Running a business while employed: What you need to know

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Emmanuel Zvada

By Emmanuel Zvada
ESTABLISHING a balance between primary means of income and side hustle may prove to be more difficult than anticipated.

As the saying goes: “No man can serve two masters at the same time.”

It poses many legal, ethical, and technical issues. Being an entrepreneur is not for everyone though in actual fact you can reduce your risks substantially if you can start your business while still receiving a salary.

It is often a good idea to walk the thin line between maintaining your full-time job and preparing the foundation of your startup, although it will no doubt be challenging.

Putting off your dream business because you are already in steady employment can be one of the worst decisions you could ever make in life.

You will never know what you could do unless you try. In trying there maybe be failure but in continuously failing and not giving up successes will be realised one day.

Truth be told, to some there will never be a perfect time to quit your job but you can minimise your risks although it is almost impossible not to be distracted but you should not steal time from your present job to work on your business. If you are currently employed, starting a business while you are still working full-time is hard.

Below are a few tips to help you move in the right direction.

Do your research and choose the right business
Once you have decided to walk the entrepreneurial path, the next question to ask yourself is: What type of business do I want to start?

There are thousands of choices. Even things you might think are out of your reach may not be. A business that requires full-time involvement isn’t the best choice if you can only do it part-time.

Do your homework and understand the niche you are entering. In actual fact, these are the questions you have to ask before you venture into a startup, is it oversaturated?

How are you going to separate yourself from the competition? How are you going to fund the business etc? Figure out how to eloquently communicate the value you provide.

Don’t compete or cross paths with your employer
Don’t run a side company that is in direct competition with your employer. This creates a conflict of interest. If your side company competes with your employer, the only course of action to take is to resign.

However, there are some gray areas when it comes to competition.

It is not always easy to determine if your company is in direct competition with your employer, hence you need to seek legal advice to determine if you would have legal liability.

Make sure your startup is not an exact replica of the organisation you work for. In fact, it is better to have a business idea which is unrelated to your job. Also, never use your corporate computers or equipment to do work for your business and never do it during office hours.

Carefully read your employment contract
Many companies state that you cannot hold another job while working for them, so check your contract first. Many employment contracts either forbid you from working on something on the side and/or your employer can claim ownership of anything you start while working for them (sometimes even off company time).

However, because your employment contract includes these clauses it doesn’t necessarily mean the end of your entrepreneurial dreams.

You can negotiate with your employer to allow you to work on something on the side which is not related to your current job.

Make sure you are in compliance with your non-disclosure agreement and any other employment agreements that you have signed. Your employer won’t appreciate it if you become their direct competitor.

Be organised and separate your hustle from your full-time job
Being organised is the only way you will ever get things done. Structure your precious time well and you will find your productivity levels will soar.

Set realistic goals and stick to them. Working two jobs can be very tricky to juggle but you should ensure you make time for yourself, friends and family and have designated pockets of time where you aren’t working.

You need to make sure that you fully separate your job from your side hustle.

If you need to have meetings hold them outside working hours or take vacation.  Equally, walking out of the office to take personal phone calls will harm your credibility.

Remember, without your current job there will be no income, so you need to hold it dear and try not to get on the wrong side of your boss.

Don’t feel pressured to leave your job
Don’t feel pressured to leave your job especially in the early days when your hustle or business starts to gain traction.

You should know that new businesses go through life cycles, hence some early wins do not necessarily mean you have a sustainable enterprise.