Young Upstarts

All about entrepreneurship, intrapreneurship, ideas, innovation, and small business.

Why Entrepreneurs Should Have A Career Backup Plan

Most entrepreneurs take pride in making their business their primary focus; they’re willing to work long into nights and weekends, sacrificing their hobbies and, in some cases, their personal lives for the chance at becoming successful.

While this is an admirable display of commitment and diligence, and one that’s led to the emergence of many billionaires, it’s not always the best investment of your time. Instead, it’s a good idea to invest at least a portion of your time every week to creating and nurturing a career backup plan.

How to Create a Backup Strategy.

So what does it mean to have a career backup plan? What do you need to have in place?

There’s no one right answer, but there are several options available to you:

Licensing and certifications. First, you could explore the option of getting licensed or certified in another professional. For example, you could get your real estate license so you can buy and sell homes, or get certified as a massage therapist. The advantage here is that your certification will all but guarantee you a job in a field with suitable demand, but the disadvantage is the time and money it will likely take to get it.

Training and practice. If your secondary career path doesn’t require licensure or certification, you could consider getting training or practice in the field. For example, you could shadow a personal trainer, or volunteer as a bartender for private events. If you’re willing to help out and start from the bottom, most places will be willing to help you cut your teeth.

You can also increase your range of career options just by networking. Get out once a week and meet new people to add to your rolodex. You’ll be glad those contacts are there when you get back into the field—after all, 85 percent of jobs are filled via referrals and networking.

Personal branding. Investing time in your personal brand can be beneficial for your current business, but it will also help you expand your future career possibilities. With enough followers or a big enough reputation in your current city, you might get job offers even while working for your current business. The downside here is that it also takes significant time and effort to build your personal brand; you’ll need to produce new content, reach out to new followers, and engage with your community consistently.

You can also hedge your bets by investing in things like stocks, bonds, index funds, or real estate. As long as you have a bit of capital to work with and you plan your moves strategically, you should be able to see a strong, consistent return.

The Motivations.

So why would you invest time in these options when you’re so focused on making your core business succeed?

A safety net for failure. It’s tempting to think your business has a better shot than most, but it’s important to be realistic. About half of all businesses fail within the first five years of their operations. Planning for a secondary career is a way to make sure you hit the ground running, just in case your primary plan doesn’t pan out.

Income diversification. In the meantime, you can use your new skills and contacts as a way to diversify your income. If you’re generating revenue from multiple sources, you’ll be far less likely to suffer when one source of income dries up. It will also help you build wealth faster, and give you a pocket of capital you can reinvest in the business if times are tough.

Burnout prevention. No matter how passionate you are about your business, working so many hours in the same industry can get tedious and stressful. Diversifying your skillset and developing yourself in different ways can stave off the threat of entrepreneurial burnout.

Networking opportunities. Networking isn’t just about building up a network of contacts for job opportunities. It’s also a valuable way to find new potential business partners, mentors, or even employees of your own. Because of this, any efforts you make to build a secondary career can pay off in other ways for your main business.

Personal growth. Building up a new skillset is also an avenue for personal growth. You’ll meet new people, learn new things, and feel more satisfied with your life because of it.

You don’t have to dedicate another 40 hours a week to building another career, nor do you have to sacrifice the attention you’re already paying to your main startup. Instead, spend an extra hour or two a week building up your skillset or looking for opportunities in other areas. In the worst-case scenario, you’ll be glad you did.


Young Upstarts is a business and technology blog that champions new ideas, innovation and entrepreneurship. It focuses on highlighting young people and small businesses, celebrating their vision and role in changing the world with their ideas, products and services.

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