Are you over your day job and excited about the business you’re starting up? It’s so tempting to start telling your closest confidants at work about your business. You’re friends after all, and can trust them right?
Before you do anything or open up to anyone, it’s vital that you clue yourself up on the legalities of running a business alongside your day job.
Following these steps will not only ensure you’re able to start the business you want to, but will mean you can confidently talk about your side hustle without getting fired…
DO: Check your employment contract
If you haven’t looked at it since joining your current employer, the first thing you must do is dust off your contract and look for any clauses which would prevent you moonlighting or that could jeopardise the legality of your new business.
Common clauses or restrictive covenants to pay attention to include:
- Non-compete clause:
These are usually in place to prevent you from setting up a competing business whilst employed, or for a set period of time (or even geographical area) after you leave your job. If you’ve signed your contract you must abide by these covenants.
- Intellectual Property and Copyright
Some employers believe they have full claim to any ideas or inventions you create whilst employed by them. This usually depends on whether they were part of your normal assigned duties but if your business idea is related to your employed work, seek legal advice before doing anything else.
If you’re unsure about any contractual agreements, seek sound legal advice before doing anything related to your new business.
DON’T: Work on your side hustle at work
As tempting as it is to do a bit of quick business research or emailing during your coffee break or between meetings, resist the temptation. If you were found out, you could be dismissed or sued for breaking your contract. It’s just not worth the risk, so take steps to protect your new business and work on it out of hours only, on your own equipment.
DO: Consider seeking advice or permission from HR
If your contract states that you must get permission before embarking on any dual work or work that could impact your role, reach out to HR for advice and/or permission to embark on your side hustle. Not doing so could be seriously problematic in the future.
So, you’re all clued up on your contractual obligations in relation to your side hustle, you’re adhering to them and only working on it outside of your contracted hours… how do you talk about it at work?
Well, it depends on the relationship you have to the person or people you want to disclose it to, and what you have to gain or lose by disclosing your news to them.
1. Your Boss
If you have an open and honest relationship with your boss, know you’re doing your job to the best of your ability and feel it would be beneficial for you to disclose your out of hours activity, then schedule a private 121 to disclose it to them.
We recommend you let your manager know:
- That you’ve taken legal advice and/or spoken to HR and followed company procedure.
- That you won’t let your side hustle impact negatively on your work.
- What your exit plans are (if you have any) and that you’re open to discussing them ongoing.
2. Your close work friends
Most people have at least one close friend at work who they confide in when they’re having a bad day or need to vent.
- you can fully trust them to keep a secret
- they’d having nothing to gain from “grassing” on you
- you know they’d be happy for you…
… then feel free to tell them!
Do it outside of the work environment and it’s best to make it clear you’re telling them in confidence. Be clear about who you’re happy knowing, and who you’d rather didn’t.
3. Your direct lines
If you manage any team members, think carefully about whether you should disclose your plans to them. Your duty is to support them in their role and if your news doesn’t do that, it may be best to keep it to yourself and avoid unsettling or worrying them.
4. Other colleagues
You might be tempted to let slip to colleagues whilst making a cuppa in the communal kitchen about your side hustle. Before you do, think about their reaction and whether telling them could come back around and bite you in the behind. They may be a lot less discreet than your close work friends, as, let’s face it, a lot of people love a bit of office gossip. Plus, if for any reason your side-hustle doesn’t work out or you change your mind, do you want to have to explain that to people you don’t really know well?
Whoever you tell about your side-hustle, make sure they are people who will celebrate and support you. You don’t need naysayers planting any seeds of doubt whilst you bring your idea to fruition.
And finally, once you’ve met your contractual obligations, do what feels right for you. If that means telling lots of people, a handful of people, or no one, that’s your prerogative.
Disclaimer – If you are in any doubt about any contractual agreements, please seek legal counsel.