Employees · Engineers

Can I land a day job if companies know that I’m working on a startup?

Gurpreet singh Operations Project Manager at Code brew Labs

May 17th, 2017

I need to get back to working close to full-time during the week in order to self-fund some of the initial development of my app. Inevitably in a job interview you will be asked about what you’re passionate about and what you do with your free time. I want to tell them that I’ve been working on a startup for about a year now and I’m a tireless worker both on my project and my full-time work. I think this is a positive but I can see how they could view it as a distraction and a reason for me to leave. Should I even disclose this? If so, how do I sell it?

Brad Haydon Founder and CEO of Lovebird.io

May 17th, 2017

You could possibly sell it as a pet project to keep your skills sharp. This answer would show that you are passionate about what you do, but doesn't illustrate just how serious about the project you are.

Robyn Tippins

May 17th, 2017

I would like to know the answer to this as well. I own a marketing agency and have hired well, so I am pretty much unnecessary now. I really only manage payroll (2-3 hrs a month). I am looking for a new challenge, but as soon as I say that I own another company people don't seem interested. I have good experience, with over 20 years of community management and marketing, having worked at yahoo and Current TV and through my agency worked with Intel, HP, Cisco, Mozilla, Facebook and a bunch more large and small companies, but I think the fact that I own a company must be a turn off. I'd love to hear some strategies in how to make my situation less scary for employers.

Mark Temperley ex-X Commerce finance, ex-management consultant

May 22nd, 2017

There is no "right answer" to this. At eBay people were encouraged to start their own business (selling on eBay....). From an employer's point of view they don't want you to get distracted and start running your own business as well as their's. I think the best is to mention that you were involved in the start up and retain an interests as a shareholder. You occasionally consult as and when needed.

Keeano Martin Chief Technology Officer

May 18th, 2017

In a situation like this, which i am currently in myself. I do a lot of freelance work so i can manage my hours more correctly.

K. Robbins Head Moose at Moose WorldWide Digital

May 17th, 2017

Big companies, say nothing, and don't mention it to your co workers either. Small to medium sized companies it entirely depends on the owner.

Generally if it doesn't conflict with the line of business they are in it's OK. For example, I have a senior PM who is an accomplished DJ, and we are happy to support his passion. On the other hand if a developer announced they were building their own eCommerce site, I would not be so supportive.


ritee rouf Seeking tech co-founder interested in visual storytelling

May 18th, 2017

I am in a similar situation - funding my project out of pocket. I have a prototype now, but still need to validate product market fit - get user feedback. I recently interviewed with a startup and told them about my project. They were actually impressed that I am passionate about something. I did tell them that this is a side project. You can spin it as "I started a project and learnt some valuable skills from it that I can apply to your organization"... Startups need people with various skill sets.

Andrew Reiner Chief Operating Officer at SeatServe

May 18th, 2017

I would definitely NOT mention that you want this full-time job to fund your own app/company.

You can craft a decent story out of this, but you will inevitably be asked "why didn't your startup work/what did you learn from it?" and your answer cannot be "it will work I just need x and y for it to happen."

Freelancing could be an alternative solution for you. If you need more stability that a company offers it probably makes more sense for you to just not mention your startup as it will more likely than not hurt your candidacy for a bunch of reasons.

Andrew Chapman Publishing Entrepreneur and Author

Last updated on May 18th, 2017

I've been in this situation a number of times, and the odds are against getting hired if you tell them. The best you can do is downplay it as nothing more than a fun side project or hope to find an understanding employer. From my perspective, you aren't required to say anything unless directly asked or the company explicitly forbids this. Otherwise, "don't ask, don't tell" is probably the best course of action.

The challenge, however, is that it's very difficult to have a viable side venture without it being easy to discover online. How can anyone make a serious effort at a business without a LinkedIn profile or other social-media presence? Even a business website can be challenging since visitors want to know who's behind it, which then puts your name in search engines with the business. And of course, many employers research prospective employees by doing what? Going to their social-media accounts. Some employers even ask for your profile names (triggering legal action in some states).

The middle-road possibility would be seeking employers who might want to ultimately buy/license your app and become an intrapreneur, working on your app at their company. But as someone else pointed out, this would require some good legal advice to set up a favorable arrangement up front.

The Internet has made starting a business easier than it's ever been, but it's made running anything significant on the side of a regular job a lot harder.

Abhinab Mitra --

May 19th, 2017

What you do after 5PM is none of their business.

George Michalelis A mechanical engineer with business experience

Last updated on May 18th, 2017

This is a complex question that depends on your local culture and you probably need to ask a lawyer.

First of all, you should keep in mind that there are many companies that do not want employees with entrepreneurial mindsets. The main reason you hire a full-time employee is because you want to satisfy a permanent need within your company. As a result, you want someone who does not want to start his own business any time soon (let alone already own one).

Second, put yourself in your potential recruiter's shoes. Would you hire an employee who has his own company? I certainly wouldn't! What if his company started losing money? Do you think he would remain productive at your company?

Of course not all employers understand the problems associated with hiring a business owner as their employee so you may get "lucky".

However, keep in mind that there are also the issues regarding non-compete clauses and product ownership for which you need to ask a lawyer.

In my opinion, if you have a registered company and IF your main goal is to raise finance without taking on debt or giving equity, then your best bet is to offer your services as a freelancer or to find a completely unrelated and probably low level job. If you don't have a registered company already just get any job, save money and keep working on your project at your own time and place until you gather your required capital. Then you can incorporate and start selling. That's how most people do it anyway.

P.S. Business mentality is the complete opposite of employee mentality. You can't be both at the same time. Give it enough time and you will burn out.