By day, John Dintaman is an office coordinator, providing field support for a silo distributor in New Paris, Ohio. By night, he's a small-business...

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By day, John Dintaman is an office coordinator, providing field support for a silo distributor in New Paris, Ohio.

By night, he’s a small-business owner, crunching numbers to help other small companies manage their finances.

He leads the double life that many small-business owners choose — working a day job and then starting up a new company at night.

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“It’s constant juggling,” Dintaman said.

Quitting a day job for an unproven venture is risky.

But making a new business successful may take more time and energy than a person working full time elsewhere has to offer.

Mike Cornetet started Moonlight Multimedia, a print and Web design company, last year and named it for the hours he spends working on it.

He knows his company would do better if he had more time for it.

“But the bills don’t wait,” he said.

Michael Ashcraft, director of the Greater Louisville Small Business Development Center, said there’s no easy answer to the question about working two jobs.

Erring on the side of caution and continuing to work can be good, he said, because new owners can get a feel for whether their businesses are going to be successful and satisfying before they take the leap.

But “it’s very hard for someone to do this for any length of time,” he said.

What to tell employer

Those who choose to work while starting their business have to make some tough decisions about telling their employers and what to say to clients.

When Bill Radcliff was starting his company, Kentuckiana Mobile Oil Change, he was worried about how to approach the subject with his employer.

He wanted to keep his job at Dages Paint, at least for a while.

It turned out that Radcliff, whose business offers oil changes at clients’ homes and offices, had nothing to worry about.

The owners of Dages said he could work as much or as little as he needed, Radcliff said, explaining that he works every morning and does oil changes in the afternoon.

Split time works out

The agreement has worked out nicely for Radcliff, who didn’t get as much business as he expected from his initial advertising.

He’s still working 30 hours a week at Dages.

But many new business owners don’t have it as easy, said Mark Crane, head of Greater Louisville Inc.’s Enterprise Corp., which helps fast-growth startups.

He said some employers could disapprove of the new venture because it could take away from an employee’s efforts at their day job.

It’s important to talk with an employer at the right time, he said.

Often an employee can work on a business plan and get ready to start up without having to disclose it.

But when a person actually starts a company, the boss probably needs to know.

On the flip side, Crane said he sees too many business owners drop their current jobs too soon.

He recommends that new owners not leave their current job until fully understanding the financial repercussions.

There must be enough money to support the owner and the business for the first two years.

He offers some indicators on how to know if it’s time to go.

“Clearly you have waited too late to leave your employer when you find yourself spending the best energy of the day on your new venture,” he said.

Let clients know, too

In addition to handling the situation with employers, new business owners also have to decide what to tell clients.

Ashcraft said some clients might be more understanding if they know the owner’s circumstances.

But there’s always the concern that clients won’t think the business is legitimate.

“If you’re considering a new business along the same lines as the one you’re doing, and you’re going to your current clients to get business, that’s a real no-no,” he said.