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How to escape the 9 to 5 and build a company?

mardybum

Contributor
Feb 18, 2017
9
22
13
32
Germany
I'm working a 9 to 5 job at the moment as a software developer and an engineer, and I just feel as if I need a change and that the 9 to 5 job is not leading anywhere. I am making reasonably good money but I am not really getting anything from it other than that.

I'm working in an industry where I see lots of potential for "Artificial Intelligence" and digitization solutions. I've got a couple of ideas that need executing.

However, I have some really nice things changing in my life: We are getting a child, which means I might not be able to afford any risks?

The question that I am facing is the following: Since I am planning a B2B solution that is rather complex and requires a strong partnership with established industry proven companies, it is very difficult to gain these partnerships during my 9 to 5 job. In addition to that my company would be in competition with my current company (which makes it difficult to incorporate during my 9 to 5 job). Without a registered company, no potential customer will talk to me, which means no sales! I could build a product next to my 9 to 5, but this still doesn't solve the "getting a customer" issue.

In my current situation I cannot afford to quit my 9 to 5, because my savings are limited and I cannot afford any negative cash flow.

I have a pretty long period of notice of 6 months, which doesnt make things easier in getting out.

I have quite a lot of experience in my particular industry, would one solution be to do some customized programming jobs and build my company at the same time?

I would be very grateful to have a discussion about my issues.

Sometimes it just helps to get some ideas from other people.

Thanks
 

Roli

Gold Contributor
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You said you are on nice money, so the key is to save as much of it as possible. Remember being fastlane is an attitude, so work on getting your personal debt to zero. Cut up/stop spending on credit cards and get your living expenses below your income.

Then work out how much you'll need to start your business and keep it running till it makes a profit, add this figure to your living expenses for the same period of time, and you have a figure to work towards.

As far as building contacts, build the actual product first and then worry about that, once you have everything in place you can quit your job and concentrate on it full time.
 

Michael Burgess

Bronze Contributor
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Sep 30, 2014
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Have you considered "House Hacking"? It's an idea where you purchase a small apartment building (2,3, or 4 units), live in the least valuable unit, and rent out the rest. The rental income may be enough to pay for all of your housing expenses, which can be a large portion of where our money flows. I don't know if you're currently renting or own a conventional home, but this is an idea really worth entertaining. You not only receive the benefit of reduced living expenses, but can also force appreciation on the building, and you'll pay down the principal owed over time.

@G_Alexander wrote a great thread on it here:
GOLD! - STOP Paying Rent: Live For Free

I also parrot what @Roli said about cutting your expenses. It's not something I have been great at personally, but am really taking a stand against it nowadays. The more you can save, the better - don't cut to the point of going insane, but if you can reduce driving, eating out, unnecessary material purchases, trips, etc, it all adds up.

Have you ever built a business before? Do you have any other good ideas that may not be as complicated as your first idea, to get the ball rolling? If you could support yourself as an independent software developer, that may give you enough time and freedom to work on the bigger idea. Just a few thoughts!
 

RazorCut

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Although I generally do not recommend a partnership teaming up with a suitable other could also be a way forward.

Engineer's tend to hate the selling aspects of business (and often do a poor job because of it being outside their area of expertise and comfort zone). So maybe if you had someone who was the 'yin to your yang' you could gain traction much sooner.

How does your works contract effect the ability to compete in the same niche?
 

mardybum

Contributor
Feb 18, 2017
9
22
13
32
Germany
Although I generally do not recommend a partnership teaming up with a suitable other could also be a way forward.

Engineer's tend to hate the selling aspects of business (and often do a poor job because of it being outside their area of expertise and comfort zone). So maybe if you had someone who was the 'yin to your yang' you could gain traction much sooner.

How does your works contract effect the ability to compete in the same niche?
Yes thats quite a feasible idea and I have thought of this quite often. In general, I do have an MBA degree, so I do feel comfortable on the business side, but by heart I am a software developer, yes.

Ok I think there is some further explanation required regarding the incorporation of a company and regarding the competitive problem: I live in Germany, and most (including mine) work contracts require that you inform your employer if you have a side hustle. The side hustle can be denied if you are in competition with your current employer. The further problem is that Germany is quite a bit behind in some aspects, and that side hustles are not very well appreciated.
 

Thinh

Contributor
Read Millionaire Fastlane
Aug 11, 2018
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it is very difficult to gain these partnerships during my 9 to 5 job. In addition to that my company would be in competition with my current company (which makes it difficult to incorporate during my 9 to 5 job).
Could you elaborate a bit on this?
The way you say it makes it sound like there are two problems.
Why do you say it would be "very difficult to gain these partnerships" aside the fact that your new company would be in competition with your current company?

Regarding this last point, does your company HAVE to know what you're doing? Of course, now this is a matter of ethics.

In any case, you are clear on the fact that the income you get from this job is important to you. I definitely wouldn't advise to quit your job now. Though, your choice isn't just either staying or quitting; why don't you simply seek another job first? This would act as a "transition" job. One maybe with a bit more of leeway, especially in a company that would not be in direct competition.

That way you still have a safety net and can overlap working on your business. THEN, when your business makes enough money, you quit the transition job.
 

mardybum

Contributor
Feb 18, 2017
9
22
13
32
Germany
Could you elaborate a bit on this?
The way you say it makes it sound like there are two problems.
Why do you say it would be "very difficult to gain these partnerships" aside the fact that your new company would be in competition with your current company?

Regarding this last point, does your company HAVE to know what you're doing? Of course, now this is a matter of ethics.

In any case, you are clear on the fact that the income you get from this job is important to you. I definitely wouldn't advise to quit your job now. Though, your choice isn't just either staying or quitting; why don't you simply seek another job first? This would act as a "transition" job. One maybe with a bit more of leeway, especially in a company that would not be in direct competition.

That way you still have a safety net and can overlap working on your business. THEN, when your business makes enough money, you quit the transition job.
Ok sure: So it would definitely not be the same product as my current employer makes, not even close, it would much more be an addition. The problem however is that the customer (or at least one customer) would be the same.

Another problem that I see is that the industry is rather large, and that the enterprise software that I am planning is quite complex. I think you are right: I read zero to one from Peter Thiel again yesterday, and he says that you need to start with a small market, to start with solving a small and UNIQUE problem. In my opinion that is quite valuable advice.

I think its very difficult to get a partner that I trust, because enterprise software requires a lot of work. I am >5 years out of college and the people that I know are all settled and definitely on the slow lane or even side walk (and I say this with a lot of respect).

Making a product as a side hustle and then seeing where this leads sounds like a feasible and good plan to me.
 

RazorCut

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I live in Germany, and most (including mine) work contracts require that you inform your employer if you have a side hustle. The side hustle can be denied if you are in competition with your current employer. The further problem is that Germany is quite a bit behind in some aspects, and that side hustles are not very well appreciated.
I don't follow this. You are required to inform your employer if you have a side hustle but not if your side hustle is in direct competition with your employer? That sounds insane to me.

It's one thing to flip burgers or pull pints on the side but quite another to actively pursue a side project that has a detrimental effect on the company paying you.

As an employer I might not like it but I don't have major concerns if an employee has a side hustle (as long as it doesn't interfere with their work for my company), but if that hustle hurts my business then I'd REALLY want to know about it (they would be toast).

I would have thought anyone in a position of responsibility would have some non compete clause in their contract. Years ago, as a sales representative, my contract stated I couldn't poach company customers if I left their employment. I would have thought that was standard fare. Am I wrong?

EDIT my post wasn't aimed at you personally but as an example looking from an employers viewpoint so I've edited it to read more clearly.
 
Last edited:

mardybum

Contributor
Feb 18, 2017
9
22
13
32
Germany
I don't follow this. You are required to inform your employer if you have a side hustle but not if your side hustle is in direct competition with your employer? That sounds insane to me.
You have to inform your employer either way if you have a side hustle. It can only be denied if you are (even remotely) in competition with your current employer. This does actually make sense: If I would have a business I would be quite angry if one of my employees had a side business with which he tries to compete with my business.

I guess in general enterprise software can be very tricky and difficult if you just have a side business. Especially if you try to sell software that is in the 10.000 - 100.000$ price range. These kinds of deals require a long acquisition phase and need a lot of resources. That said I might reconsider some things. Maybe start a software consultant firm in my niche and try and grow a product from there. But thats just throwing some ideas around.
 

RazorCut

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I get you. They can't stop you having a side hustle except if it is deemed competition. So telling them you work in a bar for example is a requirement but really just a courtesy. Nothing more.
 

COSenior

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As far as building contacts, build the actual product first and then worry about that, once you have everything in place you can quit your job and concentrate on it full time.
I totally disagree! Market research first, then build product. If you can't do market research because of your job, then you need a different path - maybe, as someone else suggested, a different side hustle to begin with while you build up your savings, one that couldn't possibly be deemed competition with your current company.

Consider also whether your current company could claim rights to your ideas if you build your product while you're working there. That's been known to happen in the US, even when it was done outside the job hours. Not sure about Germany, but maybe it's spelled out in your contract.
 

mardybum

Contributor
Feb 18, 2017
9
22
13
32
Germany
I totally disagree! Market research first, then build product. If you can't do market research because of your job, then you need a different path - maybe, as someone else suggested, a different side hustle to begin with while you build up your savings, one that couldn't possibly be deemed competition with your current company.

Consider also whether your current company could claim rights to your ideas if you build your product while you're working there. That's been known to happen in the US, even when it was done outside the job hours. Not sure about Germany, but maybe it's spelled out in your contract.
Yes thats a good piece of advice, I will seek into it.
 

Roli

Gold Contributor
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Jun 3, 2015
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I totally disagree! Market research first, then build product. If you can't do market research because of your job, then you need a different path - maybe, as someone else suggested, a different side hustle to begin with while you build up your savings, one that couldn't possibly be deemed competition with your current company.

Consider also whether your current company could claim rights to your ideas if you build your product while you're working there. That's been known to happen in the US, even when it was done outside the job hours. Not sure about Germany, but maybe it's spelled out in your contract.
Usually I'd agree with you, however the OP said this:

In addition to that my company would be in competition with my current company (which makes it difficult to incorporate during my 9 to 5 job).
So rather than risk getting sacked, I suggest he should simply make the product first, especially as procrastination is one of his problems.
 

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