One of the most awkward parts of designing an income to the side of a full-time job is deciding how to approach the subject with your employer… or if you tell them at all.

For employees that are actively designing an income while at their full-time job, there’s a specific side hustle code of ethics that must be adhered to in order to avoid conflict, or even untimely termination.

Double Check Your Noncompete Agreement

Depending on the employer and industry, you may have been required to sign a non-compete agreement with the stack of paperwork you went through upon hiring. As a rule of thumb, if you interface directly with clients, you’ve probably signed this form. If you’re not sure, or don’t have a copy – check with the HR department, and make sure to get one!

The good news about restrictive non-compete agreements is that they’re largely unenforceable, at least in terms of you operating within another company in the same industry. After all, you have to be allowed to make money, and the company you work for doesn’t “own” your skills. 

As far as your noncompete agreement is concerned, it’s much more important to go through stipulations about taking clients that must be followed to avoid legal issues. In general, as long as you didn’t approach clients while you’re still at your current job, you have a leg to stand on. But Income Designers doesn’t pretend to know the law inside and out – make sure to consult with a lawyer if you’re worried that designing an income may be in conflict with a signed noncompete agreement.

Tell Your Employer about Your Business

Once you’ve started to commit yourself to designing an income, it’s a good idea to share your new involvement with your employer. This may seem a bit counterintuitive – but hear us out. Sharing the details of what you do on your own time reinforces that you respect the work you do while you’re on the clock.

It may be reassuring for your employer to hear that you’re exploring a creative passion that brings in additional income for you, but that you’re still very committed to your job. Obviously, you probably shouldn’t say this if you don’t actually mean it.

It’s especially important to tell your employer about your job on the side if you think they’ll find out anyways. It’s much better coming from you, not through the grapevine, or a random Google search on your name. You’ll build trust with your employer if you’re upfront, instead of lying to cover it up.

Don’t do Other Work at Your Full-Time Job

No matter what, don’t do other work at your full-time job. It’s extremely unethical, even if you have spare time you think could be better utilized. You’re getting a salary to help your company – not advance your own outside involvements. Besides, if your employer catches on that you’re doing other work at your full-time job, it’s immediate grounds to fire you. Don’t risk it!

When you’re not on the clock, like at lunch, it’s fair game as far as working to design an income. Just don’t let yourself get burnt out by never taking a real break when balancing a full-time job and designing an income.

If your side gig is related to your full-time job, use work hours wisely to learn as much as you can. In this way, idle hours don’t have to be wasted, and you don’t have to risk your job to advance your potential side earnings.

Kick Butt at Work

This is an important next step after telling your employer about your plans to design an income. Don’t give them anything to worry about, and they will show you respect for what you’re trying to build.

Don’t Use Work Resources for Designing an Income

Does your company have access to an expensive software program that could help you with what you do outside of work? Resist temptation. Unless your employer offers, you shouldn’t use work resources to advance your own efforts to design an income. This is another shady practice that could easily get you fired.

Side Hustle Code of Ethics: Your Turn

Many of the items on this side hustle code of ethics are fairly obvious and straightforward, but there’s definitely more to it than just this! So what would you add to this side hustle code of ethics? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!