How can you start a business without destroying your reputation and your career in the process? In this article, Brendan Hufford shares wisdom gained by experience as a school teacher who built a podcast and an apparel business on the side.
Listen closely. Brendan's advice will save you from regret while pointing you toward success.
I will never forget the sinking feeling of hearing my podcast’s intro music start playing from my co-workers phone during an all staff meeting.
“Do they know?”
“Do they care?”
“Am I in trouble?”
They did, they didn’t and I wasn’t, but that wasn’t the end of it.
Two months later my boss called me into his office.
I figured he wanted to catch me up on something that happened the day before. You see, I had just taken a day off work to go to the doctor in the morning and deliver a webinar in the afternoon (but only told him about the doctor’s appointment).
It was normal to meet in my boss’s office because, as the assistant principal, my office was on the opposite side of the school. Still, I was being called to the principal’s office and, despite being thirty, that weird feeling never goes away.
He asked me to have a seat, clicked his keyboard a few times and slowly turned around his monitor so I could see it.
Staring back at me was my own face … on my webinar landing page.
… We have just lost cabin pressure …
It felt like when Jack finds how he is Tyler Durden.
I didn’t get fired.
But I did learn a few valuable lessons on how to keep my boss happy while I built something on the side.
1. Build It For the Right Reasons
Most importantly, you need to build your side business for the right reasons. Hating your day job and running away from it is the worst reason you can have. You will make terrible decisions and do a lot of things for the wrong reasons (including building a side business you don’t even care about) when you’re running away from your job instead of running toward your side business. Build something you’re compelled to build, solve a problem you are uniquely suited to solve, for a community you want to serve.
When I started building my jiu jitsu brand, I built it because I loved the martial art and hated my job. In the process, I turned the only thing I enjoyed outside of work into a second job. I quickly had two jobs I hated and so ruined my only stress-relief from work.
Now that I’m building something new, I’ve gone through a vetting process and figured out everything correctly. For the first time, I’m running toward my business and not away from my 9-5.
2. Don’t Double Dip
You aren’t stupid, but neither is your boss. They know you’re going to do other stuff while you’re on the clock. It’s why they block Facebook and Twitter.
Even though they expect you to try working on your side business during work hours, you don’t have to.
Even if you hate your 9-5 and hate your boss, you can choose to take the ethical high ground and crush it in both areas of your life.
Even if you don’t want to be moral, then be selfish. Here’s what I mean:
Over time, if you spend 8 hours at work pretending and not getting anything done, it becomes incredibly difficult to stay a productive person in other areas of your life.
You are either disciplined, or you are not. It is very hard for a human being to have extreme discipline in one area of her life and be totally undisciplined in another.
Discipline yourself at work and focus on your performance goals. It will allow you to carry that same work ethic over into your side business when you clock out.
3. You Don’t Have to Lie
You’re building something.
On the internet.
Which, as best I can guess, your boss has access to.
She’s going to know.
So don’t lie about it and make it awkward for both of you.
If you have a great boss, they’ll be super happy you have something you’re pumped about doing outside of work.
If you have a terrible boss, then there’s simply nothing they can do about it since you’re going to still crush it at work.
One of the most important things that we’ve overlooked so far is that if you’re going to build a side business, you’re going to have to stop caring what other people think, including your boss. Realize that whether they’re happy is mostly out of your control and that even if you follow all the advice mentioned, they still might disagree with your choice.
The good news?
It doesn’t matter if they’re happy or not.
Be transparent and do your job better than ever knowing that the success habits you use at work will carry over into your side hustle. For example, the discipline Dave Chesson showed in his military career has carried over into the incredible progress he’s made in his side business. The organized, tactical mindset he used every day at work is the same he used to find early business success. The same will be true for you.
I’d love to hear from you in the comments. Does your boss know about your side business? What have you found successful in keeping him or her happy?