Consulting side gig while at mega corp

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regularguy455
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Consulting side gig while at mega corp

Post by regularguy455 » Sat Jan 13, 2018 9:07 am

I have a good, stable job at mega corp with about 5 years of experience there. I am about to be promoted and will likely get a 7-10% raise and will be eligible for a 5% bonus. I am also going to participate in a 3-4 year management development program starting sometime this year.

That said, one of my friends works as a consultant and asked if I was interested in helping. I could likely bill $150/hr and make around $7-$10k over a couple months. The project leverages my experience and would be relatively straight forward to do.

Do I need to inform mega corp about this? Do you think it’s a bad idea and not worth the risk? I’m looking for thoughts and opinions on if I should do this and/or how it should be done.

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rob
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Re: Consulting side gig while at mega corp

Post by rob » Sat Jan 13, 2018 9:09 am

Depends on what you signed... most of the time you would have to have signed something that says your mega-corp owns any ip developed by you etc. SOME will let you do stuff after hours, some will not.
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livesoft
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Re: Consulting side gig while at mega corp

Post by livesoft » Sat Jan 13, 2018 9:16 am

Yes, mega corp needs to know about this. But it would be unusual that this was not stated in the employment agreement that you signed in order to work for mega corp. Maybe all those papers are a blur, so dig them out and re-read them, too.

This doesn't mean that you cannot have a side gig, but what that side gig is may be not be unlimited.
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cheesepep
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Re: Consulting side gig while at mega corp

Post by cheesepep » Sat Jan 13, 2018 9:45 am

No need to tell them unless you work for a competitive doing the same thing you do now or your company does. At least that is what I would do.

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Ethelred
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Re: Consulting side gig while at mega corp

Post by Ethelred » Sat Jan 13, 2018 10:03 am

You may struggle with this. It's pretty standard to have an employee agreement where you are expected to obtain permission from the employer either to do any other work, or any other work in the same industry. Depending on the employer, I would imagine that most will give permission if all of the following are true:
- The time taken for your additional work will not impact your work at megacorp
- The additional work is not for a competitor or potential competitor
- The additional work does not use proprietary knowledge from megacorp (i.e. knowledge only available from working for them, rather than the industry as a whole)

If you really don't have an employee agreement like that, you can go ahead, otherwise you'll need to ask permission through your boss. I'd suggest asking informally first.

I certainly wouldn't just do it and hope they don't find out. Not unless you want to run the risk of being fired from your day job.

adamthesmythe
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Re: Consulting side gig while at mega corp

Post by adamthesmythe » Sat Jan 13, 2018 2:00 pm

rob wrote:
Sat Jan 13, 2018 9:09 am
Depends on what you signed... most of the time you would have to have signed something that says your mega-corp owns any ip developed by you etc. SOME will let you do stuff after hours, some will not.
I expect this is addressed in those papers that you signed without reading very carefully.

Asking about side work might leave the impression that you are not totally committed to the company, and this doesn't look good for promotion.

Millennial
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Re: Consulting side gig while at mega corp

Post by Millennial » Sat Jan 13, 2018 2:13 pm

I've only had two jobs (neither at a megacorp), but this was clearly covered in the HR employee handbook at both.

No easy conclusion to draw, as the two are similar companies and the old one's policy is "never, under any circumstances" and the new one is "fine, as long as it is not for a competitor and you inform us."

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AndrewXnn
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Re: Consulting side gig while at mega corp

Post by AndrewXnn » Sat Jan 13, 2018 2:23 pm

I also work at mega corp and what you are thinking about concerns me.

Not saying that it won't be allowed, but then not enough information has
been supplied to determine if there is ethics problem with the situation or not.

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llama
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Re: Consulting side gig while at mega corp

Post by llama » Sat Jan 13, 2018 2:30 pm

My megacorp requires folks to submit some moonlighting paperwork if the consulting is in the same field as megacorp's business. From what I understand, these are rarely ever approved.

MathIsMyWayr
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Re: Consulting side gig while at mega corp

Post by MathIsMyWayr » Sat Jan 13, 2018 10:06 pm

If you are in the technical field, it is a bit straightforward; you are hired by your employer for the particular skill and experience you possess. While being employed, you need a written permission from your employer to work for others using that expertise. For example, if you are a chip designer at Apple, may you design electronics for Tesla? The answer is no, because you are using electrical engineering expertise for which Apple hired you. In a sense, that particular expertise belongs to your employer during full time employment. Can you run a pizza restaurant? Yes, as long as it does not affect fulfilling your full time employment. Can you play for San Francisco 49ers? OK. Can you do it during a lunch hour? No, lunch break is not really your free time.
The best advice is to find out where the boundary is and take a step back to be on the safe side.

KATNYC
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Re: Consulting side gig while at mega corp

Post by KATNYC » Mon Jan 15, 2018 2:52 am

regularguy455 wrote:
Sat Jan 13, 2018 9:07 am
I have a good, stable job at mega corp with about 5 years of experience there. I am about to be promoted and will likely get a 7-10% raise and will be eligible for a 5% bonus. I am also going to participate in a 3-4 year management development program starting sometime this year.

That said, one of my friends works as a consultant and asked if I was interested in helping. I could likely bill $150/hr and make around $7-$10k over a couple months. The project leverages my experience and would be relatively straight forward to do.

Do I need to inform mega corp about this? Do you think it’s a bad idea and not worth the risk? I’m looking for thoughts and opinions on if I should do this and/or how it should be done.
We sign a conflict form each year re any side business as well as any relatives that are involved in competitive businesses.
The basic response I get with 50% ownership in an unrelated business is a reminder that megacorp expects "full time best efforts" and their equipment (laptop/phone) cannot be used for the side business. I don't have an active role in the business, just ownership, so that has never been a problem. I've disclosed it since day one in addition to a sibling working for a competitor.

carolinaman
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Re: Consulting side gig while at mega corp

Post by carolinaman » Mon Jan 15, 2018 6:55 am

You definitely need to get permission from your company, regardless of whether it is stated in your employment agreement or not.
p. It sounds like you have a promising career with your company. I think some companies may interpret the request to moonlight negatively. You are getting decent raises and bonuses, and your company wants you to participate in a management development program. Now you want to do some moonlighting. If I were your management, I would be concerned the outside work would detract from your mega corp work and your management development training. This is just my take, but if you are seeking to stay at mega corp, I would pass on this outside work.

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ClevrChico
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Re: Consulting side gig while at mega corp

Post by ClevrChico » Mon Jan 15, 2018 8:31 am

Income from your consulting gig will be taxed at your highest marginal rate and be subject to self employment tax. If you're in a high tax state, it would be easy to pay around 50% effective tax on moonlighting income.

Do you have assets that need to be protected from a liability claim? Are you going to form some kind of corporation? Are you buying errors and omissions insurance?

Taxes and liability are two big items you need to consider if it's worth it. I've been down this road, and decided it's not worth it. A problem client can make your life painful. There is likely larger long-term monetary reward putting the extra effort into your day job.
Last edited by ClevrChico on Mon Jan 15, 2018 12:52 pm, edited 1 time in total.

whomever
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Re: Consulting side gig while at mega corp

Post by whomever » Mon Jan 15, 2018 11:24 am

My employer required either that they be informed or approved, I forget which. For me it was pretty low key - I told my boss 'So-n-so offered me $XXX an hour to do some consulting" and my boss said 'Lucky you'. This was software stuff which had no conflict of interest.

My guiding principle would be not to cause trouble at a job you like. I'd ask your boss what he thinks about it. Heck, I've done that for volunteer stuff, as in 'Hey, Boss, I'm thinking of volunteering as a soccer coach ... that would mean I have to leave at 5 sharp every Thursday for the next three months' or whatever.

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sunny_socal
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Re: Consulting side gig while at mega corp

Post by sunny_socal » Mon Jan 15, 2018 11:58 am

If I were single and had no family I would certainly go for it - and tell nothing to my employer. It's a 'hobby' as far as they are concerned.

But since I have a family and my time is valuable, I can't see spending evenings/weekends on a side gig even if it pays good money. I do my own house/car maintenance and landscaping, that's a good enough side gig for me :wink:

dbr
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Re: Consulting side gig while at mega corp

Post by dbr » Mon Jan 15, 2018 12:35 pm

If leverage your experience means you are a database designer and someone wants you to design databases, then you could be in big trouble. if leverage your experience means you are a database designer and an avid hunter and someone wants you to help them open a gunshop, then not so much.

Based on what you say I think you need to be very careful, starting with reading your employment agreements and assume until proven otherwise that this is not going to work. Also, whether or not your employer does not allow it, trying to service a contract while also holding down a demanding and promising salaried job sounds like a bad idea. You might be better advised to donate extra time and effort to advancing your real career. If you are looking for an out from your current job and the consulting seems an opportunity for a move, then you might investigate how it can be done.

miamivice
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Re: Consulting side gig while at mega corp

Post by miamivice » Mon Jan 15, 2018 12:38 pm

There is a lot of wrong information posted above.

Best (and most accurate) information is to check with your employer. Some will restrict you more than others. Bottom line though is that it is up to the mega corp as to how much freedom you have with your free time.

golfCaddy
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Re: Consulting side gig while at mega corp

Post by golfCaddy » Mon Jan 15, 2018 12:40 pm

Many companies large and small will have employees sign non-compete agreements. While an overly broad non-compete may not be legally enforceable, depending upon state law, an at will employee can be fired for any reason or no reason at all.

regularguy455
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Re: Consulting side gig while at mega corp

Post by regularguy455 » Mon Jan 15, 2018 12:51 pm

Thanks for all the thoughtful responses. From the way I wrote the original post, you can probably tell I am on the fence.

Regarding my leverage comment, the example given of a database designer creating databases for another company is not far off. Mega corp may have an issue with me doing this on the side.

The comment about liability and taxes was something I have not considered. The contract would likely be with another mega corp, so I would need to understand my exposure better. If this means creating an LLC or S Corp, it probably isn’t worth the effort.

I have been looking for my initial employment documents but cannot find them. I was forced to sign an non compete document and mega corp aggressively enforces them.

It doesn’t look like anyone thinks this is a great idea. It might have some marginal benefit if mega corp allows it, but there is are real career risks, tax liability, and legal exposure that make it even less attractive.

cherijoh
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Re: Consulting side gig while at mega corp

Post by cherijoh » Mon Jan 15, 2018 1:24 pm

cheesepep wrote:
Sat Jan 13, 2018 9:45 am
No need to tell them unless you work for a competitive doing the same thing you do now or your company does. At least that is what I would do.
A colleague at my former employer was doing a side gig and had not informed our employer. It was in the same industry although not for a direct competitor. We had all signed an "all IP belongs to company" agreement. I can't recall how the company got word of his side gig, but they did. The guy was given an opportunity to quit the side gig, but he said "H*ll no, you don't get to tell me what I can do in my off hours" and was fired and immediately walked out the door. :shock: I always thought he had a very high opinion of himself, so we did not keep in touch - but I occasionally wonder how that approach turned out for him.

My current megacorp employer requires you to run all outside employment past HR even if it is something totally unrelated such as seasonal employment at a retail store. I don't know whether this would be actively enforced for something trivial, but by making it all or nothing, the company has made its position very clear.

OP, I would recommend re-reading your employment agreement.

dbr
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Re: Consulting side gig while at mega corp

Post by dbr » Mon Jan 15, 2018 1:29 pm

cherijoh wrote:
Mon Jan 15, 2018 1:24 pm
cheesepep wrote:
Sat Jan 13, 2018 9:45 am
No need to tell them unless you work for a competitive doing the same thing you do now or your company does. At least that is what I would do.
A colleague at my former employer was doing a side gig and had not informed our employer. It was in the same industry although not for a direct competitor. We had all signed an "all IP belongs to company" agreement. I can't recall how the company got word of his side gig, but they did. The guy was given an opportunity to quit the side gig, but he said "H*ll no, you don't get to tell me what I can do in my off hours" and was fired and immediately walked out the door. :shock: I always thought he had a very high opinion of himself, so we did not keep in touch - but I occasionally wonder how that approach turned out for him.

My current megacorp employer requires you to run all outside employment past HR even if it is something totally unrelated such as seasonal employment at a retail store. I don't know whether this would actively enforced for something trivial, but by making it all or nothing, the company has made its position very clear.

OP, I would recommend re-reading your employment agreement.
The IP issue is a serious one as serving two masters creates a problem of who owns what for both employers that goes far beyond anything about the employee per se. Even the guy in my gunshop example could create a legal ambiguity in an IP area his first employer wants to avoid.

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dm200
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Re: Consulting side gig while at mega corp

Post by dm200 » Mon Jan 15, 2018 2:10 pm

My first employer out of college (for ten years) was a Mega Corp (one of the biggest of the big) and all outside employment had to be disclosed. Anything at all related to the job OR for/with any customer was absolutely prohibited.

You must disclose, in my opinion.

wfrobinette
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Re: Consulting side gig while at mega corp

Post by wfrobinette » Mon Jan 15, 2018 4:13 pm

cheesepep wrote:
Sat Jan 13, 2018 9:45 am
No need to tell them unless you work for a competitive doing the same thing you do now or your company does. At least that is what I would do.
Some companies have a specific no moonlighting clause if you are in certain roles.

ReadyOrNot
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Re: Consulting side gig while at mega corp

Post by ReadyOrNot » Mon Jan 15, 2018 4:42 pm

Most megacorps are big enough to have an HR and/or ethics department who can tell you what their requirements are if you can't find a copy of the agreements you signed. Asking for the general requirements needn't raise alarms. They must get inquiries all the time -- can you coach a high school team for pay, consult for your brother-in-law, must you disclose if brother-in-law works for a competitor or customer, etc.

123
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Re: Consulting side gig while at mega corp

Post by 123 » Mon Jan 15, 2018 4:55 pm

If you are paid on an hourly basis time off-the-clock is pretty much your own in most cases unless you do something in competition with megacorp or for a megacorp customer/vendor. If you, or they, think you're an exempt (non-hourly) well, then they own your soul.
The closest helping hand is at the end of your own arm.

whomever
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Re: Consulting side gig while at mega corp

Post by whomever » Mon Jan 15, 2018 7:10 pm

It doesn’t look like anyone thinks this is a great idea. It might have some marginal benefit if mega corp allows it, but there is are real career risks, tax liability, and legal exposure that make it even less attractive.
I think it depends on the details. The work I did was programming, in an area I was familiar with, on things that weren't remotely life/safety critical, so there wasn't much liability exposure. My employer didn't mind at all, so there wasn't any career risks. As for tax liabilities, unless the marginal rate is 100%...

In my case the customer had a specific need for work in an obscure area that I happened to know well. The result was going to save them big $$$, and they were thus willing to pay me a very high rate for it. We both considered it a win-win.

Only you know enough about your specific situation to gauge whether it's a good idea. One approach, if your company allows it at all, is to just price it where you're sure it will be a win for you, and let the customer decide whether that's a win for them or not.

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