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Minimum Viable Employment: How to use low stress jobs to bootstrap your business

After a stressful 9-hour shift at your “non low stress job”, and an almost as long but equally stressful commute home, you make it to the table in time for dinner (barely).

Post dinner, with a belly full of food and a mind racing with thoughts about the work you left unfinished at your office, you realize now is the only free time you have to work on your side hustle.  

You’re struck with guilt.  

As much as you love the project you’re working on, and as much as you dream to have it become MORE than just a hustle one day… tonight you’re tired.

You’ve been going since 6:30 am and your brain and body just wants to Netflix-n’-chill.

But…isn’t hustle and extra hours what it takes to “make it” in building your biz?  

There are certainly enough quotes plastered all over the internet reinforcing this idea:

“I’d rather hustle 24/7 than slave away at 9-5”

“Keep grinding, stay hustling, never say never”

“Invest in your dreams.  Grind NOW. Shine LATER”

– Grindy McHustleson
Director of Candle Burning | Both Ends Division | Sleep When Dead Inc.

So, is it hustle or nothing?

Not necessarily.  

It IS possible to manage your energy with low stress jobs and create a business you love without burning yourself out in the process.

Introducing Minimum Viable Employment

When you choose Minimum Viable Employment, you purposely lighten your workload from your consistent (main) source of income.  Instead of cramming 40 hours of high stress work into your week and then trying to work on your biz on the side, you work less hours at low stress jobs that allow space for creativity and increased focus.

The best part?

You keep your electricity bill paid, food on the table, but create more time to build the biz of your dreams.

This example of entrepreneurial lifestyle design goes hand in hand with Minimum Viable Income.  If you’re curious about trying Minimum Viable Employment, this article on MVI is required reading.

Why You Should Consider Minimum Viable Employment

If you’re reading this article secretly from your work computer at your 9-5, if the idea of working late nights and weekends makes your stomach turn, here’s 5 reasons why you should consider MVE:

1.) Low stress jobs avoid burnout

The greatest risk facing the fledgling entrepreneur is burning out and quitting before you really see what your business can do.  If you find yourself struggling to keep the plates of your stress-filled and complicated life spinning, you can make a conscious decision to lighten your workload.

2. ) Enjoy life today, not in your perfect version of the future

We often make decisions that negatively affect our lives now, banking on it all paying off “someday” (not even tomorrow).  But “someday” isn’t a guarantee, and if you hate your life today, now’s the only time you can do something about it.

3. ) It’s not “all or nothing”

Minimum Viable Employment introduces a middle ground between grinding away at your full-time corporate job and expecting your new business to be financially stable NO MATTER WHAT.  Both of these kinds of pressure is stifles your creativity and hampers your ability to actually enjoy the work that you do.

4.) Surprise yourself with the opportunities

At Fizzle, we hear countless stories of successful entrepreneurs who took a half leap from their corporate careers and found incredible opportunities not possible if they were still at their 9-5s.  Networking, connections and apprenticeship-like positions abound in the online space. They’re just waiting for the right people to seize them.

5.) Embrace complexity

Stay in the same routine for too long, and get dragged down into a stagnant energy.  Leap into the unknown of entrepreneurship without the funds to survive, and your life might explode in chaos.  Again, MVE offers a sweet middle ground: You design your life in a way that feels exciting and new, and where your best work can flourish.

How to Pursue Minimum Viable Employment with Low Stress Jobs

How might MVE look in your unique life and situation?  Below I’ll introduce three examples.

The common thread is that they all break the status quo and encourage you to start looking at your life in a more creative and design-focused way.  This skill will serve you well in your entrepreneurial journey.

NOTE: There are different levels of perceived risk in each scenario, so there’s something here for everyone.  

1.) Ask Your Current Employer To Work Remotely

Our work environments are changing, and more employers see the value in allowing employees to work remotely.  Create a proposal for your boss to let them know what’s in it for them: lower overhead costs, increased productivity and job satisfaction from you, their star employee.

Tom Kuegler, the blogger behind Finding Tom, has an excellent article on this taking your current job remote.  

Just imagine how much time you can free up by removing your commute from your workday, even once a week.  This example is like entrepreneurial training wheels – you’ll need to manage your time effectively and prove you can get work done, even in your pajamas.

2.) Request Part-Time Hours At Your Current Job

You won’t get what you don’t ask for.  Many of us falsely believe that the current reality of our jobs is the only version possible.  But if you’re a great employee, you may be surprised at the lengths your employer will go to to keep you around and happy.

Fizzle’s CEO Corbett Barr used this strategy.

He approached his previous employer to reduce his hours to 20-30 a week. They agreed and he had a lighter workload for six months before he left to focus full-time on building his own business.

How much more work could you devote to your budding business idea if you had an extra 10-15 hours per week?

3.) Leave Your Full-Time Work For A Part-Time Bridge Job

With greatest risk, comes the greatest reward.  In this example, you leave the comfort and perceived security of your full-time work behind.  But you also get the most creative space and time to build that biz you’ve been dreaming of.

This was my path.

Stressed out, on call 24/7 and unable to leave my work at work – my previous job left little creative time for my entrepreneurial dreams.  I knew the only way I could build my business at jenrao.com was to simplify my life.  

So, I drastically reduced my Minimum Viable Income, worked part-time as a bartender while I built my website and within months joined Steph’s team at Courage and Clarity and now work for Fizzle too!

These opportunities would have gone to someone else if I refused to loosen my grip on my past job.  

If bartending isn’t your thing, there are many excellent ways to make easy money while you build your biz.  We have a whole podcast episode on this topic of gig economy jobs.

If your current work situation stands between you and the lifestyle business of your dreamsless sleep and more stress probably isn’t the answer.  Hustling hard is just one path on the way to success.

But if you’ve tried the grind and it’s just left you frustrated, low stress jobs are vaible other options.

You can design a life that supports your biz dreams rather than hinders them, it’s up to you to make it so.



The Top 10 Mistakes in Online Business

Every week we talk with entrepreneurs. We talk about what’s working and what isn’t. We talk about successes and failures. We spend time with complete newbies, seasoned veterans, and everything in between.

One topic that comes up over and over again with both groups is mistakes made in starting businesses. Newbies love to learn about mistakes so they can avoid them. Veterans love to talk about what they wish they had known when starting out.

These conversations have been fascinating, so we compiled a list of the 10 mistakes we hear most often into a nifty lil' guide.

Download the guide

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