Will starting a side hustle get you fired? Here's what you need to know.
Millions of employees work hard for the companies that hired them but hope to launch their own side businesses one day. Even though they may dream of nursing their side businesses into full-fledged commercial operations, for now they need to keep their day jobs.
Before launching a side business, it's important to remember that many employees who begin small projects end up getting fired thanks to their inability to attend to their primary responsibilities.
How do you start a side business without losing your primary employment? Here are some tips that can help you stop your side business from getting you fired.
1. Check your employment contract (if you signed one).
The first and most important consideration when checking if you can establish your own side business without getting fired is to determine if you signed an employment contract when you were hired. If you did, you'll want to read through it in its entirety to understand what limitations your current employer may have placed on you. Many companies prohibit their workers from launching side businesses, as they don't want your attention and creative energy to be used elsewhere, so failing to check your contract could end up costing you big time.
It's essential to understand how important these contracts can be. If you have indeed signed a contract guaranteeing that you won't start a side hustle or pledging not to compete in the same industry if you suddenly resign, you'll find it incredibly difficult to achieve your ambitions. Employees who have been boxed into a corner like this are encouraged to seek out legal expertise, as only a clever lawyer can help you after you've signed a contract which narrows your future opportunities and mitigates your ability to pursue them.
While you may not be explicitly banned from launching your own side business, your employer may fire you if they find that you're incapable of fulfilling your responsibilities because you're constantly worried about your side hustle. Similarly, conducting your side business on company grounds could legally give your original company rights to whatever product or services you created on their property and on their time, so be careful your hard work doesn't end up benefiting someone else.
2. Don't drop the ball at work.
Dropping the ball is a serious problem that entrepreneurs face when launching side businesses without sacrificing or endangering their current employment status. Dropping the ball can essentially be defined as paying so much attention to your new side hustle that you fail to fulfill the original work responsibilities you're expected to uphold. A boss or manager may never learn about your side business, but if you're coming in late after every lunch period or produce worse results as a consequence of your being preoccupied elsewhere, they might fire you all the same, and with good reason.
Even if your contract makes no mention of a side business, and even if you never signed a contract at all, you should still exercise caution when it comes to how you spend your time off company grounds. Employers who learn about your side business may not be legally entitled to fire you for that reason, but may still be angry enough to concoct another excuse to discharge you. If you review a list of hobbies that can earn you a paycheck, you may think they are harmless activities, but to an employer, they may represent a threat to their company's reputation or productivity and warrant your discharge.
It goes without saying that you should know your rights; if an employer improperly dismissed you, don't stand idly by and allow your rights to be trampled upon, even if you're launching a side hustle for yourself. Before you can embark on the expensive route of hiring a lawyer after being wronged, you should probably set some time aside to familiarize yourself with the process of wrongful termination and how to go about finding a good legal expert.
3. Know your schedule.
Another important thing to consider is how your side business may interfere with your schedule. Many people like to imagine that they have enough free time to turn their side hobby into a full-fledged business, but in many cases, side businesses take up more time and energy than you'd initially imagine, especially if you're running a business blog as well as handling sales. Overloading your schedule and failing to fulfill your primary responsibilities at work because you're too tired from your side hustle is a surefire way to end up fired and on the breadline.
If you're dedicated to starting a side business centered on your burning passion, it's worthwhile to read up on how to find time for the things you love even when you're otherwise hard-pressed for time. Rigorous scheduling, holding yourself accountable when deadlines are nearing, and asking others for help can all go a long way towards ensuring your side business doesn't gobble up too much of your time and lead your boss to let you go.
Take special steps to guarantee that you're not ignoring the family, friends and colleagues who enrich your life. These individuals are much more important than you may realize, and neglecting life-long relationships as you pursue what could be a short-sighted side hustle will ultimately leave you regretful. With the proper management techniques, you can handle both a personal life, day job and side hustle, but you'll need to be prepared to make adjustments and remain flexible at all times.
4. Know the risks.
It's also worthwhile to familiarize yourself with the risks that could arise from your running a side business. Sometimes, you may be eager to turn your hobby into a monetized profession only to discover that the liabilities associated with this new job could make it undesirable. The perils of the side business are no small thing to be brushed under the rug, but don't be disheartened as you learn about them. Rather, use it as an educational experience that will teach you what to expect when the going gets rough and you find yourself torn between your two separate jobs.
You should also know that some side gigs are far riskier than others. If your side business is solely your concern, for instance, you're much more likely to be able to run it on the side than you would be if you were hiring others to help you along the way. Once your current employer learns that you're employing others, they'll likely find that your loyalties are far too divided to keep you around. Thus, while it can be tantalizing to expand your side business, understand that doing so could seriously jeopardize your current financial security if your side hustle isn't yet lucrative enough to pay rent.
Reviewing a short but helpful guide on how to start a side business while working a full-time job can prepare you for the arduous yet fulfilling journey which is ahead of you. As you'll soon discover, many self-starters manage to juggle the responsibilities of a primary job and a side business without succumbing to the stress.