I am an entrepreneur undergoing the “labor pains” of birthing a small business. I am also still employed full-time as an accountant. Should an entrepreneur let her employer know about her venture or should every effort be made to keep it under wraps? Should clients be informed that the business owner is not available for
meetings during business hours because she
–C. Wright-Thomas, Redford, Michigan
Many business owners start their ventures part-time while working full-time jobs (see “Straddling Both Worlds,” November 1999). There is no reason for you to inform your employer about your business unless it is affecting your job, says Rudy Lewis, president of the National Association of Home-Based Businesses in Owings Mills, Maryland. But if your business poses a conflict of interest with your job-that is, if you have the same clients-then you may have to come clean.
Also, you don’t have to inform clients of your employment situation. The most important thing is to be very professional. You are bound to lose credibility with your customers if you detail your work dilemmas. Simply and clearly communicate to them the hours you have set to speak or meet with them, whether it’s before your workday starts or during the evening or weekends.
Mail your small business questions to What’s Your Problem?, black enterprise, 130 Fifth Ave., 10th Floor, New York, NY 10011, or send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.