Entrepreneurship

Hybrid entrepreneurship - 5 reasons to build a venture while still working 

The images shows a woman working on her laptop in her art studio depicting the possibilities of hybrid entrepreneurship

Hybrid entrepreneurship means not giving up the day job straight away. Image: Photo by bruce mars on Unsplash

Patricia Russ
Founder and CEO, Ovini Berlin
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Entrepreneurship

  • Some of the world's most successful entrepreneurs launched their businesses without leaving their day jobs.
  • Hybrid entrepreneurship hedges the risk of a startup failure and leaves entrepreneurs with steady jobs to fall back on.
  • Learn about the five freedoms that come with building a venture while employed and why you should consider doing this.

What do Steve Wozniak, Henry Ford and Sarah Blakely have in common? They built some of the most successful businesses of all time – Apple, Ford and Spanx – all while working a 9-5 job.

We know that entrepreneurship is a good thing. Entrepreneurs create jobs, drive innovation and spur economic growth. Entrepreneurial individuals greatly grow their skillset, mindset and professional networks and hope to expand their bank accounts too.

Yet, the majority of people are unwilling to quit their stable jobs to pursue a risky venture. You can’t blame them - 9/10 startups fail and we all have bills to pay. The rise of remote work and more flexible working conditions, however, has also enabled a new generation of entrepreneurs. I am building my health and wellness startup, Ovini, while I am employed full-time at a large corporation. This makes me a hybrid entrepreneur. I’m part of an ever-increasing group of employees who are starting their own businesses without sacrificing steady paychecks.

Hybrid-entrepreneurs - famous examples
Hybrid-entrepreneurs - famous examples Image: University of Marburg, Seminar on Hybrid Entrepreneurship, 2022

One obvious reason to work nights and weekends to build a business is that hybrid entrepreneurship hedges the risk of the startup failing and leaves entrepreneurs with steady jobs to fall back on. I argue, however, that hybrid entrepreneurship goes way beyond that: working on a venture on top of a corporate career provides amazing freedom. Here, I outline the five freedoms that come with building a venture while employed and why you should consider doing the same.

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1) The freedom to develop skills a day job can’t provide

Working on your own business allows you to level up and exponentially increase your skills and experiences in any way you like. From developing and launching your own product line to setting up a platform to coach others - there is no limit.

A side startup can even be a great way to accelerate a corporate career. My friend Brendan is building a robo-advisor app while working in a 9-5 job. He says one of his main drivers is to “learn new skills, which I might need in my professional future, and which my current day job can’t provide.”

This ranges from being a CEO and leading a team to developing a product from scratch, running online ads, connecting with and speaking to investors, negotiating equity with your team and more.

2) The freedom to realise a passion and build something you believe in

So many people are extremely passionate about something that has nothing to do with their day job. Being a hybrid entrepreneur gives you the option to build a business out of this passion.

Another friend, Jana, spends nights and weekends as a life coach, helping others to lose weight and reach their goals, all while working on M&A transactions by day. A university friend, Sonia, is building an online supplement empire, while employed in a private equity fund. Another friend working in tech, started a now vastly popular podcast as her creative outlet and a colleague organizes tennis retreats, another built an e-commerce store for dog accessories - all without leaving the day job.

There are no limits to the nature of these ventures and people derive a level of fulfilment from them that their daily work can’t provide. Some people I know plan on quitting their main jobs once the startup grows and others plan on being hybrid forever - there is no one-size-fits-all, but the sky's the limit.

3) The freedom to explore, research and test without financial pressure

Not quitting a job immediately can also translate into greater business success. A study of 5,000 entrepreneurs shows that hybrid entrepreneurs were 33.3% less likely to fail than those who left their jobs. A steady source of income, such as a salary, takes financial pressure off your startup and allows you to take more risky decisions. Yes, your time is limited, but that also means that you are forced to outsource and hire experts faster than when bootstrapping and doing everything yourself.

4) Providing financial freedoms

Who does not dream of having multiple sources of income, some of which are independent of an employer, time zones and geography? With a recession looming, jobs are ever evolving and job security might well be a thing of the past. A side venture can provide the extra source of income you need to add to your financial security, to pay off debt, as a cushion for rainy days or simply to elevate your lifestyle.

5) Fun, networking and opportunities

Working on Ovini has been a journey, but first and foremost it has been incredibly enriching and fun for me. I meet and work with fabulous and interesting people, some of whom have become dear friends. I was lucky to raise funds from an angel syndicate early on and going through the fundraising process taught me more than years of studying it. I grew tremendously as a person and last, but not least, I got new professional opportunities.

I can only encourage everyone who is playing with the idea of starting something to just do it! Only - don’t quit your job just yet.

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