How to Start Up your business While Still Employed

A good hedge against the risks of starting your
own business is to start up while you still have a
job that pays a regular salary and benefits. If
you’re in a position to do that, you’ll have the
best of both worlds. There are some simple Do’s
and Don’ts that can guide you as you walk a
sometimes fine line between your career and
entrepreneurship.
Do’s
1. Do consider running your business as a part-
time operation alongside your current job. This is
a great model because you’ll continue to have
income and benefits.
2. Do understand and follow your employment
contract to the letter, especially if it makes
reference to inventions and intellectual property
(IP) that you develop as part of your job. Almost
always, anything developed on company time
and using company property belongs to the
company. If you do not have an employment
contract, you’re still not in the clear. Check the
company’s Employee Manual for references to
ownership of inventions and IP. No manual? Ask
your Human Resources manager or someone
functioning in that role to explain the policy.
3. Do set aside cash reserves from the income
your startup creates that can sustain you when
and if you decide to leave your job.
4. Do be as open with your employer as possible.
In fact, if your business is not competitive with
theirs, see if you can turn them into a customer
or client. You may even be able to get your
employer to invest in your startup, or allow you
to hold equity in a joint venture. If you think you
might go the route of having an employer as a
customer, investor or partner, get input from a
trusted advisor such as an attorney on how to
proceed.
5. Do clear the decks. If you are going to do your
day job and your part-time business, that doesn’t
leave much time for non-essential activities.
Decide what’s really important and dump the
rest.
Don’ts
1. Don’t use corporate computers or email
systems to send any emails related to your
business. Even if you log into your webmail
account to send email, you still have problems:
you are using their property to further your own
business, which could present a legal challenge
later. They may have the right to read whatever
keystrokes you’ve entered, even if your emails
were not entered on the company’s email system.
2. Don’t feel pressured to leave your job as your
business starts to gain traction. New businesses
go through life cycles and some early wins do not
necessarily mean you have a sustainable
enterprise.
3. Don’t choose a business that doesn’t lend itself
to part-time involvement if you can only do it
part-time to start. For example, opening a retail
food store can be an all-consuming endeavor. If
you are not reachable and not hands-on at the
beginning stages, you are setting yourself up for
potential failure.
4. Don’t talk about your part-time business to
other employees around the proverbial water-
cooler. This could be construed as promoting
your business on company time. The silence rule
extends to discussions on company time with
your employer’s clients and suppliers.
5. Don’t be afraid to take the leap to full-time
entrepreneurship when the time is right.
Running a business part-time can be partly
successful, but unless you are going to be a
passive investor, the business will grow only up
to a certain point without the full-time
commitment of the owner.

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