do this, but they will have to have economic coordination. You have to figure out how contributions are made to the business, how salaries are paid from the business, and how the money’s going to be divided. It’s going to require a lot of closeness among the partners, but it’s certainly a viable option.

# 4 You can use your current employer to launch your new business. Now this is a tricky one and can take a lot of careful planning, but it’s possible. For instance, if you’re a speaker, you can get your current employer to start hiring you as a speaker and start using you as an outside consultant instead of as an employee. That would give you more freedom and flexibility to start building your business – maybe working on your new business during regular business hours, while still meeting the needs of your current employer. This requires pure negotiation skill. Whether you can pull this off is going to depend on your positioning, your ability to communicate the value to your employer, and bringing things together in a way that makes economic sense to your employer.

# 5 You can change employers and find an employer that can give you flexible hours. This is another way of splitting the difference. Find a new job which taps into your talents and maybe gives you flexible time. This may adjust your income, but now you’re finding time for your new business.

Here’s the key to all of this: If you’re working a full-time job and you want to start another business, you need to find a way to meet your current employer’s needs but also give you the time to do what you need to do, so I recommend a mind mapping exercise. Sit down and think about what your current employer’s needs are. Think about what value you offer in a traditional job setting in a salaried position, and think about how you can offer those skills and benefits to your current employer or another employer in a higher value-added way. This can increase your effective income per hour from your day job. The key here is to reduce your hours committed to your current income so that you have free time to build your business and build your next income stream.

It’s a tough jump. It’s much like a trapeze artist that’s jumping midair and waiting for the other trapeze to arrive. You hope you’ve got your timing right. There’s not a lot that can be done to minimize all that risk, but with careful planning, you can certainly control a lot of it.

What’s been your thoughts on this? Have you struggled with how to leave your current employer and start your new job? What would you do? Have you had experiences in the past? What advice would you give? Join us in the comments below.

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This posting is intended to be a tool to familiarize readers with some of the issues discussed herein.  This is not meant to be a comprehensive discussion and additional details should be discussed with your attorneys, accountants, consultants, bankers and other business planners who can provide advice for your circumstances. Each case is unique.  Past results do not guarantee future outcomes. This article should not be treated as legal advice to any person or entity. Debbie Schiel.


About the Author

Shawn McBride is the Chief Innovation Officer at McBride For Business, LLC. His signature keynote, The 3 Laws of Empowerment (, gives audiences an entertaining look at how they can prepare, plan and protect themselves. You can reach R. Shawn McBride at or (214) 418-0258.


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