213: How to Avoid a Conflict of Interest Between Your Side Hustle and Your Day Job

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Possessing creative powers beyond those of mere mortals, Don “The Idea Guy” is back to help talk through a common but tricky situation side hustlers run into.

You might remember Don from episode 170 of the show, where he gave us his 7 rules for business idea brainstorming and took a few live listener calls as well.

This week I invited Don back to help wrestle with the dreaded “conflict of interest” that might arise between your day job and your side hustle.

Inspired by an email from someone in the Side Hustle Nation Community, Don offers some suggestions on how to deal with this at your place of work. He covers how you can test ideas in your day job within a lower risk environment, and perhaps even leverage a raise from your boss based on the results.

Tune in to hear what options you have if your side hustle overlaps a little too closely with your day job.

It’s a little bit of a different style of episode, so I’m curious to hear what you think? Would you like to hear more of this “talk show” style show? Or should I stick with the regular interview format?

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  • Don’s tips on how to come up with new ideas.
  • How to approach management with ideas you think can generate more value.
  • The steps to help you put ideas into action.
  • How to adapt your concept to different industries.
  • Why you should be aware of non-compete clauses.
  • How to ethically handle the balance between work clients and side hustle clients.
  • How to avoid conflict of interest between your work and side Hustle.
  • Don’s creativity tip of the week for Side Hustle Nation.


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Nick Loper

About the Author

Nick Loper is a side hustle expert who loves helping people earn more money and start businesses they care about. He hosts the award-winning Side Hustle Show, where he's interviewed over 500 successful entrepreneurs, and is the bestselling author of Buy Buttons, The Side Hustle, and $1,000 100 Ways.

His work has been featured in The New York Times, Entrepreneur, Forbes, TIME, Newsweek, Business Insider, MSN, Yahoo Finance, The Los Angeles Times, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Financial Times, Bankrate, Hubspot, Ahrefs, Shopify, Investopedia, VICE, Vox, Mashable, ChooseFI, Bigger Pockets, The Penny Hoarder, GoBankingRates, and more.

4 thoughts on “213: How to Avoid a Conflict of Interest Between Your Side Hustle and Your Day Job”

  1. I was going to say that he needs to stop telling his company all the good ideas he is having especially if they keep dismissing them. Take those ideas home and write them down. I wonder what the rule is if you are on your 30 minute unpaid lunch and come up with an idea??

  2. I want stress again that opinions stated in the interview were based on past personal experience and my (limited) knowledge on the topic. My strategy in dealing with potential conflict of interest is to avoid it completely. My fall-back strategy is to be 100% transparent with an employer and address concerns upfront, rather than dealing with any hard feelings that inevitably come from being discovered in the future. If someone is adamant about working a side hustle which possibly conflicts with their full-time job, they should consult an attorney who specializes in Intellectual Property law. I know two or three IP attorneys, so if anyone needs a referral I would be happy to pass their names along. Send me a request via my website or private message me on social media.

  3. I thought it might be valuable to share my experience. I previously ran a successful marketplace for a very large company. The products in the marketplace were primarily things that extended our own platform offerings, things we were unable or unwilling to pursue ourselves.

    We had a few employees who had built their own offerings within the marketplace, and they had started generating reasonable revenue when we became aware of some problems. It started with teammates making cheap remarks about what people were really focussed on and where their priorities were. I was very much in favor of supporting the efforts so started asking around at other companies who’d allowed similar things.

    I was universally told it was a bad idea.

    The team impacts we’d seen were likely just the tip of the iceberg. They grow over time as people who work hard for the company feel dejected as those around them see a multiplier effect on their returns from their products. Those that are going above and beyond for the company don’t have the time or energy to spend on their own things. Then it starts eroding trust. Is all the information being shared? Or are the sales team holding things back so they can execute themselves? Do various people have positional advantage for their own personal gains? Are products run by employees given priority over those in the broader marketplace? Are the sales team over selling products they’re involved with?

    Ultimately it all boiled down to “conflict” not being something the company could objectively measure. It was a matter of external perspective. If our customers or partners thought we were engaging in conflicts of interest we’d lost their trust.

    And so whatever upside there may have been it simply wasn’t worth the risk.

  4. So, I started working for a contract company doing food service and have a side business doing janitorial services that I do in my personal time. I had a retail manager look my company up and sent it a picture of me to her boss. Her boss sent it to human resources for conflict of interest. Is this conflict of interest for my business that I opened in 2002.? I started working for this company in 2011. I have certifications before I started working for this company. I have know cleaning training that was completed with this company.


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