Lots of people would like to start a business, but they feel like they’re too busy. Especially if you already have a full-time job, especially if you have a family, the idea of starting a business might seem like too big of an undertaking. You get home from work at 6 or 7 p.m. (or later), you’re tired, you have other demands on your time…how are you possibly going to start a business?

Here’s the thing: ultimately, “I already have a full-time job” is not a good excuse. If you want to start a business, if it’s really important to you, you can find the time to make it happen. In fact, having a full-time job doesn’t have to hold you back; it can actually be a significant advantage to you as you start your business.

I’m living proof of this – I worked late at night and on weekends for 1.5 years building up a base of freelance clients before I quit my day job. (I actually work shorter hours now than I did before I was full-time self-employed.)

Here’s why having a full-time job is a good thing if you want to start a business:

  • It gives you “startup capital.” It’s always better to have a paycheck coming in while you get your business off the ground. In time, your new business will grow to the point that it pays your expenses, but at first, you’re better off being able to rely on your day job to pay the bills while you dedicate yourself to starting the new business.
  • It gives you a welcome distraction. Starting a new business can be all-consuming. Having a day job helps you focus your efforts by limiting the amount of time you can spend working on the new business – you will probably work more efficiently on your new business if you’re limited to after-work hours and weekends. Often, we find a way to fit our work into the amount of available time.

If you’re going to start a business while you already have a full-time job, there are a few pointers to keep in mind:

  • Leave your day job on good terms. Don’t let your new business keep you from putting in an honest day’s work at your day job. Go out on a high note. Don’t get fired or burn bridges or let your work relationships deteriorate. Even though you’re excited about starting a business and moving on to bigger and better things, don’t allow your new venture to undermine the reputation you’ve built up at your day job. (In fact, you might be better off keeping your new business venture to yourself, until you’re ready to resign. Co-workers and supervisors don’t always react well to people who dare to escape from the corporate world.)
  • Forget about the “9-to-5,” and embrace the “5-to-9.” If you’re building a business while working a full-time job, you need to be prepared to get up early and stay up late. Gary Vaynerchuk, wine expert and social media guru, talks a lot about how people who want to start businesses need to work – no excuses. So if you get home from work at 6 p.m., you can spend some time with your family, eat some dinner, and then you have to go work hard from 9 p.m. to 2 a.m. It’s tough, but this is where the real entrepreneurs separate themselves from the wannabes. (Either that, or wake up at 4 or 5 a.m. and work for a few hours before you have to report to your day job.)

Working harder than you’ve ever worked before will be good training for full-time self-employment. People who are really motivated to start their own business will not let ANYTHING stand between them and their goals. You might be exhausted and sleep-deprived for a few months, or even a year – but you’ll be exhilarated by how much you’re learning and growing. And in the end, you’ll have the best reward of all – a successful business of your own, that enables you to leave you day job forever.