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Doin' Time

How many hours will you commit to your new start-up business?

Once you decide to become your own boss, you need to determine whether you'll operate your new business on a part-time or a full-time basis. Each has its advantages. Whatever your choice, keep in mind that a focused commitment is required whether you devote 40-plus hours a week to your entrepreneurial endeavor or run it part time or seasonally.

Starting out on a full-time basis can be ideal for entrepreneurs with a good deal of work experience related to the venture they're launching--and a long list of contacts and potential customers resulting from that experience. It allows an entrepreneur to grow a successful business more quickly by providing a solid customer pool to concentrate your efforts on right away.

Still, many new businesses are begun part-time rather than full-time. Doing so allows employed entrepreneurs to learn whether a venture will succeed before severing all ties with their employers and before devoting unrestricted time and resources. It also enables many of these entrepreneurs to hold on to health-care benefits and a steady paycheck while testing the waters and honing new skills.

The decision of whether to operate a start-up business on a part-time or a full-time basis is a highly personal one. You must assess your unique circumstances, resources and skills.

To provide examples of the decision-making process involved, our Building Blocks entrepreneurs have returned to explain how they resolved the issue of part time versus full time.

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This article was originally published in the October 1997 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Doin' Time.

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