When we talk about “making more,” often we’re talking about a side hustle, an extra gig you do in addition to your day job to bring in additional revenue. Well, it’s important to make sure your day job and your side hustle don’t get in each other’s way.
Many thanks to Jenny Odegard of forbes.com for this great advice. She points out that the simple act of researching, developing or arranging your side business on your employer’s computer, could mean your your employer gets a piece of the action. Yikes! Here are several ways to steer clear:
- Only work on your side job on your personal computer. Even hooking up your personal computer to the company WIFI could expose you to problems. Along the same lines, don’t use the company software, company phone or cell phone or even the company copy machine to pursue your side hustle business. At the very least, the company could fire you for not making good use of work hours and resources. Worst case scenario, your boss could have enough proof to claim that the invention or idea you came up with belongs to the company instead of to you. The solution: Buy your own computer and other equipment —they’re cheap these days.
- Work on your own time on your own computer or other equipment. Odegard, who is an attorney, says waiting until after work hours and then working from your employer’s desk is not good enough. Go home or to a co-working space and do the work there.
- Read your employment documents. Even if you didn’t sign a formal contract, you may have received an offer letter or an employee handbook or —more ominous— what’s called an intellectual property assignment agreement. Make sure you have copies of these documents and know what’s in them BEFORE there’s a problem, not after.
- Final suggestion: don’t work on your side hustle with coworkers at the office. Odegard says it’s actually OK to pursue a side hustle with co-workers. Hey, probably half the startups in Silicon Valley start this way. But collaborate away from the office. Keep a clean line of separation. Don’t even discuss your side hustle with these colleagues at a company-sponsored happy hour or holiday party.
Bottom line: it’s called a side hustle because it’s NOT part of your main career. Keep it that way in regard to equipment, time, and colleagues —and keep it safe.