By Bruce Freeman
The Small Business Professor.
Economic uncertainty is inspiring many people to look for ways to supplement their income. For people that already have full-time jobs, launching a new business can raise a lot of questions about avoiding conflicts or irking the boss. This question, submitted by an editor friend, addresses how you can juggle both jobs.
QUESTION: I recently launched a side business on top of my full-time job, and I’m worried about the ethical and legal issues that might pose a conflict with my day job. How can I build my new business without putting my primary one in jeopardy?
ANSWER: The answer depends largely on the kind of work you do during the day, and whether or not your boss is likely to have a problem with your side business. If your new venture is completely unrelated to your day job, perhaps you’re launching a bed and breakfast and you spend your days in financial services, then you probably don’t have too much to worry about, as long as you still give your day job your full attention while you’re at work. You might even be discreet about your extracurricular activities, at least at first, to avoid unnecessarily alarming your boss.
Of course, if you work for a company that looks down on outside activities, then you’ll want to think carefully about how to avoid conflicts of interest, and perhaps even hash out the details with your manager. Many people can successfully make the case that launching a side business can help them in their day job, and that will really put your boss’s mind at ease, says Kimberly Palmer, author of “The Economy of You: Discover Your Inner Entrepreneur and Recession-Proof Your Life,” and senior money editor at U.S. News & World Report.
That’s because in many cases, employers see the upside of having such enterprising employees, Palmer says. Employees who moonlight as entrepreneurs learn new skills on their own time, which make them more valuable employees. An employee who sells jewelry online is learning about e-commerce and marketing; one who offers career coaching services on the weekends is perfecting her interpersonal and human resources skills.
Finding a way to not only alleviate any concerns your supervisor might have about conflicts but also to show just how your new side-business can actually help make you a more productive and valuable employee will help you gain the support of your boss. And that’s a useful ally to have, both in your primary job and your side-business.
In today’s social media-frenzied world, it’s hard to keep too many secrets. If you launch a new jewelry business, your boss might notice if you share the news on Facebook, for example. As long as you can assure him that your new venture is making you a more valuable employee and not taking you away from your primary responsibility, then you have little to worry about.
ABOUT THE WRITER
Bruce Freeman, a small business consultant, is adjunct professor of entrepreneurship at Seton Hall and Kean universities. He also is co-author of “Birthing the Elephant: The Woman’s Go-For-It Guide to Overcoming the Big Challenges of Launching a Business.”