Start a Home Business on the Side with “Ethical Moonlighting”

This post is part of Women’s Money Week. Today the theme is Entrepreneurship/Making Money. Head over to see some great content on starting a business and making more money!

Recently, I was looking for information on turning your hobby into income for something I was writing for a client. One of the women I emailed about subject was Pamela Skillings, author of Escape from Corporate America, and the entrepreneur behind Skillfully Done, an interview coaching and career counseling company. If you are looking for ways to earn more money, she talks about “ethical moonlighting.”

What is Ethical Moonlighting?

Your first step is understand the ethical way to start a side business. Skillings describes ethical moonlighting:

With ethical moonlighting, you start a business on the side without jeopardizing your day job. To do this, you must understand your employee handbook and make sure you don’t violate any non-compete or other rules.

It’s also important to follow rules of common decency. Skillings points out that you shouldn’t poach clients from your current employer, and you shouldn’t use company resources to get your own side business off the ground. However, that doesn’t mean that your employer can’t help you with your home business. “Your hobby business is most likely not a direct competitor for your employer,” she says. “I know several entrepreneurs who benefited greatly from employer support when first starting out.”

If you are creating a product that you can sell, and that others might enjoy, your employer can be a big help as you promote it. “One financial services executive started designing handbags and selling them online and her coworkers were her first and most passionate customers,” Skillings says.

As you start your side business, and work on turning it into viable income, you need to make sure you are following ethical standards, and that you remember that your day job is separate from your home business. You need to start out by working on your business in your spare time.

Creating Home Business Success

For many, the point of a side business is to eventually create enough success that the business becomes the primary source of income, rather than a secondary income source. Skillings says that the most important thing you can do for your home business is to make time for it: “If you’re serious about success with your side business, you must create a structure and block out time — after hours and on weekends — to spend on it.”

Making more money isn’t something that just happens. There is no magic solution to improving your earning power. You need to have the work ethic and discipline to chase your dreams of working from home with your own business. “You will never turn it into a truly profitable venture if you only think about it ‘when you have time.’ If you have a full-time job and a life, you won’t ‘have time’ unless you ‘make time,’” Skillings insists.

It really is in your hands. Many of us discount the fact we spend an inordinate amount of time watching TV, messing around on Facebook, and succumbing to other distractions. In truth, there are side hustles that you can start even if you only have a couple hours a night to spare. If you are truly interested in making more money with your own side business, you really do need to set aside the time to make it work.

Skillings also has some other great points about what it takes to create success with a home business: “If you really want to turn your hobby into a profitable business, you will have to invest time, energy, and money. You will have to educate yourself on the market and business planning, find mentors who have built their own businesses.”

With the right planning, and some discipline and ambition, it is possible to get your home business off the ground. Start out by moonlighting ethically, and when you are ready, you can quit your day job on good terms.

This post is a part of Women’s Money Week 2012. For more posts about Entrepreneurship/Making Money, see womensmoneyweek.com.

Written by Miranda Marquit

Miranda Marquit is a freelance writer and professional blogger, specializing in personal finance, small business, and investing topics. She writes for a number of financial web sites and blogs, and has been featured in numerous media. Read about life as a freelancer at MirandaMarquit.com and in her book Confessions of a Professional Blogger.

2 Responses to Start a Home Business on the Side with “Ethical Moonlighting”

  1. Definitely nothing wrong with trying your hand at being an entrepreneur when you are still an employee, working for someone else. Probably the smart way to do it! However, as this post points out, it is going to take a large time commitment in order to have any chance of success.

    For those that are willing to put in the time, and have something that they are passionate about which can be turned into a profitable enterprise, the potential payoff is well worth the temporary sacrifices. After all, it will be like having a second fulltime job, which is something most people probably don’t realize.

  2. Loving all the tips and encouragement to start your own business while working a day job! You’re right, one does have to be careful and be in compliance of the rules set out by the day job. But that shouldn’t deter anyone from following their dreams and who knows, maybe they’ll even be able to work on their own business full-time one day!

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