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Would you rather go full-time on your startup or while freelancing 10-20/week?


#1

If you have a choice of say working full-time on your startup for 6-9 months, or freelancing on the side for 10-20 hours/week in order for you to stretch your runway to 18 months which would you prefer?

Let’s also assume that you currently haven’t launched your application and as a result don’t have any paying customers as of yet either (in case it matters).

Context switching is always a problem, and you then also have a fall-back and might get to comfortable and that sense of urgency might work against you.


#2

I’m a cautious man, with twins under two years old… but I’d do the freelancing. It lets you survive any bumps in the road, and keeps your skills sharp (presuming you’re coding for a living).

Also get used to context-switching: small businesses are nothing but trying to do a million things at once!

Depending on what you’re building it also gives you time to sell (in advance) to potential customers. Without knowing your product, I don’t know what the typical sales cycle is… but it’s nice to have some leeway if your customers might take time to buy.


#3

I agree with @andycroll - It’s a long game for me. I prefer a stable foundation (part-time consulting) & a longer runway. I have 2 young kids too, and that’s certainly part of it.


#4

I don’t think this is really a choice any longer. Since most people will be building SaaS, it extremely unlikely you’ll be able to make enough to live off of in just a few months (say you work on it for 6 months and have 2-3 months where it’s for sale).

Even “large” sales for most SaaS apps will be $300-$600/month at the top and most people at launch don’t even have large plans like that (though you probably should). Plus you probably have at least a 14 day trial, maybe more which also eats into your 2-3 months of time before you have to go back to work.

So it’s very hard to build up enough monthly dough to make that work.


#5

That’s very true with Saas, the sales/revenue is a slow snowball effect :smile:

Once it is launched and you start to get paying subscribers, I have read that it isn’t uncommon to hit about 100K in about 1 year.

The ideal situation then would be if you have some sort of a combination:

  1. Passive income of a few grand
  2. consulting
  3. slowly easing in the SaaS revenue

#6

In my experience it’s not really possible to find part time freelancing gigs. At least for me there is no shortage of 12 month full time projects but part time? No sir…


#7

Who says 20hrs/week is part-time? That’s practically all the creative & productive hours I have to bill each week. You can also move towards weekly-billing or fixed-price or productised consulting to move away from the “you’re only working 20hrs a week?!” reaction. Personally, I just sell it as a benefit to the client: “you’re only getting my best 20hrs / week, when I’m refreshed, ready, energised and creative”


#8

I am going to go against popular opinion on this and say go all in - go full time.

Keeping an eye on your rapidly shrinking bank balance whilst having no other distractions should be a recipe for great focus, hard work and shipping within the constraints you have.

If you get to the point where you are running out of cash then you can freelance to keep afloat. Or you may have decided that your idea isn’t going to work out - in which case you know in 9 months rather than 18.


#9

That sounds more like on-site contract work that freelancing. Freelancing is generally shorter term work.


#11

Watching your bank balance shrink is a pretty huge distraction. :wink:


#12

Save some money. Then start working on customer acquisition, even before creating the startup (maybe a small prototype). Test your project with real customers, and if it works, then go full time.

I agree with @Rhino, it’s better not to have other distractions and focus on your project. Freelancing makes it a little bit easier but it’s a big time-energy consumer.


#13

Another vote for freelance. Diversifying your revenue streams is good, especially if you can use the revenue from one stream to fund experiments in others. Don’t assume this startup is “the one”, especially if you don’t have paying customers yet - you might have to go through a few startups / products before you find one that’s a hit.

In theory a dwindling bank account will light a fire beneath you, but it may just induce anxiety & self-doubt instead, which makes it more difficult to grow a business. And if you go back to freelancing, it’s best not to do it because you have to, clients can sense desperation. You still want to be able to pick & choose the clients you take on.


#14

I’d say it depends on the consequences of “failure”, i.e. running out of money without enough SaaS revenue to support yourself.

If you’re single with no dependents and you go all in and you run out of money, big deal. You won’t die.

If you have a wife and kids who depend on your income to pay for their whole lives and you go all in and you run out of money, that’s a totally different story.

My situation is the latter. I divide my time between freelancing and building my SaaS. It’s often easy to get confused about which one is more important to work on at any particular time. (In my off hours, should I work on my SaaS or work on marketing myself as a freelancer?) If I had been into the whole micropreneur thing when I was single, I think I would have gone all in. Now I wouldn’t.


#15

I get so jealous of people who don’t have a wife and kids to support while bootstrapping. It feels like it would be an absolute piece of cake without that additional pressure.

Then again, they’re also my reason for living and give me more motivation than I probably had when I was single.

What are you gonna do :slight_smile:


#16

I’ve been working on my business for a couple of years now. I’ve been full time on it with about 1-2 months full time consulting every 6 months or so.

I’ve been very lucky that I’ve had a past employer call me up and ask me to do short term projects roughly twice a year, and this has been enough to keep the wolves from the door. I’m also lucky in that my partner finished her PHD before I quit my job and is now earning, so we can more or less get by on her salary.

This wasn’t planned, and involved a lot of luck, so I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it. That said, being able to focus full time on the business, and then switch to consulting to recharge the bank account (and enthusiasm for the business) has been great.