Should You Tell Your Employer About Your Virtual Assistant Business?

Guest Blog By Debbie Robbins of Admin Roots

In the weeks that have passed, it has been quite difficult to switch on the news without hearing about the recent General Election which has been dominating much of the news. Different perspectives and opinions can be valuable to open minds and learn, but sometimes what we read or hear isn’t always based on truth. This is, of course, a whole different issue entirely, but it did get me thinking… is honesty always the best policy? I have always held honesty as central to my own ethical practises, however this question has been teasing me in relation to starting a new business when working in paid employment…

Is it a good idea to ‘spill the beans’ to your current employer about your new Virtual Assistant business?

This is, in fact, a very difficult question to answer for everyone without knowing the full circumstances of your current  employment, your side business and also contractual agreements between you and your current employer. That said, I believe there are some things to consider if you are in this predicament, particularly as I am sure no one would ever want to be in a position of having their P45 placed on their desk…

  1. Contract and employer’s policy on side business ventures: It would be within your best interest to look at your contract of employment and the company’s policies about employees running a separate business venture. Some employers may be absolutely fine with it, as they may see it as your own time and, in some instances, it may be of benefit to their business, particularly if you are learning new skills and continuing to develop your knowledge in a positive way. If your company does prohibit it, then it’s really down to you to consider your options and how you may feel under these circumstances. How will you feel working under false pretences? What are the implications if they find out? I recommend honesty as always being the best policy or you may find yourself in a contractual dispute with your employer and your job could be at risk.
  2. Conflict of Interest: If your new business is in direct competition with your current employer, then this would probably be a conflict of interest and your employer may be quite aggrieved and threatened by your side business. Would you potentially be taking clients away from their business?  If the answer is yes, then you may need to think about whether this is the right employer for you.
  3. Current employment’s time and resources: Whether or not you decide to inform your employer, it would be ethical to ensure you continue to give 100% whilst you are at work, which means being completely focused on your paid employment whilst you are there; not turning up stressed and tired; not using your employer’s resources for your own benefit and, most importantly, not working on your side business during your paid hours.
  4. Remaining ‘under the radar’ whilst still employed: This is certainly an option to consider whilst commencing your new business venture, and one that I personally embarked upon at the beginning. However there is a disadvantage to remaining incognito which may include not being able to fully market your business due to fear of ‘being found out’. If your contract specifically forbids you operating a business on the side then there may be serious consequences from operating incognito. That said, if you are able to do it, it can give you time to produce a business plan and discover if your business venture is viable before fully committing yourself. This may include making use of websites such as peopleperhour.com where you can register for part time work and gauge the demand of the services you are offering.
  5. Social Media and Online Marketing: If you choose to go incognito, you may have to think carefully about how you market yourself through social media without making yourself too visible to your employer. This can be difficult, particularly as social media is often considered to be an essential marketing tool for new businesses. However, I would advise to try and keep your business social media posts to a minimum and eliminate certain people that could be a potential threat. You could also create a pseudonym and use your business logo instead of your own personal photo. If you decide to market your business through Google Business pages and you are working from your home address, then you may also consider the option of purchasing a PO Box. You are required to input a valid address when entering your details on Google but you can hide this if you don’t want your address to be identified. Click here to find out how to do this.

Conclusion

It is my belief that working on the side can be good for your current employment. Despite my decision to keep the marketing of my business slightly ‘under the radar’ due to the sensitivity of my current role, I found it made sense to inform my employer about my business, particularly as I highlighted the extensive learning and development that I have undertaken whilst starting the business, which has been essential for me and my full time job.… maybe this is a stance you can also take?

Individual circumstances play a large part when making decisions, however, wherever possible, I believe that it is ethical to be honest. If you do decide that honesty is the policy, it will turn out to be extremely positive for both parties, making you a happier and more multifaceted employee, and what employer wouldn’t want that?!

Click here to find out more about Debbie Robbins and her Virtual Assistant Business

2 Comments

  • George

    Reply Reply June 15, 2017

    Thank you so much for sharing this blog post! Really interesting read and incredibly useful to.

    • admin

      Reply Reply June 23, 2017

      Thank you George!

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