Should You Tell Your Boss You're Starting a Business?

Q: Should employees tell their bosses they want to start a business? Why or why not?

The following answers are provided by The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world's most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, the YEC recently launched#StartupLab, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses via live video chats, an expert content library and email lessons.

1. Maybe -- Does Your Company Culture Support Innovation?

Caitlin McCabeSome companies, like 3M, give their employees time during the day to work on their own projects and more and more are developing "intrapreneurship" programs. If your company doesn't have anything like that, perhaps it's something you could start at your workplace. If starting a business is on your agenda, being transparent at least a few months in advance can avoid an ugly exit from your job.
Caitlin McCabeReal Bullets Branding

2. Find Your First Angels

Neil ThanedarGreat companies create the next generation of entrepreneurs. If you've got a boss that you look up to, approach him about your big goals and thank him for his mentorship. I've heard a number of startup stories that began with an executive in a large corporation investing in a successful startup launched by a former employee.
Neil ThanedarLabDoor

3. Avoid Competition and Secrets

Doug BendOnce your business gets traction, your employer is going to find out and will be much more upset if you tried to hide it. Instead, strategically start a business that is not going to be in competition with your employer. By doing so and being honest about your plans, you are more likely to not only not get fired or sued but also perhaps even gain their cooperation and support.

Doug BendBend Law Group, PC

4. Put Your Ambition on Display

Robert-J.-MooreWe ask all of our prospective employees if their long-term goals include starting their own companies. To us, saying yes indicates a certain level of ambition and demonstrates that the employee will have a vested interest in learning as much as possible in his role. We don't expect anyone to stay with us forever -- what we want to do is work with people when they are at their hungriest.
Robert J. MooreRJMetrics

5. Take the Leap If You're Really Serious

Matt WilsonIf you’re serious about starting the business, go ahead and tell your boss, but you might have to start your business sooner than you planned if you aren’t careful. You could easily be let go if your boss thinks you’re planning your escape.
Matt WilsonUnder30Media

6. Launch Side Projects

Abby RossWhen hiring, we tend to look for people who are inherently entrepreneurial, which sometimes comes with the risk that they want to start their own businesses. Creating an environment of innovation and collaboration is more important. We have some employees with side projects, and we encourage them to share with the team by hosting a lunch and learn.
Abby RossBlueye Creative

7. Consider Whether Your Boss Hires Entrepreneurs

Yosef MartinI know it's not politically correct to say no, but I would still say it. In general, when I choose people, I'm looking for different personalities based on the positions in question. None of those personality types include the entrepreneur.
Yosef MartinMerchandize Liquidators

8. Consider Whether You're a Vital Asset

Daniel PirestaniThis depends on the size and culture of the company and boss. Bosses in larger companies tend not to freak out in the way that founders of startups would. At small companies, especially, each employee is considered a vital asset in possession of intimate company information.
Daniel PirestaniInDemand Interpreting

9. Establish an Open Relationship

Felix LluberesIt boils down to the relationship the employer and the employee have established. If you are in a company with a very open culture and you know telling them will only lead to their encouragement to move forward with your business idea, I would absolutely tell them. Who knows? You might find yourself actually working on the idea of your new business with the help of your current employer.
Felix LluberesPosition Logic

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