Disclaimer: I am not seeking legal advice re: contract in clause. Merely explaining the contract and asking for suggestions on how to negotiate with Employer.

So, I have just verbally accepted an offer of employment and now reviewing contract. There is a clause which disallows me from doing any kind of sideline business.

Over the past few months I have developed a business which I anticipate to be very profitable and due to heavy automation it will not take up too much of my time. I envisage that I will be able to generate a 30k+ profit (pretty tax) per year in the next 12-18 months.

I am disheartened that if I take this new job I won't be able to continue the business. As a side note. The sideline is acruelly part of my hobby in software development which is also my profession. If it didn't involve business there would be no problem :(

So how should I approach this with my potential new employer. I am think about saying that I thought I would be able to continue the business and generate finance. As a result of the contract I will be at a loss. I would like my Base to be slightly increased. Also it is worth noting that I think the initial offer of salary was kind of low due to my bad management of negotiation. I think there is extra scope for salary on the employer side.

What is an advisable way to approach this with?


  • @JoeStrazzere Any good contract will include "engage".
    – paparazzo
    Feb 27, 2016 at 23:32
  • If they won't accept a specific defined exception that does not compete then walk. They put in general terms for general protection.
    – paparazzo
    Feb 27, 2016 at 23:35
  • @JoeStrazzere Correct we don't know. I said good contact. That is basic enough the most of them get that right. Since you have not seen the contract you don't know that putting the business in the wife's name would be a valid remedy.
    – paparazzo
    Feb 27, 2016 at 23:39
  • @JoeStrazzere Fair enough
    – paparazzo
    Feb 27, 2016 at 23:41
  • Thanks guys, clarification. It does say engage in business.
    – jim
    Feb 28, 2016 at 0:06

2 Answers 2


Tell the employer that the issue exists. They may be willing to wtite a specific exception into the contract. If so, you would be well advised to have your own lawyer review and negotiate the detals o=of that language, to make sure it says what you need it to say -- the company's lawyers, even if they're trying to help you, are obligated to look after the company's interests above all else.

When I signed, I made sure that the contract recognized that I had prior involvement in an invention and that work on that invention would not be forbidden, nor would it belong to my new employer. It helped that the idea was outside my employer's areas of interestso there wasn't much risk of conflict of interest... but they were perfectly prepared to handle this.

Ask. It can probably be worked out.

If not, and if this is a sine qua non for you, thank them for their interest and go back to job hunting. Not an outcome anyone likes, but it happens.


Two of my businesses are still under my wifes name because of this issue years ago, this would be the ideal solution assuming that you both trust your wife, and actually have a wife.

It negates the need to try and explain things to your boss which quite frankly come across to me as just trying to negotiate more money and I'd be sceptical and unhappy because this didn't come out in interviews. Going through all the proving etc,. would just annoy me to have to go through with a new staff member who I had already thought I'd finished negotiating with.

  • I see. I don't have a wife.. And I don't think negotiation is finished yet since the contract hasn't been signed and I haven't started work. I verbally accepted the terms laid out over phone but not the finer details as I hadn't seen them. Thanks.
    – jim
    Feb 28, 2016 at 0:08
  • 1
    I don't suppose you'd consider hurriedly getting married? I see now that my answer is not much use to you, I'll leave it up though, it may help someone else.
    – Kilisi
    Feb 28, 2016 at 0:10
  • ummmm ... I'd check with an attorney over that arrangement. If it the attorney says it sounds legit, I'd hire a second attorney.
    – jimm101
    Feb 28, 2016 at 15:13
  • 1
    @Kilisi Get married hurriedly to save $30K gross income.. no way that could go bad. ;-) Feb 29, 2016 at 4:02

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