You work a 9-5, but you know you want something more. Your entrepreneurial heart wants to do or make something amazing, but you feel stuck under a 40-hour work week. Before you quit your job and make the leap from employee to founder, here are 10 practical things you can do – outside of your work hours – to build your empire.
[Disclaimer: I use the term “empire” to mean ANY business, endeavour, or undertaking that one wants to pursue. That can be a multi-national company, or a thriving local freelance career. The empire is whatever drives you, and the thing that gets you excited to wake up in the morning.]
1. Use your free time to become an expert in something related to your future empire.
I read media and business blogs while half-watching Hawaii 5-0 after dinner. Keep up with the trends for the industry you want to join.
2. Build a website.
You don’t have to purchase a domain yet, but get something built, get something out there, and start experimenting with your branding. There are several free website building sites that are as easy to use as PowerPoint.
3. Do side gigs.
Make sure it won’t interfere with your main job, because that’s your livelihood. But when it’s possible, take on work outside of the office to get your name and your skills out there. You can make great contacts and also build up your professional reputation for the work you really want to do.
4. Related to the last one, practice your time management skills.
Think you’re busy juggling your 9-5, side gigs, and personal life? Running your empire will keep you wayyy busier. Start learning your best time management techniques now.
5. Study careers that you want to emulate.
Not only can this inspire you to think and dream bigger, but it can encourage you when you feel your career is lagging behind. Walt Disney is one of my professional role models, and he founded two unsuccessful animation companies before starting Disney Studios in 1923. What if he had given up after his second company went bankrupt?
6. Use your lunch break for empire building.
Frequently, I use that time to write blog posts while I eat. I’m doing that right now.
7. Have a 1-year, 3-year, and 5-year plan.
It doesn’t have to be written out to expert degree. But have a concrete sense – written on paper – of where you’re going and how soon you’d like to get there. It’s easy to say “someday,” but so often “someday” just doesn’t come. Don’t let that happen.
8. Make stuff.
Even if no one is paying you, work on the things you want to be doing in your empire…right now! If it’s developing an app, writing a business plan, or making short films, it’s never too soon to start on the work you dream of doing. You can always find time for the things that are important to you. See #4.
9. Get business cards.
Nothing in the world makes you feel more legit than having business cards with your name and the name of your company (even if it’s just your DBA.) No need to spend lots of money on them, though I would suggest getting them professionally printed. Give them out when you connect with people outside your 9-5. People outside your 9-5 won’t know you as Jimmy from Accounting…they’ll know you as James, Founder & CEO.
10. Tell other people about the empire you want to build.
Even if your dream feels crazy or impossible, tell someone. It helps make it real, somehow, that this thing that you dream of doing or building doesn’t just exist in your mind, but it exist in the minds of other too. Especially tell the people closest to you, and be accountable to them. They want to see your dreams come true too!
What are some ways YOU build your empire in your free time? Leave a comment below with your tips!
This article first appeared on http://www.daniellemelissovasthompson.com.