Starting a Business While You Have a Job

A few weeks ago Barbara Corcoran (TV Personality on “Shark Tank”) published a LinkedIn Blog on How to Start Your Own Business on The Side. It’s not much of a “how to,” but she does relay some interesting stories about businesses she has invested in that were started on the side.

We work with a lot of entrepreneurs and, unless you have investors, we echo Corcoran’s mantra of testing your idea while you have an income. But, Corcoran’s post got me thinking about all the potential issues that come with being an employee and an entrepreneur at the same time. If you want to maintain your income while launching a business keep these things in mind:

1. Your employer does not care about your business. It cares about its business only. Do not talk about your business at work (unless, of course, your employer/boss is investing in the business).

2. Don’t solicit clients, vendors or employees to help with your side business. Everything about your business should remain separate from your employer’s business.

3. Review every document and agreement that you have signed that could oblige you to your employer (especially if your new business involves a product that relates to your current job or industry). Many employers make employees sign intellectual property agreements that could put IP rights into question. Some employment agreements even require that you dedicate all of your working attention to your employment.

4. Do not work on your business while at your place of employment. Don’t use your work computer for your side business. Don’t even use the copy machine. Many businesses track use of equipment. And, even if they don’t, your colleagues could raise an issue. In addition, using your employer’s equipment is another way to put your new business’ IP at risk.

5. Really, do not talk about or work on your business at your place of employment.

Most new businesses fail within the first year. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take a risk and try to launch. But, it does mean that you should be cautious if you want to maintain a job while trying.