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Doing A Startup On The Side

Mary-Penny

“Do you want to be CEO of an empire or do you see this as a lifestyle business?”

By Carmen Feliciano (Co-Founder, Penny & Mary)

Women are so great at multi-tasking that is has been a repartee of many jokes.

With the decreasing cost of starting a business, it is therefore not surprising to find more and more women pursue their own startups while holding a full-time job. That said, any woman who plans to go down this path must consider a few things.

What is your end goal?

Do you want to be CEO of an empire or do you see this as a lifestyle business? The former definitely takes more commitment from you and forces you to set milestones (i.e. when to quit your job?).

Are your employers aware of your startup?

I’m not just asking this for fairness sake (after all, they are paying you for your nine-to-five day job) but because there might be legal ramifications. If you are pursuing something in the same industry as your job, check if you’ve signed a non-compete. If the output is also in line with what you are hired to do, there might be copyright or IP issues.

What are you willing to give up?

Time. You still need to do a kickass job in your nine-to-five while you plow through startup grunt from five-to-nine.

Money. It’s hard to find funding if you are not doing it full-time so bootstrapping is a common option.

Success. Or rather, a slower track to success. This is especially relevant if you want this to be more than a lifestyle business.

What are the resources available to you?

School network. A lot of schools are building their entrepreneurship programs and offer alumni resources and opportunities to connect with fellow entrepreneurs.

Tech community. There is growing interest in tech and one can find like-minded people via local groups or networks such as Women 2.0.

Mentor(s). There is no one formula for finding a mentor but the best bet is to talk to as many people as you can. You’d be surprised by how eager many successful people are to help out aspiring entrepreneurs who face the same challenges they did. I was fortunate to meet Christ Stanchak, founder and CEO of Ticketleap, who also started his company on the side for a few years before doing it full-time. Other entrepreneurs I count as mentors are Jeremy Bloom, CEO of Integrate and Matthew Safaii, founder of Quewey.

VCs. Do not just go to VCs when you are raising money. VCs are passionate about entrepreneurship and are usually happy to give feedback and advice. However, their time is also valuable so make sure you have a well thought-out idea before reaching out.

Friends and Family. Just like VCs, do not go to them just to raise money but also for feedback. Think about your friends who have started or currently help run a small business.

What are the milestones?

As mentioned earlier, one needs to set metrics especially if you are looking to do this full-time. More importantly, you also need smaller milestones so you can have your small wins. I say this because it takes tenacity to go down this road.

My own journey started the last year of my MBA program. After over a year and two outsourced development teams, we have finally launched Penny & Mary, a platform that uses principles in business to solve the pain points in wedding planning. We have also launched a sister site ask wedding planning, which is the Quora for weddings.

Thinking through the points I’ve described has helped us persevere and achieve the milestones we have set for ourselves.

If you have taken a path similar mine or are considering it, I would love to hear from you.

Editor’s note: Got a question for our guest blogger? Leave a message in the comments below.

About the guest blogger: Carmen Feliciano is a Co-Founder of Penny & Mary. She is a recent Wharton MBA working in business development. She is also cofounder of Penny and Mary- a wedding planning platform that applies principles in business to the wedding planning process to make it more efficient for brides, wedding planners, and wedding vendors. The sister site ask wedding planning is a Q&A site for weddings.