How to tell your boss about your freelancing or contracting side gig

Dream of launching yourself as a freelancer on the side, but don’t want it to affect your job? Here are six things you need to do when telling your boss about your freelance side gig.

It’s easy to envy the freelance life – working for clients you choose, in the hours that suit you, from wherever you wish. But it can take a while to build up your freelance business, and in the meantime that often means working on the side while holding down your day job.

But how do you broach this with your boss? The last thing you want is for them to find out about your freelance side gig by accident. It’s far better to be upfront from the start, and get their seal of approval for your freelance or contracting work.

Six things you need to do when telling your boss about your freelance side gig

In this article, Jenny Winslow from Intouch Accounting shares her tips for approaching the conversation, and getting started on your self-employed empire without upsetting your current boss.

1) Take a look at your contract

Before you let your boss know of your plans, take a look at your contract’s terms and conditions. Does it mention freelancing or contracting on the side, and if so, what’s its stance? If a second job is frowned upon, to what extent, and what effect would this have on your overall plans?

Your answer to this first point could determine whether you pursue your self employed dream as a side project, or whether you take the full leap and quit your job. Ensure you understand it fully before discussing with your boss, and consider talking it through with an employment lawyer if concerned or want to ensure you keep yourself out of any potential hot water.

2) Consider if there’s a conflict of interest

Will the work you’re completing as a freelancer or contractor conflict or compete with your current employer’s business in any way? This can include things like completing work for their competitors, producing similar work or products, or simply doing something which they would consider a threat.

If it’s laid out in your contract, be sure to highlight this point then ask to discuss it with your boss. You may find that what you’re planning to do might not be a conflict of interest at all, but if this turns out to be the case be sure to have it in writing from your boss, as you never know how it could be construed further down the line and may wish to refer to their initial decision.

3) Be honest

When freelancing or contracting you’ll need to promote yourself to get your name, skills and availability out there. Whilst promotion is a fantastic way of letting people know what you’re up to, it can severely backfire if you fail to let your boss know before you start selling yourself.

Ensure you’re open and honest with your boss about your plans from the get-go, because if you don’t tell them you can be sure it won’t take long for them to find out.

4) Reassure them that your side gig won’t affect your day job

Their first concern when hearing about your plans may be whether your new role will affect your day job. Reassure them that the time taken to complete your new venture will be totally outside of your working hours, and that when you’re in work your attention is 100% there, and not on your new job.

5) Never mix your day job and new venture

Be sure to keep any correspondence relating to your new role either completely outside of working hours, or during your lunch break. The same goes for updating your social channels such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.

Always ensure you have a separate email address that’s dedicated to your freelancing / contracting role, and only ever take calls from clients when you’re not at your day to day place of work. By keeping the two completely separate you’ll also find it easier to focus on each role individually, and staying professional at your day job will become second nature.

6) Demonstrate your new venture’s positives to your boss

A new freelancing or contracting role will mean you’ll constantly be learning, gaining in confidence and motivated to go that extra mile to get what you want. And your current boss will be benefiting from all of these new/developed skills for free! So be sure to let them know how your new venture will also benefit them in the long run.

Don’t let your day job stop you from achieving your dreams

Whilst your day job can provide the security of a steady paycheck, it will never provide the same level of satisfaction as achieving your own personal self employed goals. So have a good think about what you really want from your career this New Year and go for it! You’ll never look back…

Unsure of whether a career in contracting or freelancing is for you? Take a look at the six telltale signs you’re ready to make the leap, to help you decide if the time is right now for you.

Jenny Winslow works for Intouch Accounting, the expert contractor accountancy firm for Limited Company contractors.