3 reasons you shouldn’t quit your day job when starting a business

3 reasons you shouldn’t quit your day job when starting a business

Many people are attracted to running their own business because of the freedom it offers. And it’s quite true: living life on your own terms is part of the entrepreneur deal.

Right now, your great idea has you dreaming of your new self-determined lifestyle. Everywhere you go – online and in the real world – you’re now hearing stories about other entrepreneurs who wake when they want, enjoy an acai bowl, Instagram their Bircher muesli and have two Skype interviews with clients paying for their expertise.

It’s all exciting, and you want it now! You’ve begun fantasising about handing in your letter of resignation and kissing goodbye to the nine-to-five slog.

Hold your horses. Take a breath. Please don’t quit your day job while your business is in start-up.

Many entrepreneurs or coaches spruik a kind of balls-to-the-wall ‘all in or you’re a weakling’ attitude towards beginning a business. Time and again, I’ve observed this approach result in the failure of business concepts that, given a bit more breathing space and time to develop, could have become going concerns.

Here are three reasons why keeping your day job during start-up helps you become a better business owner.

1. You’ll be forced to make better decisions

A wonderful benefit of growing your start-up while working your day job is enforced pace.

Given that you won’t be able to spend every working day beavering away on your project (initially), your business’ development and growth is likely to be slower.

This might feel frustrating, as by this stage your brain is going to be buzzing with ideas. However, being forced by economic realities to take a slower pace means you’re going to make more considered decisions about your business.

That precious breathing space helps your brain settle, gives you a sense of perspective and allows you to recognise true gold from fool’s gold.

While you might feel stymied by your day job, its presence during this start-up phase is really a blessing, giving you the means to pay your rent and grow into your new life.

Your day job will also give you resources to invest into your new business that simply wouldn’t be there if you chucked the towel in – think website, photography, accountants, lawyers, coworking spaces… you get the idea!

100 Days of Brave by Iolanthe Gabrie

2. You’ll discover where your passion lies

Your business might sound amazing on paper.

Whether it’s an out-sourced administration brand, a mobile yum cha van or a lighting business, you’ve done all your vision-boarding and you’re sure it’s going to be a winner in the market.

You start working on your business, enthused, beavering away a couple of nights a week and on a Sunday.

The thing is, after a few months, you may not feel the excitement and joy you expected to feel about your business. In fact, your day job could be a relief compared to the little business you’ve brought to life.

If this happens to be your experience, feel no shame. Sometimes a business concept may be market-sound and making money – but you just don’t love it.

Living a life on your own terms doesn’t mean swapping your career as a discontented employee for a career as a discontented business owner.

Keeping your day job is so important during start-up, because it allows you to experiment with your new business emotionally. Do you actually like what you’re doing? Is the experience growing you or shrinking you?

If it’s the former, wonderful! Go forth, keep growing, and quit your day job when it is economically viable to do so. If it’s the latter, equally wonderful! Shelve the business idea – or, even better, sell it to another person who wants to make it their life.

You’ve learned what it’s like to be in business, and you’ve learned what you like and what you don’t. Importantly, you’ve had income to support you throughout the start-up experiment. Well done!

3. You’ll develop minimum viable product and proof of concept

Keeping your day job also gives you the time to work out if your business concept has legs. Whether you’re going it alone in the start-up phase or aiming to garner investor support, use your first year in business to develop a really concrete minimum viable product.

What’s that? It’s the market-acceptable prototype of whatever it is that your business sells. If you’re making physical items, this could be your ideal t-shirt, kitchen bench or cargo bike. If you’re delivering a service, it could be the systems surrounding terrific client briefing sessions and the subsequent delivery of appropriate coaching, or contracts, or copy, or physiotherapy.

In short, keeping your day job while beginning your business gives you the breathing space to better define and refine your offering, establishing proof of concept.

This is of terrific value to you as a business owner, as you’ll have tested your product and gathered market feedback before perfecting your offer – meaning your chances of success when you go full-time are higher, and your financial risk is lowered.

If you decide to go full-time without establishing a minimum viable product and proof of concept, you’re taking a big risk. You’re putting a huge amount of pressure on your fledgling business and yourself, which can often tip a perfectly good business concept over the edge and straight into oblivion.

So, before you dive head-first into quitting your day job to start your own business, weigh up the points above and see whether taking a more sensible approach. You may just find that having the breathing room will give you the space and time to develop a better business.

This is an edited extract from 100 Days of Brave: How to launch a business you love in three months by Iolanthe Gabrie. Purchase a copy here. Learn more at

Iolanthe Gabrie

This article was written by Iolanthe Gabrie.

Iolanthe is the Director of Melbourne-based social media agency Ruby Assembly. A senior communications strategist and business mentor, Iolanthe views female business ownership as an essentially empowering feminist act.

Iolanthe is a prolific business writer and podcaster (Sell Less, Mean More). Her great loves include Eurovision, oracle cards, co-working spaces and fabulous clothing.