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How to set up a small business while working on the side

Many of us feel like we’re tied into full time employment yet have a burning desire to break free from the self-imposed PAYE shackles and start our own business.

Starting a new business can be scary. It’s a leap into the unknown and there is a lot to consider. When you’re employed full time by a company and looking to start a business in your spare time, these pressures can be a lot higher. You’re not alone – the Office for National Statistics stated in a 2014 study that over 350,000 people have a second self-employed job.

Check your current employment contract

It’s advisable to read your current employment contract from front to back before making the decision to start a business while employed. Are there any clauses in your contract that state you’re unable to start your own business? What about whether there could be a perceived conflict of interest? Raise any questions with HR – who can often deal with enquiries confidentially. The last thing you would want to happen would be to breach your contract and risk termination.

Be honest

Once you understand how starting a business can affect your employment status within the company, it’s always a good idea to have an open and honest conversation with your boss. How is your current employer able to support your new business? If you choose to setup your new business as a limited company and register as a Director, this information is viewable to the public – a search on the Companies House website by a suspicious employer could reveal your new business.

Be aware of employment benefits – are you able to approach your current employer about flexible working hours or a reduction in your contractual hours?

Who needs to know?

You’re naturally excited to be starting your own business, and rightly so. It’s your decision whether to tell colleagues or not – would they be supportive and actively encourage your external endeavour? Or would there be potential jealousy resulting in tension and conflict? Be tactful in whoever you inform.

Be respectful

Whilst your desire to leave your full time job may be burning inside of you, remember you are still employed. Be respectful. Don’t waste company time working on your business idea. Leave on good terms – you never know when you’ll have to call upon your former colleagues or boss for support.

Finance awareness

If you are starting your own business, as either a sole trader or limited company, you’ll need to let HMRC know. This is so you can file your Self Assessment on time and pay the correct tax on your income. It is a legal requirement to inform HMRC once you start earning from your business. Don’t create any additional worry or concern for yourself by not having your taxes organised.

Work / life balance

Working two jobs can be very tricky to juggle. Ensure you make time for yourself, friends and family and have designated pockets of time where you aren’t working. It’s about work / life balance, not work / work balance. Switch your phone to silent and turn your email notifications off. Remember that your health is important. Don’t work yourself to the point of exhaustion or illness.

Be organised

If you’re anything like me, being organised is the only way you’ll ever get things done. Structure your precious time well and you’ll find your productivity levels soar. Set realistic goals and stick to them. A good example would be look at what do you want to achieve over a 30/60/90 day period or construct a week by week checklist of what you want to achieve. There are many Apps that can help organise your time – have a browse and see what fits your lifestyle.

Find support

There are many resources to help support you whilst you consider or plan to start your own business – these range from funding and grants to crowdfunding, or if you’ve got a few flush friends peer-to-peer lending. Networking is your best friend so don’t shy away from local events – your cities Chamber of Commerce is a good place to start. If you feel ready, check out our guide ‘How to Write a Business Plan‘.

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