15 Ways to Use Your 9-5 Job to Start a Business : Under30CEO 15 Ways to Use Your 9-5 Job to Start a Business : Under30CEO
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15 Ways to Use Your 9-5 Job to Start a Business

| August 19, 2010 | 34 Comments

secretEditors Note: This article and its suggestions were meant to come across as observations of what goes on in the business world. All of the points were simply taken from actual conversations with entrepreneurs and business people. We apologize that it has come across as tips and advice for everyone to follow.

Every young entrepreneur is looking for resources to start their new business. One of the big questions always is:

How do I start a business and sacrifice not making any money in the beginning?

Answer: Get a job!

Wait isn’t this the exact opposite of why you are starting a business in the first place? Well yes but there is a catch. Many young people take jobs to simply support themselves while their own business gets rolling. Many of these ideas and suggestions are brought up behind closed doors but today we figured we would shed some light on things that happen everyday in the business world.

Below are 15 things that many young people do and look for when getting a job while starting up their own business…

1. Get a Cubicle: Cubicles suck but you don’t want the whole office to see your computer screen when your working on your business or hear all of your phone calls. You want a desk, computer, phone and some privacy to do your own stuff!

2. Analyze the interview: Yes this time you were trying to get hired. Next time you will be doing the hiring. Understand what the interviewer asked and how they approached a new applicant and why. You need to understand this process if you want to hire the right people.

3. Phone: Don’t rack up minutes on your cell phone. Use the office line!

4. Fax/Copy/Print: Use their paper! And you probably won’t have easy access to some of these things if you were working from home to start. Take advantage and get things done that need to be done with them.

5. Be discrete: Not that it matter that much but you want to last as long as you can.

6. Don’t take a “good job”: Your goal here is not to be promoted. So don’t spend extra time bending over backwards for people to get things done.  Your goal is to make some money while starting a business so make sure you have the time to do your own stuff.

7. Specialized departments: Use the legal and accounting departments and get basic questions answered. Just walk in or ask to have lunch with one of them to ask a few questions. Even if you don’t need the answers tomorrow think ahead because they are a great resource to use while you have the job.

8. Supplies: Who hasn’t taken a few pens, staplers or note pads from the office?

9. Talk commitment: Don’t walk into the interview saying your staying for less then a year. Sell them that your here for the long haul. You know what you want to do but don’t let everyone in on this plan.

10. Be extra friendly: Don’t make enemies in the work place. This is the first networking you are doing. You want to promote your business to them and work with your co-workers even after you leave.

11. Forms/Documents: Odds are you will be able to get your hand on proposals, contracts and other business docs that your employer uses. Don’t copy them but review them and use them as a base to make your own companies forms.

12. Computer: We all know everyone spends all day on twitter, facebook and reading articles like this. Take the time to be productive on your own emails, writing, learning etc. Take care of small tasks that can save a lot of time when you get home later.

13. Watch management: How do they work? How do they manage? Why do they do things? You will be in this spot soon.

14. Quit: If your ready to move on or if you sense the company catching on or isn’t happy because of your lack of effort. Quit! No one wants to get fired.

Don’t forget to promote! When you do leave don’t forget to tell everyone why! Hopefully you have made some friends who will support you and maybe even be your 1st customers. Or they might be your connection to your 1st customers.

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Category: Startup Advice

  • http://www.cwcaton.com Chris Caton

    So your advice to new entrepreneurs is to steal, lie, and be unproductive? And then you tell them to “network” and “make friends” with the people whom they are exploiting? Perhaps some more ethical advice: work hard at that job, work long hours, earn enough money to buy the things you're being tempted to steal, and leave on a positive note. Be the rockstar they want to retain, so that when you leave, they know your startup will be as awesome as you were. Cut back on your socializing, your time spent on other hobbies, and maybe even your sleep, and channel that energy into your new business.

    When you want to start something new, it should be at your own expense, not at the expense of the people who offer you a job.

  • http://blog.optimalupgrades.ca Elie

    Sorry, this list is completely unethical, involving items that are not only morally wrong, but can get you fired with cause if you're caught, taken to court, sued for theft.

    You had some good points – watch management, analyze the interview, be friendly. But that doesn't make it right to steal supplies and time from your employer.

  • Guest

    I agree with Chris. What a pathetic way to start a business! Unfortunately, this kind of stuff probably happens all the time. I hope your article is intended just to see what responses you'll get from readers. If you truly believe in this tactic, all of your other posts have lost credibility in my eyes. I will run far, far away from advice encouraging entrepreneurs to be crooked business people.

  • Corry

    What a terrible, terrible list. I wouldn't do business with someone with these principles, let alone post this to a blog on entrepreneurship.

    If anyone is green enough in business or start-ups to take this list seriously, then this blog has done a big disservice to them.

    For a real and honest look at the question, I'd recommend reading this: http://blog.asmartbear.com/working-startup.html

    Under30CEO – please show better editorial insight in future.

  • http://twitter.com/ChrisPJr Chris Pittman

    These aren't tips I would give on a blog of this nature. Some of these things are highly unprofessional and, at most companies, would violate many policies and procedures.

    3. This is fine in some offices, but can be frowned upon in others. It depends on the office phone use policy. For example, in my office we are free to use the phones for personal use. However, we cannot use the phones to conduct business that is unrelated to the company.

    4. Some offices have very strict policies governing how office supplies are to be used. Violation of these policies oftentimes can lead to severe discipline, up to and including immediate termination.

    5. The fact that you suggested being discreet so that you might last 'as long as you can' suggests that these are things that could possibly get you fired – and they are.

    6. Probably the most unethical suggestion I've ever seen on a business blog. First thing, don't take ANY job if you don't plan on fully committing to it. It costs money and time for businesses – both small and large – to hire people. To take a job, not give it your all, use the company's resources for personal use, and quit once you're all done is wrong. And I'm sure it's something you wouldn't want someone to do in the business that you're working to start.

    8. Again, huge violation of policy at most companies.

    9. See my number six.

    14. Again, see my number six.

    Whatever you do, make sure you don't violate any non-compete agreements that you may have agreed to when you were hired. The last thing you want to do is create legal problems for your company before it even exists. And all of this is especially true if you're starting a business that will compete with the company you're working for.

  • http://Under30CEO.com Jared O'Toole

    I see many negative comments so far….However I think people fail to see that it isn't a matter of if these things should happen it is a fact that they DO happen.

    If you talk to many young entrepreneurs who have a corporate job yet are starting a business they will tell you they do exactly these things. They use company time and resources to progress their own venture. It's not just a suggestion but what actaully happens in the world.

  • http://Under30CEO.com Jared O'Toole

    Thanks for the comment Chris. I think the bigger picture to see here though is the fact that this stuff does happen. Many young people do this everyday in their jobs.

    Many people take jobs with full intention of leaving to do something else and while they are at that job they take and learn what they can for their own future endeavors.

  • http://under30ceo.com MattWilsontv

    Make no mistake:

    Do the job you are getting paid to do AND

    Use your 9-5 as a resources to do bigger and better things.

  • http://www.cwcaton.com Chris Caton

    “15 Ways To Do X” is a totally different headline from “15 X's That Happen.”

    In fact, the post opens up with this sentence: “How do I start a business and sacrifice not making any money in the beginning?” It continues: “Below are 15 things to think about and utilize when you get a corporate job while starting your own company…”

    Sorry, but this is a how-to for unethical behavior, not an analysis of current trends.

  • http://Under30CEO.com Jared O'Toole

    ok fair enough…so the article was phrased in a poor manner. That is fine and sorry if it was. We will be more careful next time. But I am happy to see the discussion here and the response to “darkside” of business which does happen everyday.

  • Disgusted

    Re: Jared's comment

    Negative comments? I see the comments as very positive – people are standing up for ethics in the workplace.

    Sure, this stuff probably does happen frequently, but it doesn't make it right. The line in your post, “This is not a stretch or unethical” is disappointing. Like comments from others, the fact that you suggest this type of behavior has turned me away from your blog.

    Entrepreneurs I know aren't willing to sacrifice moral character for the sake of achieving a goal faster. I don't believe your comment that many entrepreneurs “will tell you they do exactly these things.” The successful entrepreneurs I know definitely wouldn't suggest that.

  • http://twitter.com/ChrisPJr Chris Pittman

    Thank you for the reply Jared. Let me say that I read content from this blog everyday and believe it is a great resource for young entrepreneurs. However, after reading this post, I was completely shocked at it's apparent disregard for the most basic business principles.

    While these are things that do happen all the time in businesses everywhere, that does not make them right and you – as a professional and entrepreneur – should not recommend that anyone employ these strategies to use their 9-5 job to start a business.

    Working for a company to learn the ins and outs of an industry is one thing. But accepting a job, underperforming, and stealing both time and money is completely different and should never be suggested.

  • http://Under30CEO.com Jared O'Toole

    Thanks for the reply. I understand your side of it and thanks for the input.

    1 thing I will say. Not a single one of the tips was brainstormed for this post. All 15 had been noted and observed over the past couple years either given to us or others as advice. I believe that this advice is a very common behind closed doors activity amongst young entrepreneurs and we simply put some light on it.

    Also thanks for reading everyday. Means a lot and sorry if this post struck you the wrong way.

  • Vernon Johnson

    Re: Negative Reactions

    The “problem” with this post is that it describes behavior that most saavy entrepreneurs engage in, yet no one ever openly admits to

    Excluding the “principaled” trust fund babies, this list make perfect sense for those of us who:
    –Don't have parents to move in with or bail us out
    –Don't have an Ivy League Degree to effortlessly open doors
    –Are struggling to pay off student loans
    –Live cheaply but still struggle to make ends meet
    –Eat less so that we can devote more money to the start-up


  • http://www.tracecohen.me/ Trace Cohen

    This is all obviously pretty unethical so I don't endorse all of them but some of this these can be very beneficial to your start-up. Most people don't go into a new job (probably their first!) thinking that I want to start my own company so this is only a stepping stone – I feel that most of these come out after working at the company for a while and discovering your passion for something else.

    #6 is the only one I 110% disagree with – everyone's goal should be to get a good, no, GREAT job and work there for a while while doing a passion project on the side.

  • http://entrepreneurinmaking.com Devesh

    @matt & @jared, Whenever I see “9-5″ and “business” in one sentence, I go crazy, you both know this is my fav topic and is close to heart… Here are the two ways I've always suggested to my clients and network:

    1. Learn the trade on your employer's dime: If you think you're not ready for the entrepreneurial roller-coaster just yet, take a 9-5 in the same industry and domain or the closest possible domain and industry. This way, you learn the trade (make mistakes and learn), make contacts in the industry, and most importantly get a very close view of what's happening in the industry which is a great opportunity to identify where are the gaps that your future startup can fill. It is however very important to not get addicted to the monthly paycheck :)

    2. Get a part-time 9-5, with less responsibility and afterwork stress: Take an entry level/ part time position that you know would have least after work stress, so that you still have enough time & energy for your startup. This is a great way of keeping the cash flow in control, work on your startup, and stay social as well…

    Your post definitely provoked quite a few brain cells and I'll add more thoughts as they come :)

  • Bola

    I was thinking of sharing this with my friends on FB as I do so many great posts but after reading up to #6, I was shocked and dropped the plan.

    I thought it was a guest post and I want to refer to the person giving this advice as someone with a criminal background but since Jared is defending this, it made me super shocked!

    It is criminal to carry this out in the workplace and do you know about the law of karma?

    PLEASE delete this post ASAP!

  • http://www.torontowebsitedeveloper.com Peter

    I have to agree, I think this is a pretty poor article to be on such a great site. While it may happen in the real world, it doesn't mean it is right nor should it be promoted. There is a right way and wrong way to do things and lying, cheating and stealing to start a business will eventually come back to bite you. The number one thing I've found to be important in my limited business experience is integrity and honesty, both lacking here.

  • http://www.astudentoftherealestategame.com/ Joe Stampone

    Hey Jared, I have to commend you and Matt on the amazing job you've done building Under30CEO. I understand that these are observations and of course happen all the time, but they shouldn't be presented as advice or tips. Rather, can I suggest a follow-up post on things that you can do at your 9-5 to make you indispensable and prepare you to start a business.

    For example,
    - Become a jack of all trades and get involved in every aspect of the business. In real estate, even if you're a financial analyst, become involved with the design/marketing/construction teams, learn negotiation etc.
    - Gain the respect of your bosses – they could become invaluable mentors in the future.
    - Similarly, impress clients, not with the idea that you're going to steal them in the future, but rather use them to get referrals or for advice.

    Thinks like this are how you should promote using a 9-5 to prepare you to start a business. I highly suggest creating a follow-up post to this controversial post.

    Keep crushing it guys.

  • Toddlius

    What is this?! An article promoting petty theft and unethical behavior? This Blog was a daily dose of wonderful information for us young folks pursuing our business dreams, not vying for cutthroat corporate-world lifestyles. “15 Ways to Use Your 9-5 Job to Start a Business.” Why don't you write an article on how integrity is quintessential for winning at life & on the job. Better yet, just plagiarize some of Jim Rohn's articles and post it on this blog. I'm disappointed in you, Under 30 CEO crew.

  • Guapoguapo

    I actually engage in some these activities at my workplace. I have a cubicle. I have used office supplies and copy/printer for the business I'm launching. I've used my office phone to do business talks during and after work hours. I also look at forms, contracts, etc for a base. I talk about my commitment (or lack thereof). And I promote. When I'm doing this I don't feel it's unethical or unjust. In fact, I think it's a good use of resources. I work for a small nonprofit Community Development Financial Institution. We do a lot of work in micro-enterprise and asset building. Everyone is all pretty transparent. For instance, everyone knows of my business. They are some of my biggest supporters. Any free conference, event, expo or any other opportunity for small business owners they pass to me. And they are always eager to see/hear what's new with my progress. As far as commitment we all talk openly about our aspirations and what we want to do. Sometimes our COO will send out job postings that she feels we might be interested in.

    At the same time we all are very serious about our work. And our reputation, relationships, alliances, and track history are all testament to that. For such a small office we do a lot of work and it doesn't go unseen. With that said I know that my experience is probably not the norm. Personally, I feel fortunate to be working here. I really enjoy what I do and it actually is an interest of mine. It just so happens that I have the flexibility (and that I just make it work) to pursue my other interests.

  • http://Under30CEO.com Jared O'Toole

    Thanks for the comment Joe. I understand the advice/tip feel made it awkward…We actaully re-did the intro a little to combat that. But we wanted to touch on things that we hear about all the time. Many young people do these things at their job and take jobs to do them. Its just a fact.

    And the follow is a great idea. We will look into that and probably get something up in a few weeks. Thanks again!

  • http://Under30CEO.com Jared O'Toole

    Sorry it came across this way. We have added a note at the top. We meant to relay ideas and conversations that we have been a part of over time. Obviously it came across as tips/advice for all rather than observations of things happening.

  • http://Under30CEO.com Jared O'Toole

    Sorry it came across that way Chris. It was meant as observations of what goes on with many people out there. We meant to inform rather than advise on these types of things. But I do strongly believe that all of these things happen frequently and many people utilize resources from their job to work on their own ventures.

  • http://twitter.com/JessicaSadoway Jessica Sadoway

    Good work on sparking such a lively debate and defense of business ethics!

    I agree with Joe Stampone that a follow-up post with a more positive and encouraging angle is absolutely necessary. To further that, I believe it should replace this post entirely.

    I understand that you were trying to provide a commentary or list of mere observations, but there are many who will take the post at face value – even despite the disclaimer you added. Even if you are not officially endorsing these behaviors, the fact that you are noting them on your blog without reproaching them or offering alternatives will be perceived as an unofficial endorsement. In fact, I just noticed this post is still filed under “Startup Advice.” You are disseminating dishonest and unethical business practices to young people who are laying the groundwork for future businesses.

    If you do decide to keep this post, I suggest more thorough editing. It's possible to get this back on the right track so it can remain under the “Startup Advice” heading. I would be interested in editing this myself to throw it into a better light, if would like to see what I have in mind.

  • David

    Oh man.. this is a great article. I'm doing almost all of that right now!

    You should add “Read Under30ceo.com and your other favorite blogs during work time” to the list..

    I love it!

  • http://twitter.com/Caleb_Parker Caleb Parker

    Wow, I haven’t read all of the comments, just the first few and your replies. I think to shed some light on the issue, a better title would have been 15 ways you should NOT use your 9-5 to start your business. The follow up post you write about how to REALLY use your 9-5 to start a business should include 2, 7, 10, 11 & 13 – as well as the importance of building your professional reputation. Joe & Chris has some great advice. Work harder than anyone else, network network network – attend as many business related events, especially if they put you in contact with experienced CEOs.

    I started my first business part-time while working a job when I was ‘under 30′. It wasn’t a 9-5, but rather a 3-11. That allowed me to support myself, but also operate my business during business hours. I met other business owners, 2 of which ended up being mentors and great sources of advice when I had challenges in my business.

    Looking forward to reading the follow up post!

  • Christineidokogi

    Temp jobs are great for this!

  • http://www.thebootstrapcoach.com/ Josh Bulloc

    Here is the way I approach it. I realize that I made a commitment to my employer that I want to keep. My expectation is that I stay in the job for about 1.5 years for them to make a return on their investment on me. Beyond that I get all the training and experience I can knowing I will be able to use that knowledge later but I use it to increase my employer’s investment in me. I then spend all of my other hours building my business with the knowledge I have earned.

    Josh Bulloc
    Kansas City, MO
    How can I help?

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Watts-Resume/100001574288142 Watts Resume

    great advice i do it everyday XD

  • Usama

    Observe and opt from your office. Get to know the professional life before starting one.

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  • http://entrepreneurinmaking.com Devesh

    I just wrote something related, give it a read! – http://www.breakingthe9to5jail.com/the-side-hustle/

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