Concerned about your job security? Looking for ways to supplement your income? You aren’t alone. As a result, more and more working Americans are moonlighting by starting part-time businesses as a way to improve their financial well-being or to provide a safety net in case of a job loss. But what if you get caught by your current employer? Could your current job be at risk?
Quite simply, the answer is “Yes.” It depends on the type of business you decide to start and your current employer’s policies regarding moonlighting. So before you get started here are some things to consider.
* Check your employee handbook. Before you start a side business, check your employee handbook to make sure your current employer doesn’t prohibit moonlighting. I also recommend checking with some of your colleagues who have been with the company for a while. Sometimes there are informal rules of which you may not be aware. So ask around.
* Honesty is the best policy. Never try to hide your part-time business from your employer. Being secretive about your part-time efforts may cause your employer to become suspicious about you. Being open and honest upfront can limit problems in the future.
* Don’t compete. Never start a business that competes with your current employer. And it should go without saying, but don’t align your outside venture with your employer’s competitor. Directly competing with your employer and/or working with a competitor not only could get you fired, but might also create additional exposure to other claims of stealing trade secrets or proprietary information.
* Don’t utilize company time or resources. As harmless as it may seem to make a few copies at work for your business or send a fax, don’t do it. When you are at your full-time job, stay focused on the work you do there. Don’t be tempted to make a phone call or send a quick email. You are being paid to work for your employer. And utilizing company time and/or resources is a big “no.”
* Be careful about email. Did you know businesses can legally monitor their employee’s emails? So don’t make the mistake of using the company’s email system for your personal business endeavor. It is for your employer’s business use only.
* Monitor your job performance. Don’t let your job performance slip at your full-time job. By adding additional work hours for your part-time business to your day, you are increasing your workload and stress level. Make sure you continue to produce results at your full-time job. Otherwise, you may find yourself without a regular paycheck.
* Illegal Activity. This should be obvious, but nonetheless I think it is necessary to point it out. Never participate in illegal activity as an outside business venture. Not only could it get you in trouble with law-enforcement, but it may also result in immediate termination.
* Have a Plan B in place. Even if you do everything right, there is always the risk your employer may decide it isn’t working and release you from your employment. Make sure you have considered that option and have a plan B in place.