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How to Keep Your Job While Getting Your Own Business Off the Ground

For entrepreneurs who need a set schedule, Chuck Russell, senior partner with IT consulting firm Collective Intelligence, says it's a good idea to budget definite blocks of time for your small business.

"One of the things I tried to avoid was overcommitting given the relatively small number of hours I could spend on any project in a given week," Russell says of his own entrepreneurial experience. "So I began budgeting my time by allocating 20 to 28 hours per week to the new endeavor."

Once you feel your business is ready for a greater investment of your energy, it's definitely time to come clean to your employer about your new endeavor. If you're on good terms with your supervisors, Jeff Bell, professor of management at Dominican University in Chicago, says that it may be possible to "strike a deal" for part-time work.

"My recommendation would be to leave your full-time job but pursue independent contracting opportunities to provide supplemental income during the start-up phase," Bell says. "Folks can often strike this deal with their current employers who may understand the pursuit of a dream but may want to retain a needed skill set while they make succession plans for the entrepreneur's departure."

No matter what, do your best to keep a good relationship with your company, specifically any supervisors or colleagues you think are valuable for your network, says Sidnee Peck, director of entrepreneurial initiatives at the W.P. Carey School of Business.

"Be respectful and avoid the Jerry Maguire style of departure," Peck says. "No one knows if a business will be a success, and if you want to work in the industry again, you should not throw it in your company's face. At the same time, you do have to truly leave the company. That's the best way to be all in and devote yourself completely to your new business' success."
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