I’ve heard the same question many times asking “can I start a venture part-time, on the side?” My advice is always the same: you can, but of the hundreds of entrepreneurs I’ve talked to, only one was successful (defined as built a multi-million dollar revenue company) doing the business part-time for the first few years. Now, this is different from a scenario like that of Marc Benioff, CEO of Salesforce.com, that started working on the business part-time while he was still at Oracle, but he also invested $6 million of his own money and had a full-time team working on the company.
Here are some reasons why being a part-time entrepreneur might not result in success:
- Challenge of making enough progress with the opportunity relative to how fast the market is moving
- Lack of belief in the idea and/or market, resulting in a wait and see approach
- Difficulty in juggling a day job and doing a startup on nights and weekends
- Inability to get other team members or co-founders to join because of the perceived lack of seriousness
My belief is that the first issue (not making enough progress) is the real killer of part-time startups because they are such roller coasters whereby you need high highs to balance the low lows. I do believe working on a startup part-time is worth the effort but I would stress that that is more of a learning experience and less of a recipe for success. Good luck!