Tips to tell your boss about your side hustle (Sidegig Ep. 1.7)

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When you have your side hustle ready to go and you’ve got a plan, there are still some practicalities that have to be dealt with…like your boss.

You’ll need to carefully navigate your employment contracts, decide how to tell your boss about your side gig, and much more.

In this episode of Sidegig, we’ll give you some tips on navigating the sticky situation of telling your boss about your side business.

You can listen to the full episode below. We’ve also included some quick-to-read notes as well. We hope you enjoy episode 7 of Sidegig.

Sidenote: When you're done here, learn from 150+ freelancers who've been in your shoes with our all-new 30-day bootcamp: Zero to Freelancing. You'll love it.

Consider if it’s a conflict of interest

Ian, who works as a Creative Director for an eCommerce design agency, has a freelance logo design business on the side. From day one he has worked on fun side projects, but once the projects began making money, his side work was a potential risk to his full-time job.

Ian chose to be transparent with his bosses by mentioning what he was working on during every day casual conversations.

Although logo design is not directly conflicting with eCommerce design, since the agency still worked on logo projects from time time Ian felt being transparent and open was the right thing to do, rather than have them discover his side business.

Being open and honest makes sure everyone is in the clear. If you keep your side hustle a secret, and your boss finds out, he would be worried about your loyalty to the business, and could lose trust in you.

You may even lose your job over it.

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If your side hustle is totally different from your day job, it’s most likely not a problem at all as there are no conflicts of interest.

Check your contract

It’s important to check your contract or the agreement made with your employer as most businesses will not allow you to set up a conflicting business. If you are uncertain, you should check with your boss.

Ryan strongly recommends to have your contract checked by an attorney to highlight any areas of risk if you did plan to start your own business. Laws on non-compete agreements differ from state-to-state, so its worth knowing your legal rights – check your area here.

(Note: We are not lawyers or attorneys – if you need advice, please seek a professional.)

Think about the benefits to your employer

By being open with his bosses, Ian has been able to work in partnership with his company, passing over larger projects and taking a commission from the work – a win/win for both sides.

It’s also helped the sales team to secure some bigger clients.

Ian’s involvement with judging positions and books and magazines features (all of which have been a bi-product of his side hustle) has helped to give extra credibility to the company’s design team.

Preston got full time jobs because he was open about his side businesses during interviews.

His first job required 3 years experience. Because his employer was able to see he had experience from the work he did on the side while still in school, he got the job.

A complimentary side gig has benefits for both the business and your own side hustle.

What you learn in your side gig can be put back into your day job, and what you learn from your day job can be applied to your business.

Choosing between your side hustle and your day job

If given the choice between your side hustle and your day job, you’d probably choose your side gig over your full-time job.

It’s easier to get another job than it is to start a new business. The article 3 Reasons to Never Take Another Job discusses that if you are employable now, you are employable in 6 months. If your business conflicts, it’s better to pause and find a new job where you can pursue your dream.

As an example, Ryan made the decision to change jobs since his planned side hustle conflicted with his current full-time job.

He worked for a portable speaker company who focused on small-run custom printed products. At the time he worked for the company, he wanted to start a similar side business, Case Escape, manufacturing custom printed iPhone cases.

As Ryan had such a strong interest in the project, he made the decision to change jobs to work in a different industry so he could start his new business.

Be prepared that there still could be ill feelings once your previous employer finds out about your new company. Just be a little cautious in the transition.

Think about the confidence boost

Openly having a side gig can give you extra confidence since you are not dependent on a day job. This means it’s easier to talk about work fulfillments and pay raises.

It can also make people give you more respect, since it shows how hard you work.

Don’t forget about the higher expectations

Preston makes sure to be open about his side business with his company, but is cautious of who he might talk to about it as some may feel he is slacking.

There is a higher level of expectation once your boss knows about your side hustle, and you may need to work a bit harder to prove yourself.

It’s important not work on your side gig while at your desk job. This would be a dangerous move that could cause you to lose your job.

Work on your side business in your own time.

Just tell your boss

We all strongly agree that if you have a side business, you should be open with your bosses.

By being open and honest helps you maintain trust, and you have the option to keep growing your business without worry.

If the company does have a problem with your side business plans, you at least know the situation and can begin looking for a new job if you wish to pursue your dream.

One ex-Google employee, Liz Wessel, even went as far as notifying the company that she planned to start a business in 2 year’s time, even before she was offered the job – they still took her on anyway.

Tell your boss – there’s no reason not to.

Are you ready to tell your boss about your business? Listen to the full episode here.

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About Ian Paget

Ian is a graphic designer from Manchester, UK. He runs Logo Geek, designing logos and brand identities for start-ups and SMEs. He also runs a popular social media group of the same name where he shares and creates valuable logo design resources.

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