Starting your own side business is exciting, and you want to throw all your effort into it. The thing is, you need to find the balance between getting things done for your personal business while maintaining integrity at your job. It’s essential to take some proactive steps so you can manage both successfully. You are probably passionate about your side hustle, meaning that it is frequently on your mind.
However, since it is unlikely to provide a living income at least at the start, you should respect the job you have and prioritize it when you are at work. Your side business may come with risks, which is why you decided not to leave your job in the first place. Not keeping a clear division between it and your current job could get you into legal trouble. We’ll explain more.
Don’t Ignore Your Employment Obligations
There are moral and legal issues when it comes to ignoring employment obligations. You likely signed an employment agreement when you started your job, meaning you have legal obligations to your employer. Frequently these include restrictions on conducting outside interests while you’re on the clock. The contract will be clear on what you are and are not allowed to do while at your place of employment. These restrictions can include a duty of loyalty, confidentiality, and intellectual property. Let’s dig deeper into these.
- Duty of Loyalty
Many employee contracts or general agreements include a duty of loyalty. This will state that you are prohibited from competing with your employer while you work for them. If your side business is related to the company you work for, this could either get you fired and/or put you in legal trouble.
- Confidential Information
While you’re working for your employer, you may have access to confidential information. This should never be shared or used for your own business. Again, this could put you in serious legal trouble.
- Intellectual Property
In some industries, any intellectual property created while you work for a company belongs to the company. You’ll want to be cautious about any inventions or written material you create as a side business. It may be acceptable if your idea is separate from the company’s vision or outside the scope of the industry. Still, when you look to monetize or exploit an invention related to your job, you’re at risk of stealing intellectual property.
Don’t Use Assets at Your Job to Build Your Business
You should never use assets from your job to build your business, including laptops, copiers, printers, reams of paper, or other tools, including software applications. The company computer is for company use only, and you shouldn’t be using it for your personal business. Employers have the right to track the use of company devices, including phones. It would be relatively easy for your employer to tell if you were using your phone outside of business hours or for your own personal use.
Do Not Use Your Business Email to Conduct Personal Correspondence
You can easily be caught, and it risks your current employment, your personal business and could impact your employer. Create a separate email for your side business. This is less work than trying to transport them to your side business email later. You’ll want to have complete control over your email address, so it’s best to establish your own from the start.
Don’t Work Your Side Business on Company Time
It’s in bad taste to use business hours for conducting personal business while charging your side business. Many of us are working remotely, which gives us more flexibility. However, working on side projects before your paid work is complete could be risky. Employers expect you to complete your work for them during certain hours. Working your side business when on the company time can lead to repercussions like losing your job or being sued by your employer.
Do: Build an Advisory Team
As a business owner, you’ll need to make informed decisions. You can’t know everything you need to, but you can build an advisory team that will help fill in the blanks. They can guide you in making the best decisions for your business. One of the first steps you can take is getting a bank account specifically for your business. This will introduce you to a business advisor where you bank. Seeking the advice of a business lawyer helps you avoid trouble with your employer. They can identify and minimize risks while protecting your interests. Additionally, an accountant can help set up bookkeeping and answer any questions on taxes. By investing in a team of people to advise you on your side business, you will reduce the possibility of crossing the line with your employer.
Still don’t know what side hustle to start? Read our article on the 50 side hustles and side businesses that work