I was listening to my new favorite podcast last week – Nick Loper’s Side Hustle Nation – and there was an awesome guest on, Chris Guthrie from Entrepreneur Boost. In the intro, he said something that really struck me - my boss fired me because he found out about my side job and figured that my heart wasn’t all into the company.
That sucks…but it got me wondering – are side hustlers and side entrepreneurs a weak link the company?
Where Side Hustling Employees Add Value
I think, in many cases, side hustling employees are some of the most valuable ones in the company. To be able to work full time and maintain a side hustle requires a level of execution that most employees simply don’t have. I would venture a guess that many side hustling employees are usually rated in the top 20% of employees in the workplace – simply because of their work ethic and skill set.
Should employers frown on side hustling?
In most cases no. Side hustling and side entrepreneurs can continue to add value to a company even with their side projects. Why does it have to be mutually exclusive?
Take the classic example of the barista at Starbucks who builds websites on the side. How does this side entrepreneurship hurt Starbucks? They aren’t competing in the same space, and he probably isn’t working on his side business while making coffee. This employee is also probably one of the best employees behind the counter, because he is good at multi-tasking and getting things done.
When Side Hustling Can Be Trouble
However, there are two circumstances with being a side entrepreneur can be trouble:
- You’re in violation of a non-compete clause of your employment contract
- You’re using company time and resources to work on your side hustle
First, some companies (notably tech companies) prevent you from working on side projects without letting the company know. Furthermore, anything you create from these side projects are typically the property of the company, even if you worked on them off the clock. This is very common in software and technology, where inventors who are employed by a company have to give all their inventions to the company – even if they made them at home in their spare time.
Second, you can get into trouble if you’re using your company’s resources to work on your side hustle. For example, if you were building a website during company time and on their computers, this can get you fired. It also shows that you probably are the weakest link in the company.
The Smart Side Entrepreneur is an Asset
The bottom line is that the smart entrepreneur – the one who follows the rules at work and gets their job done, all while still building a side business – is an asset to the company and should be treated as such. Companies shouldn’t necessarily frown on side work – it can be a good thing for all involved.
What are your thoughts? Do you think that side entrepreneurs are the weakest link, or do they add value?