10 Ways to Avoid Getting Fired When Starting a Side Business

Updated on: by Amy Kennedy
An individual doing an online side business

Embarking on an entrepreneurial journey while maintaining a full-time job can be exhilarating yet challenging.

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As you dip your toes into these exciting waters, it’s crucial to navigate carefully, ensuring your side business doesn’t jeopardize your primary employment.

This guide offers ten insightful tips to prevent any missteps that might lead to getting fired:

Understanding and Respecting Your Employment Contract

Be Aware of the Contractual Obligations

The first step towards ensuring your full-time employment isn’t compromised due to your side business is understanding your employment contract. Most organizations have explicit clauses that regulate employees’ external engagements, with some even requiring approval for such activities.

Hence, it’s essential to familiarize yourself with your contract’s fine print to steer clear of any potential violations.

Legal Advice Can Be Helpful

If certain parts of your contract appear ambiguous or overly restrictive, consider seeking legal advice. An employment lawyer can provide insights into the implications of your contractual obligations and guide you on the best course of action.

Websites like Avvo offer a platform to ask legal questions and find lawyers.

Stay Informed About Updates

Employment contracts can change, and it’s crucial to stay updated. Make sure to review any amendments or updates to the company policy to remain compliant, ensuring your side business doesn’t breach new regulations or guidelines.

Managing Your Time Wisely

Prioritize Your Full-time Job

While starting a side business can be exciting, remember that your full-time job should remain your priority. Ensure your side business doesn’t interfere with your job responsibilities.

Avoid working on your business during office hours, and dedicate specific time slots outside work for your entrepreneurial pursuits.

Master the Art of Time Management

Effective time management is crucial in juggling a side business along with a full-time job. Employ time management techniques such as Eisenhower’s Matrix or time blocking to prioritize tasks and manage your time efficiently.

Utilize Technology

Leverage technology to manage your time better. Use digital tools such as Google Calendar for scheduling, Trello for task management, and productivity apps like RescueTime to optimize your work hours.

Keeping Your Side Business Separate

Maintain Distinct Boundaries

A critical rule to follow is to maintain strict boundaries between your full-time job and side business. This means not using your workplace’s resources or time for your side business.

It’s essential to keep your work and side business emails, contacts, and activities separate.

Respect Workplace Norms

Avoid conducting side business activities at your workplace. Even activities like making calls, sending emails, or scheduling meetings related to your business should be kept outside of your full-time work environment.

Use Personal Resources

Ensure that all the resources used for your side business are exclusively yours. This extends to digital devices, internet connections, office supplies, or even software subscriptions.

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Using resources from your workplace for your side business could lead to severe repercussions, including termination.

Maintaining Your Work Performance

Consistent Performance is Key

Your work performance should not falter because of your side business. Keep up with your job’s expectations and deliver your assignments timely.

Maintaining your work performance reassures your employer that your side business isn’t interfering with your responsibilities.

Seek Continuous Improvement

Even with a side business, aim to continue improving in your role. Participate in workshops, online courses, and training that your organization offers.

Platforms like Coursera also offer courses that can help you develop professionally.

Keep a Tab on Your Energy Levels

Ensure that the additional work from your side business doesn’t drain you to the point of affecting your performance at your full-time job. Maintain a balanced lifestyle, including adequate sleep, regular exercise, and healthy eating habits.

Prioritize self-care and understand your limits.

Avoiding Conflicts of Interest

Understand What Constitutes Conflict of Interest

A conflict of interest arises when your side business competes with your employer’s business or can be perceived as doing so. It’s crucial to understand this and ensure your side business doesn’t pose any potential conflict.

Consider your company’s policy on conflict of interest and adhere to it.

Be Transparent

Transparency can help avoid conflicts of interest. If there’s any chance that your side business might be perceived as a conflict, it’s advisable to disclose it to your employer.

It’s better to have an open discussion rather than face complications later on.

Seek Legal Counsel

If you’re unsure about potential conflicts of interest, consider seeking legal advice. A legal expert can help clarify whether your side business can cause a conflict and suggest steps to avoid it.

Some online legal services like LegalZoom can provide guidance on such matters.

Respecting Intellectual Property Rights

Understand Intellectual Property Rights

Ensure you don’t violate any intellectual property rights of your employer. This includes patents, trademarks, copyrights, and trade secrets.

Misusing your employer’s intellectual property for your side business can lead to severe legal consequences and job termination.

Be Careful with Proprietary Information

Avoid using any proprietary information from your full-time job in your side business. This includes confidential data, customer lists, or unique methods or technologies used by your employer.

Consult a Legal Expert

If you’re unsure about what constitutes intellectual property or proprietary information, consult a legal expert. They can guide you on these matters, ensuring you don’t inadvertently infringe on your employer’s rights.

Being Honest If Asked

Honesty is the Best Policy

If your employer or colleagues inquire about your side business, be honest. Lying or concealing the truth could lead to trust issues and even job termination if found out later.

Choose Your Words Wisely

While it’s essential to be honest, it’s equally crucial to communicate effectively. Explain your side business in a way that shows it doesn’t interfere with your full-time job responsibilities or create conflicts of interest.

Stay Prepared for Questions

Prepare yourself for potential questions about your side business. Think in advance about how to address concerns around time management, work performance, or conflicts of interest.

Being Prepared for Possible Outcomes

Anticipate Reactions

People at your workplace may react differently to your side business. While some might be supportive, others may have concerns.

Be prepared to address those concerns and reassure them about your commitment to your full-time job.

Plan B is Essential

It’s crucial to have a backup plan if your side business doesn’t sit well with your employer. This could mean looking for another job, scaling back your side business, or making other necessary adjustments.

Constant Evaluation

Regularly evaluate the impact of your side business on your full-time job. If it starts to negatively affect your work performance or relationship with your employer, it may be time to reassess and make changes.

Not Soliciting Co-workers or Clients

Maintain Professional Boundaries

While it might be tempting to leverage your existing professional network for your side business, avoid soliciting your coworkers or clients. Turning business discussions into sales pitches for your side business could strain professional relationships and lead to potential conflicts.

Utilize Outside Networks

Focus on building a separate network for your side business outside of your day job. Attend networking events, join online business communities, or use social media platforms like LinkedIn to connect with potential clients, partners, or mentors for your side business.

Separate Business and Personal Life

Strive to maintain a balance between your professional life and side business. Avoid talking about your side business excessively at work, as it could give the impression that it’s taking precedence over your day job.

Keep Up Your Commitment to Your Full-time Job

Stay Committed

Demonstrate your commitment to your full-time job by remaining engaged and motivated. Continue to contribute to team discussions, take on new projects, and show that you are still dedicated to your role, despite your side business.

Maintain Professional Relationships

Keep up your professional relationships at work. Regular interactions with your coworkers and superiors reinforce your commitment to your full-time job and can alleviate any concerns they might have about your side business.

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Take Initiative

Even with a side business, look for opportunities to take on additional responsibilities or lead projects at work. This can underscore your commitment to your job and show that you can effectively manage your side business without compromising your role at work.

Enhancing Your Skill Set to Benefit Both Jobs

Continuous Learning

When you launch a side business, it inevitably leads to an expansion of your skill set. You may learn about marketing, finance, management, and more, depending on the nature of your side business.

Take note of these new skills as they could turn out to be valuable assets in your full-time job.

In your full-time job, these new skills can make you a more effective team member. It can help you understand different aspects of the business, contribute more to meetings, and even lead to promotions or increased responsibility.

Leveraging Online Platforms

There are many online platforms, such as Coursera, Udemy, and Skillshare, where you can further enhance your skills. These platforms offer courses in various domains that can help you in managing your side business effectively.

They also provide certification upon completion which you can showcase in your professional portfolio.

Taking courses related to your side business not only helps you run your business effectively but can also add to your professional development in your full-time job.

For instance, if you’re running a digital marketing agency as a side business, a course in digital marketing can also boost your performance in a role that involves digital marketing in your full-time job.

Transfer of Skills

Identify which of your newly acquired skills are transferable to your full-time job. This could be anything from time management, project planning, leadership abilities, or problem-solving techniques.

Applying these skills to your full-time job can help you become more efficient and productive. Moreover, demonstrating these new skills can show your superiors that your side business is not a distraction, but rather a source of professional growth.

Offering New Insights

The experience of running a side business can provide unique insights and perspectives that you can bring to your full-time job.

For instance, if your side business involves dealing with customers directly, you might gain a deeper understanding of customer needs and expectations, which can be beneficial in a job where understanding the customer is key.

Share these insights during relevant discussions at your full-time job. It can highlight the benefits of your side hustle to your superiors and colleagues, potentially alleviating any concerns they might have.

Showcasing Your Growth

Compile a portfolio showcasing the projects you have completed or the milestones you’ve achieved in your side business. This portfolio can act as tangible proof of the skills you’ve acquired and the progress you’ve made.

Presenting this portfolio during performance reviews can demonstrate your commitment to personal growth and development, potentially leading to new opportunities within your full-time job.

Navigating Discussions with Your Employer About Your Side Business

Preparing for The Conversation

Before you approach your employer about your side business, prepare your talking points. Explain how you manage your time to ensure your side business does not interfere with your job responsibilities.

Assure them that your side business does not pose any conflict of interest with your full-time job.

Consider preparing a document that outlines your work schedule, including how you separate your side business from your full-time job.

This can provide your employer with concrete proof of your commitment to maintaining your job performance.

Demonstrating Respect for Company Time

Ensure your employer that you respect company time and resources. Assure them that you conduct your side business activities outside of work hours and without using company resources.

Presenting your time management plan can help convince your employer of your respect for company time. This could be as simple as a schedule that outlines when you focus on your full-time job and when you work on your side business.

Handling Potential Conflict of Interest

Explain how your side business does not compete with your full-time job or exploit its resources. If possible, choose a side business that is in a different industry or targets a different market than your full-time job to avoid potential conflicts.

In some cases, you might need to provide a written statement or sign a non-compete agreement that confirms your side business is not a conflict of interest.

Responding to Feedback

Be prepared for your employer to provide feedback or express concerns about your side business. They might worry about your commitment to your job or potential conflicts of interest.

Respond to their concerns with understanding and respect. Offer solutions or compromises to alleviate their worries, and be willing to adjust your side business plans if necessary to maintain your job security.

Continuous Communication

Keep your employer updated about your side business, especially if there are any major changes that could potentially affect your full-time job.

Regular updates can help maintain trust between you and your employer and can prevent any misunderstandings or issues from arising.

Remember, the goal is not to hide your side business but to manage it in a way that respects your full-time job and maintains a healthy professional relationship with your employer.


As you fuel your entrepreneurial spirit and work towards turning your side business dream into reality, remember the importance of maintaining professionalism in your full-time job.

With our comprehensive guide, you’re now equipped to balance both roles effectively.

Here’s to a successful journey that offers the best of both worlds without risking your primary source of income.

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