What It's Like Being An Entrepreneur While Still Keeping A Day Job

Being an entrepreneur is as difficult as climbing Mount Everest. Attempting to be an entrepreneur, whilst keeping a day job, is like climbing Mount Everest with flip flops.

learn more about Khaled Ismail

By Khaled Ismail


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Being an entrepreneur is as difficult as climbing Mount Everest. Attempting to be an entrepreneur, whilst keeping a day job, is like climbing Mount Everest with flip flops.

We only hear about a handful of people who started in their garages and made it very big. Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg, Jeff Bezos, and the likes. Why don't we hear about the other tens of thousands who started their businesses in their garages, living rooms or bedrooms?

That's because we don't like failure and we don't like to be associated with failure. Yet, I've learned that failure is the key to growth and progress.

Babies are a great example of successful entrepreneurs who don't give up and are adamant not to fail. Imagine what the world would be like if babies decided to give up on walking after they fell the first time they tried?

Just imagine. The sight wouldn't be pretty, looking at a bunch of adults crawling around offices or construction sites. I digress... but yes, to be an entrepreneur you need guts, perseverance and a truckload of patience.

But three important ingredients of any successful venture are focus, dedication and time- three luxuries which no corporate person working full time for someone else has enough of.

From my experience with startups, including my latest social media app, the vlogging app 1TAM, One Thing About Me, that I launched with my business partner, Anwar Nusseibeh, we realized the sheer effort it took us. We had to dedicate many nights, weekends and a lot of our free time to get our startup off the ground. It took us quadruple the time, but we got there. Are we successful? Not yet. Have we made it? Far from it, but we didn't give up.

Having said that, there are three benefits to having a full-time job while attempting to be an entrepreneur:

  • You minimize the risk You won't have to wonder where the next meal will come from or if you will be able to pay the rent this month. Your job will allow you to earn while you develop your startup business. Yes, you need to hustle.
  • You bring knowledge and value to your startup Being in the corporate world teaches you skills you won't learn in a startup, like discipline, organization structures, people skills and time management.
  • It allows you to use your network for your own benefit Working for a well-established company means that you interact and deal with influential people who can support, connect and guide you.

On the other hand, there are three benefits of being an entrepreneur while having a full-time job :

  • Entrepreneurs work with shoestring budgets to survive You'll learn to maximize your every dollar at work.
  • Entrepreneurs are more creative in dealing with challenges out of necessity You'll learn to solve problems faster at work.
  • Entrepreneurs must have a holistic view of their business Be it finance, legal, marketing, product development, you name it, you have to do it- and this gives you the opportunity to have a wider lens at your everyday job. You never know, you may even get a promotion because you now can excel and add more value to your day job.

Either way, there is no guarantee that you'll be the next Gates, Jobs, Zuckerberg or Bezos, but you'll sure be a lot wiser and more prepared next time someone tells you to climb Mount Everest- with or without flip flops.

Related: The Dark Side Of Sustaining An SME

Khaled Ismail


Khaled Ismail, CEO/Partner at TOUGHLOVE Advisors, is a pragmatic business leader who is fascinated about business and their inner workings.

A former global executive leading marketing, branding, public affairs, and communications operations for the Europe, Central Asia, Middle East and Africa regions, he has more than 30 years of experience, which started in advertising and then continued in international sales, marketing and branding in FMCG (B2C) and food packaging industries (B2B), including Tetra Pak and The Coca-Cola Company. He is also an active investor in technology, beverages, sports marketing, and finance.

Khaled has a bachelor of commerce degree from Concordia University in Canada and has completed several executive programmes in leadership and management at Ashridge in the UK, International Institute for Management Development (IMD) in Switzerland, and Harvard Business School in the USA. Born in Beirut, he is a Canadian citizen and has lived and worked in 15 countries, and he now calls Dubai home. Khaled is also the Chairman of the Marketing Society in the UAE, and is a very well-respected business leader, public speaker, marketer and mentor to young entrepreneurs. Khaled is also a published author of a book titled This Is What Tickles Me.

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