by Stella Fayman on February 1, 2012
Pooja Vithlani knows what it’s like to bring a vision to reality on a part time basis. She is the creator of Sass Factory, a customizable, paper-doll inspired t-shirt and applique line for girls age 5-12 with an interactive web experience. Over the next week, Pooja will share some insights and references based on her experience with entrepreneurship.
Working at one of the world’s largest and most successful companies as her day job, which was anything but a typical 9 to 5 gig, Pooja always knew she wanted to work for herself one day but wasn’t ready to give up the lifestyle her job afforded her. As a single woman, Pooja had mortgages and car payments she was responsible for, and she knew she wasn’t able to walk away from the security of her paycheck.
She recently launched Sass Factory, after over two years of building the vision. She is often called upon to advise others stuck in the daily grind on how they can start their own businesses on the side, and has shared what she has learned to inform and prepare them for the realities. Here’s what she would recommend to others who wish to bootstrap while working their 9-5:
I knew from as far back as I remember that I wanted to run my own business one day. I honestly thought it would be something to do with the hospitality industry as that was the industry I was most familiar with growing up. However life sometimes takes its own course and one thing leads to another until one day I woke up and found myself working at the corporate headquarters of one of the most successful companies in the world, through very little of my own personal effort.
Growing up I was always described as “happy-go-lucky”, but the older I got, the more I began to realize that I had responsibilities and that I needed to be very intentional in my life plans to continue to enjoy the lifestyle I had gotten accustomed to. I can’t say I loved my 9-5 job – the novelty had worn off after the first many years. In fact, I often found my passion dwindling, yet I felt like I needed my job to pay my bills and afford my lifestyle.
So there I was, in my early 30’s. Life hadn’t gone the way I had expected. I wasn’t married with 1.5 kids by now and my very own business. In fact, I was as far away from that dream. I was in debt with two mortgages, a car payment and no happily ever after in sight.
I was however a very dedicated auntie to my niece and nephew. One day while playing with my little niece, we decided to create a t-shirt for with a character on it and detachable little clothes for the character on her t-shirt. She wore her t-shirt out and about and lo and behold, people asked where she bought it. I recognized a business opportunity and the idea for Sass Factory was born, as was my transformation to an “Auntrepreneur.”
So if you are like me and considering taking on the endeavor of starting your own business while keeping your day job, here are some considerations and realistic insights on what to expect:
1) Be honest with yourself about why you will not leave your day job. The truth is that it is much harder and takes much longer to start a business when you are working on it part time. In addition the safety net of having an income sometimes prevents people from following through, doesn’t motivate them to move fast enough or see it all the way through and can result in abandoning the idea altogether. Be honest with yourself about why you can’t or won’t leave your current job. If it’s simply a commitment issue, then ask yourself if you will commit to seeing the idea through. If you know you will suffer without your salary, then bootstrap while working your day job. Be smart.
2) Be clear about why you want to start your own business. Is it to make a quick buck or because you need a hobby or fancy an experiment. Is it because you would like an additional source of income or need a back-up plan in case you lose your job? Do you see yourself working on this business full time at some point and what will it take to get you to do that? For example, do you have to realize a certain amount of income from the business or do you have to save enough money to enable it? In my case, I had a desire to start my own business that would also serve as an outlet for my creativity, something I wasn’t always able to express in my day job. I hope to work for myself full time one day, but I know it will need to be when my business income meets my current income.