Telling your friends you’re going freelance is cause for celebration. However, breaking the news to your boss is quite a different affair. Will they take it well and be happy for your personal development? Or will they rue the day they hired you, and do everything in their power to make the process as difficult as possible?
This depends on the kind of business you work for, but one thing’s for sure – you have to tell them. Sweeping it under the rug for as long as possible might sound desirable, but if it’s not you who airs it the office gossip might let it slip, and you’ll be in more bother than you should be.
Avoid any awkward confessions to your boss by following these five simple steps.
Keep Some Things to Yourself
If your plans are to become a full-time freelancer after dipping your toes in the water, don’t give away all your secrets. Tell your boss that you’re doing some freelance work on the side and explain how it won’t interfere with your current position.
They’ll most likely be happy for you. Not revealing your long term plans is a win-win for everyone. Your boss knows about your extra work and you don’t have to feel guilty for keeping secrets (well, not many).
It can be tempting to avoid telling your boss because it’s not interfering with your current position. However, it’s better to play it safe instead of risk losing your job. The company may find it bad conduct to keep quiet about extra work, so be upfront from the start.
Check Your Contract
There’s a difference between bad conduct and unacceptable behaviour. Before you let anything slip, check your contract thoroughly for any terms and conditions that might affect your decision to become a full-time freelancer.
Generally there shouldn’t be a problem as you won’t be working for competition, but again, it’s always better to check. If your current employer has a HR department you can also run the idea by them to see if they think there’s going to be a problem.
Another thing to check is your notice period. This will also affect how long it will take you to become and freelancer full-time. As long as you factor this in to your business plan, you’ll be able to make the transition smoothly.
Keep Work at Work
One of the main worries employers could have is that your freelance work is going to affect your day-to-day work. When explaining your freelance ‘bit on the side’ clarify your intentions when it comes to everyday tasks.
You need to make it clear that your freelance work won’t impose on your job, and will be completed outside of work hours only. Some bosses might allow you to do your freelance work on breaks or during slow periods, so don’t assume it’s going to be all doom and gloom.
When you know you’re leaving a position, you’re in danger of slacking. Avoid this by putting extra effort into your job. You’ll keep your bosses happy and will be able to leave on a good note and with the promise of a great reference!
Don’t Poach Clients
It’s one thing to leave your current employer in favour of becoming a freelancer, it’s another to take their clients with you. Poaching clients is a definite faux-pas when spreading your freelance wings. If you want a good reputation, you’ll know better and leave them well alone.
If you’ve built a relationship with a client who actively pursues you in your new role, speak to your boss. They might not be happy about it but if the client insists they want to continue working with you, then they should be more understanding.
If they don’t you could have a fight on your hands, so be willing to let anything go that might seem like too much hassle for the amount of money you’ll be getting.
Reveal the Full Story When You’re Ready
Once you’ve been working as an employee and a freelancer for a while, make the leap. Feeling fully ready might never happen, so take the plunge and see what happens.
Finances will be your number one concern from day one and although you might be terrified of losing your stable nine to five job, there’s probably a bigger reason that made you decide to go freelance.
Don’t panic about explaining your wishes to your employers. By this time your company will be used to the idea of you being freelance and might even be interested in hiring you rather than filling your old position – anything’s possible!
Have you recently told your boss about your freelance business plans? Or are you still building up the courage? Leave us a comment below!
Want to learn more?
Subscribe to our newsletter to get accounting tips like this right to your inbox
About The Author
We work very closely with our expert accountants to bring you the latest factually correct tax and accounting news. We also enjoy writing about small business news that we hope you find useful!