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I would like to set up a business in my spare time where I would make simple database software for small businesses - I'm currently employed full time where part of my role involves this already, though for a manufacturing business so I don't think it would be a conflict of interest.

My concerns are that I remember when I started this job there was some sort of declaration signed/box ticked where I said 'I do not work for another company', though I can't find it in my contract.

Would doing something like this cause any problems with my full time job? I have no intention of eventually leaving to pursue my project full time at the minute and plan to communicate that to my manager, as well as making it clear that I understand not to work on my project during work hours. My understanding is that they will find out anyway with tax or something (?) so my current thinking is to just mention it before I start. Could you advise the best way to go about this?

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    Please check your employment contract for rules on 'moonlighting' and intellectual property. Some employment contracts specifically state that during employment any work produced is theirs. – bobo2000 Feb 22 '17 at 12:18
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    If you think you can't ask your boss or HR, the answer is most likely "yes". – gnasher729 Feb 22 '17 at 14:06
  • There's a degree to which this is company- and contract-specific, but there's a degree to which it definitely isn't. Laws vary about this, and an illegal contract is non-binding (at least in the U.S.). So, your employer can write whatever they want ("you have to kill anyone who makes the CEO frown"), but that doesn't mean you need to care. I'd reask this on Law SE. Be aware they will need to know what country and state you're in. – Parthian Shot Feb 23 '17 at 1:32
  • There may also already be questions on noncompete agreements on there, so search around a little bit first. Anyway, here's the link. – Parthian Shot Feb 23 '17 at 1:32
  • "I can't find it in my contract. " - 1) be more careful in future, with important documents (is there any chance that you received a copy by email?) 2) what's stopping you asking for a copy? – Mawg says reinstate Monica Nov 22 '18 at 8:16
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Would doing something like this cause any problems with my full time job?

Possibly. You will need to check your contract to ensure it hasn't got a clause about moonlighting. You will absolutely have to make sure you never use your work time or kit, including that nice little MS office deal that you may have got...

Could you advise the best way to go about this?

Freelance. Come on over to freelancing for more specific advice. The 2 main sites for freelancing are Upwork and Freelancer. I will tell you, your niche is quite saturated right now.

My concerns are that I remember when I started this job there was some sort of declaration signed/box ticked where I said 'I do not work for another company', though I can't find it in my contract.

This was on your P46 (new starter) form for HMRC, a tax declaration to ensure your employer uses the correct tax code in absence of a P45.

  • Ah I see, this is my first proper job so its the only time I've ever come across a P46. Freelance websites didn't occur to me but that seems like a really good option actually. Would I still need to register as being self employed if I joined those sites? – Adam44 Feb 22 '17 at 14:01
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    Maybe, depending on how much you earn. You will need to declare it though, details here – JohnHC Feb 22 '17 at 14:22
  • No offence, but someone who wants to "make simple database software for small businesses" is likely to have difficulties with freelance websites, unless they are very creative. I am an embedded coder who does database & web stuff in my free time. No problems with the technical side, but my sites look atrocious (despite help from ux.stackexchange.com). There's a lot more to it than knowing HTML & CSS. – Mawg says reinstate Monica Nov 22 '18 at 8:25
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    Good luck, but look for a project that interests you & one that you can sell often, not just a commission for every website. That can’t scale, as you have only a limited number of hours. A good app or project can scale. What I have done is find a business partner with domain knowledge & contacts, who has conceived an app but can’t afford to pay £50k or more to have it developed. I code “for free”, then he markets & we split 50-50. – Mawg says reinstate Monica Nov 22 '18 at 8:25
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The answer to this is "it depends".

It depends on any sort of employment agreement you may have signed, or any clauses in the employee handbook ( Which you probably signed that you read and understood ).

If you signed a non-compete or non-disclosure, this could hamper your efforts as well.

In summary, what did you agree to when you took the job?

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Just saying: Your company won't figure out through taxes. Most likely your company pays tax as if you were employed by them only. That's fine. If you make money elsewhere, for example through your own company, that company will know that they are not the only employer, so they will pay at an extra high tax rate to make sure you are not underpaying taxes. Or if you are self employed, you just fill out your tax return, with the numbers from your P45, adding what you made as a self employed person.

The problems are: Is it in your employment contract that you can't work elsewhere? In that case, there is trouble ahead. Will you be more tired when you go to work and less productive? That might cause trouble. Full time job plus another job is hard.

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