You Can Live Your Startup Dream Without Quitting Your Day Job. Here’s How

Over the past decade, the “Hollywood” version of entrepreneurship has captured the public’s imagination. Entrepreneurs are portrayed as people who inhabit a better version of our reality, insulated by their fearlessness, their smarts, and their general awesomeness. In that sense, entrepreneurs, like hipsters or yuppies before them, have become a type. They are the kind of people who come up with an idea, quit their job, brave the toughest of odds, and face down risk on a daily basis, all for a chance at freedom and untold riches.

Now consider the case of Peter Barlow. Although Peter is a successful lawyer, he’s always been passionate about entrepreneurship. But after surviving full-times roles at two failed startups, he learned to appreciate the stability and the prestige of working at a law firm. Even though he abandoned the roller coaster of full-time entrepreneurship, Peter still found a way to pursue entrepreneurship on a part-time basis. Investing 10% of his time and capital to do so, he is now what I call a 10% Entrepreneur. By engaging in opportunities that draw on his knowledge and his network, he is now a partner in two successful side businesses, all while maintaining a robust law practice.

In addition to the excitement of being part of innovative and fast growing ventures, he has created significant upside for himself. One of his investments, Silvercar, is renowned for completely reinventing the car rental experience. There are no lines or paperwork, and the company’s fleet consists entirely of silver Audi A4s. By the end of its third year of operations, the Silvercar managed a fleet of more than a thousand silver Audis. It has also raised in excess of $50 million from investors, including Audi and Eduardo Saverin, the cofounder of Facebook.

For all of us who aren’t going to throw caution to the wind and jump into the unknown, Peter’s approach is a game changer. It also completely rethinks how you can build your career. Until recently, I saw full-time entrepreneurship as the only guaranteed pathway to build a career that offers both upside and freedom. That’s problematic because taking a purely entrepreneurial path is not for everyone. It requires a certain fire in your belly, and not everyone has that fire or even wants to embark on such a career. Some of the most talented professionals I know are also people who will never leave their jobs, even if they someday grow to hate them.

I don’t fault them. It’s not easy to uproot your career, with all the perks and comforts, even if you find that going to work has lost its luster or that you simply want more. Still, maintaining the status quo is not an acceptable alternative. Job security is a relic of the past and lots of once lucrative careers no longer offer the financial rewards that they once did. Plus, you’re missing out on a world of opportunities that you’ll never experience if you keep your head down and stick to the plan.

The antidote to this dilemma comes with a dose of pragmatism: full-time entrepreneurship is not for everyone. Acknowledge the fact that you’re not a full-time entrepreneur, and at least at this point, you’re not sure you’re ever going to be one. It’s ok. Even though you aren’t choosing to be an entrepreneur, you can still be entrepreneurial, by investing in, advising, or even starting new ventures.

It’s time to re-think the notion of entrepreneurship as an all-or-nothing proposition. Rather than being a distinct and irreconcilable path, entrepreneurship can enhance your career and serve as an avenue to diversification. So you don’t work for yourself? No problem. The skills and contacts you’ve developed both inside and outside of the office can provide ample opportunities to integrate entrepreneurship into your career and your life. Your day job can also provide the cash flow and the platform to participate in the most interesting of these projects.

The moment you abandon the conventional wisdom and no longer see entrepreneurship as a fork in the road, you will unlock a door that will take you on many new (ad)ventures. These projects will become a part of your resume and your portfolio no matter what happens in your day job. They will also empower you to build a series of diversified revenue streams or equity positions that can generate significant upside. That’s all available to you when you see entrepreneurship as something that goes far beyond an all-or-nothing choice.

Are you ready to start 10%-ing? Here’s an actionable guide so you can take the first steps towards the financial future you deserve. Don’t wait and start today!


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