Working full time doesn’t have to mean giving up on your entrepreneurial dreams. In fact, starting a business while working full time is a great way to test the waters of entrepreneurship and gradually grow your startup into a full-time business.

You may need to keep your day job while you prepare your new business venture for success, but with the right preparation your business ownership dreams can come true. 

Recently, The UPS Store did a survey of small business owners and people dreaming of becoming business owners. The survey revealed 55 percent of current small business owners felt prepared when they were first starting their business. And more than 50 percent of current small business owners say they were actually better prepared to start their business than they thought they were. This shows there is a large window for improvement in the small business preparation area!

Preparation and planning are vital to starting your new business off on the right foot. This is especially important if you plan to work a full-time job while you get your business started. Many people work full-time in order to keep a steady paycheck coming until their new business venture is up and running. And working may help you network, build a potential client base, further develop business skills or even learn more about the business you want to open while you work in that same industry.

The top three areas small business owners would have liked to have been better prepared in are branding/marketing, management of finances and time management. These are all areas where expertise can be gained from SCORE, from your mentor, and from other free resources.

Beyond preparation, it’s also important to understand how critical experience is – yours and learning from others’ experiences.  Learning from experience is the reason you need mentors. Mentors have different viewpoints and experiences that can help push you in the right direction. They, too, may have been challenged with working full-time while they started their businesses and understand how to work through the fears small business owners face. They can share their mistakes and may save you from the same errors. According to our survey, 82 percent of respondents who had a mentor while starting their business found mentorship very influential in helping them through the process. Furthermore, approximately one-third of those who did not have a mentor while they started their business wish they would have had one.

SCORE can help you find a mentor. If you are just dipping your toe in the water and not ready to find a mentor yet, join an online community. Connecting with others is the easiest way to learn more and hone your skills. 

Small business owners often find it difficult to improve efficiency and productivity because you’re busy with the day-to-day tasks of running your business. You wear a lot of hats – oftentimes, you’re not just the restaurant owner, but you’re the cook, the server, the bookkeeper and even the cleaning crew. Mentors can help you think through options for partnering with outside resources to help make your day-to-day life easier.

Under mentors, you have the ability to learn from their life experiences, both in and out of the workplace. I have my mentors to thank for teaching me how to work smarter and accomplish more.