Here's Why Keeping Your Day Job Can Actually Help You Get Your Dream Job

April 27th 2017

Danielle DeCourcey

You've had enough.

You're tired of the daily tasks your job requires, and you don't want to sit behind a desk at someone else's company anymore.

You've decided that it's time to pursue your dreams and start your own business. So naturally your first step should be to quit your day job and focus all your attention on your new venture, right?

Maybe not.

Before you make the decision to quit your day job and jump into your dream job there's some things you should know. A 2013 study by University of Wisconsin researchers found that entrepreneurs are less likely to fail at their businesses if they exit their day jobs in stages, rather than quitting altogether at once. Joseph Raffiee and Jie Feng found that "hybrid entrepreneurs," people who are in "the process of initiating a business while simultaneously remaining employed for wages," are 33 percent less likely to fail in their entrepreneurial ventures.

Why would dividing your attention and time make a new business more successful?

  • There is less financial risk.
  • Hybrid entrepreneurs have more opportunity to gather information about their business before committing to it fully.

"... [O]ur findings suggest that, given the uncertainty associated with new businesses, entrepreneurs are best served by making small initial commitments early on, giving themselves the option to commit fully to their business after they have had a chance to accumulate information and assess its potential/prospects," the authors wrote. 

The researchers cited a successful example of this approach in Steve Wozniak, who initially maintained his position at Hewlett Packard while working with Steve Jobs to create a new company.

Steve Wozniak, a co-founder of Apple, in June 2005.

Their venture eventually became Apple.

The admittedly risk-averse Wozniak advised Georgia State University students in 2013 to do their own projects in their spare time to build their skills.

"If you try to do a bunch of projects for yourself, you develop skills that are so good, it'll put you up in the cream of the crop, and any company will want you based on these skills," he reportedly said.

Raffiee and Feng wrote that technology and social media has made hybrid entrepreneurship more viable, allowing more people to approach a new start-up this way.

"For example, instead of opening a brick-and-mortar location, hybrid entrepreneurs can use online marketplaces such as eBay (coincidentally, started by a hybrid entrepreneur) in their spare time," the authors wrote. "Likewise, advancements in social media marketing tools offer low-cost and efficient ways to reach target consumers."

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