Stuart Gentle Publisher at Onrec

Can You Start a Business Whilst You Are Still Employed?

The decision to start a business while being employed elsewhere hinges on various legal, contractual, and ethical considerations.

While it's not illegal to start a business or set up a limited company while holding down a job, there are factors to consider, including contractual obligations, conflicts of interest, and potential breaches of employment terms. Understanding these factors is crucial for individuals contemplating entrepreneurship while maintaining employment.

Review Your Employment Contract

First and foremost, individuals should thoroughly review their employment contract and company policies. Many employment contracts contain clauses regarding conflicts of interest, moonlighting, or restrictions on engaging in other business activities. 

These clauses typically aim to protect the employer's interests and ensure that an employee's outside activities do not interfere with their primary job responsibilities or compete with the employer's business. 

Violating such clauses could result in disciplinary action, termination of employment, or even legal consequences, depending on the severity of the breach and the terms outlined in the contract.

Consider The Nature of Your Employment, Competition and Commitment

Employees must consider the nature of their employment and the potential impact of their business activities on their job performance. 

Engaging in a side business that requires significant time, resources, or mental energy could detract from one's ability to fulfill their duties as an employee. This could lead to conflicts with employers, colleagues, or clients, ultimately jeopardizing job security and professional reputation. However, doing a side hustle is very common these days and stats show that 60% of workers do something on the side.

Ethical Considerations

There are ethical considerations to bear in mind when starting a business while employed. It's essential to assess whether launching a business could create conflicts of interest or ethical dilemmas, particularly if the new venture competes directly with the employer or involves using confidential information obtained through employment. 

Maintaining transparency and integrity in professional relationships is paramount, and individuals should avoid situations where their personal interests clash with their obligations to their employer or clients.

Despite these challenges, many individuals successfully navigate the dual roles of employee and entrepreneur by proactively managing their time, responsibilities, and relationships. 

Discuss It With Your Employer Rather Than Hide It!

Clear communication with employers about intentions to start a business can help mitigate concerns and foster cooperation. Additionally, seeking legal advice or consulting with HR professionals can provide clarity on contractual obligations and potential risks.

In some cases, employers may even be supportive of employees pursuing entrepreneurial endeavors, recognizing the benefits of diverse skill sets, innovative thinking, and entrepreneurial spirit. Employers may offer flexible working arrangements, sabbaticals, or even financial support for employees' business ventures, fostering a culture of entrepreneurship within the organization.

For those considering starting a business while employed, careful planning and consideration are essential. This includes evaluating the feasibility of balancing both roles, conducting market research, developing a solid business plan, and assessing the potential risks and rewards. Additionally, seeking advice and support from mentors, industry peers, or entrepreneurial networks can provide valuable insights and guidance throughout the journey.

Ultimately, the decision to start a business while employed requires a thorough understanding of legal obligations, ethical considerations, and personal circumstances. By navigating these complexities with diligence, integrity, and strategic planning, individuals can pursue their entrepreneurial aspirations while maintaining professional integrity and respecting their obligations as employees in the United Kingdom.