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How to Use Your Current Job to Feed Your New Business

By Myrtis Smith
Posted Friday, December 17, 2004

For most people, starting a new business involves a gradual transition from their “real job”. Often you can take advantage of your current employment by using a few simple tips.

There are several company perks you should utilize to the fullest extent:

1. Training. If your company is willing to send you to training, take advantage of it. Find courses that will serve double duty; that is a course that will help you in your current job AND your future business.

2. Networking. Get to know as many people as you can. Your current employer may turn out to be your biggest customer. Plan on becoming a freelance writer? Get to know the people in marketing. Plan on doing independent computer programming? Become buddies with someone in IT. You never know where leads will come from.

3. Find a mentor; preferably someone high on the food chain. If you are fortunate enough to work in a small company, try to get to know the owner or the president. Observe how he conducts himself. Learn as much as you can about the ins and outs of running a business. There are lots of entrepreneurs willing to take a new person under their wing.

4. Buy old equipment. If your company is upgrading computers or remodeling the office, investigate the possibility of buying some items. Many of those things could be sold directly to you at a fraction of the price you would pay at an office store.

5. Build your portfolio. It doesn’t make sense to start from scratch; save copies of projects, reports, and presentations to add to your portfolio to show your future clients. Be sure you understand your company’s confidentiality agreement. You may need to make modifications in order to remove the company’s name and names of its clients. You may also need modifications to protect your company’s intellectual property rights. Your goal is to keep the essence of your work (i.e. show off what you are capable of doing) without violating your company’s trust.

Finally, let’s highlight two things, no matter how tempting, you should never do:

1. Never use your employer’s materials (pens, paper, computer, printer, etc.)

2. Never use your employer’s time

True Story: I use to work for a consulting firm. It wasn’t uncommon for a consultant to spend a couple of weeks in between projects with no work to do. The consultant would still be paid by the company and was viewed like being on call. I know of one individual who spent his “in between” period working on a software program using his company laptop. The last I heard, the company was suing the young man for intellectual property rights to the software. The company contends that the software was created while they were paying the individual and he used their equipment.

Don’t let a situation like this happen to you. Be smart about what resources you use.


About the Author
Myrtis Smith is a freelance writer and coach. If writing seems like a chore in your business, contact her ( to learn ways to make it easier.


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