Nechelle Feaster, 24, admits cheating became standard practice in the two years it took to get her multimedia company going. Between 1996, when she launched New York City-based De Tai Technologies part time, and 1998, when she finally quit her day job, Feaster paid the bills by working in industries ranging from medicine to entertainment. The jobs not only paid the rent, but actually helped her start her business--because the tools she needed, such as a computer, fax and copy machine, were all located at the workplace--although sometimes not so conveniently.
"You're always looking over your shoulder," recalls Feaster, "trying to get your stuff done as fast as possible. You run to the printer as fast as you can, trying not to look like you're doing something [unrelated to work]."
Although Feaster told co-workers about her start-up, they were unaware of the extent of her outside work. And even though her bosses never challenged her, she ended up challenging herself.
"It gets to where you're tormented not by guilt, but by anxiety, trying to get everything done," she explains. "At my last job, they thought I was Superworker because I was always at my desk, but the reality was, I didn't have time to chitchat because I had to juggle the job and my business. I utilized my time a lot better. If I hadn't been trying to [run my business] on the side, I would have been doing things that were a waste of time, like taking extra breaks or calling my friends. [The business] made me more focused."
For entrepreneurs like Feaster, anxiety spurs them to better performance in both arenas. "My job wasn't [negatively] affected; actually, it was the opposite," she says. "I think it would have caused too much anxiety if my [business] was affecting my job, and then I probably would have gotten caught."