How to Play the Corporate Game and Launch a Business Simultaneously

How to Play the Corporate Game and Launch a Business Simultaneously

Editor’s note: This is a guest post from Jennifer Blanchard from jenniferblanchard.net.

(WARNING: The blog post you’re about to read is borderline unethical. Sort of. It depends on your view of ethics when it comes to working a job that makes you feel dead inside. Reader discretion is advised.)

“Full-time” in the work world is defined as working 40 hours or more. Too bad most full-time jobs don’t actually take 40 hours to complete. This is especially true when you work in an office environment.

Think about how many times you’ve completed your work for the day, but had to sit in your cube twiddling your thumbs because you still had three required hours left in your work day.

There you sit, wasting away, when you could be doing something productive to move along your side business so that eventually you can quit this unfulfilling job and finally do something that matters.

But it would be wrong to work on side business stuff when you’re at your day job, wouldn’t it?

That’s up to you to decide.

Why You Should Consider Working on Your Passion Business While at Your Day Job

When you work in an office environment, how well you do your job is based largely on “presenteeism,” or what’s also known as coming in early, staying late, always being at your desk, always looking busy.

And the most annoying part is that you’re required to work 8-5, which eats up all of your best hours for the day. When you get home at 6 p.m. after a long commute and a stressful day at the office, you’re not exactly in the mood to put in effort on your business, are you?

Problem is, if you don’t, you’ll never get out of that shitty day job and finally do something meaningful with your career. So you force yourself to work on your business here and there throughout the week.

But it bums you out that you write better in the morning and yet you’re forcing yourself to do it at 10 p.m. It bums you out even more that you’re still working a job that makes you feel empty. Sure, you could find another job, but eventually you’d feel the same way again.

It’s time for you to escape from the workforce to do the work you love. But it takes a lot more than a desire to get paid to be you to actually launch a business and quit your day job. It takes guts. It takes the willingness to risk everything.

It takes creativity with your time.

Planning An Escape Route

Once I’d had enough with working a job that didn’t fulfill me, I tuned it out. I became a “corporate robot”; I came in, did the job I was paid to do, sat there for 8 hours and went home.

Then, when I got home at night I’d spend two to three hours working on my side business, blogging, building connections, writing, planning and dreaming. But it just wasn’t enough.

So one morning I’m sitting in my cube, finishing up my work for the week, when I realize it’s only Wednesday and I still have two more days of work. An idea hits me.

Why not take this extra time and, rather than wasting it on Facebook or reading celebrity gossip, instead work on my business? If I did this every time I completed my work for the week, I could move up my “quit my day job” timeline by a couple years.

And I mean, it’s not like I was doing a bad job or anything. I was legitimately doing all that I was asked to do and being successful at it. So I figured the leftover time was mine.

I launched my first blog in the comfort of my living room, but I grew it from zero visits a month to more than 5,000 visits a month in one year by writing and publishing three blog posts a week while I was at my day job.

This proves two points:

  1. Work isn’t about 40 hours a week/8 hours a day, it’s about the results you produce. I was legitimately doing an awesome job at my day job and also successfully running a growing side business.
  2. Creativity will get you everywhere. Being creative with my time allowed me to be successful at both my day job and my side business.

Thanks to some clever (albeit semi-unethical) time creativity, I finally quit my day job and am now working for myself. (Oh, and Trailblazer had a lot to do with it, too.)

If you’re like I was and are still stuck in a day job that doesn’t fulfill you, here are some tips to help you use your time better, as well as some tips for how to work on your business while you’re at the office.

The faster you can build your side business up, the faster it can become your full-time business.

And the faster you can quit your day job.

The Game Plan

The corporate world is a game of perception. Look busy. Come in early, stay late. Dress appropriately.

As long as you work your “required” 40 hours a week, you’re good. Some people will spend their lives doing this, but not you. You want to escape.

Here’s how you can use this perception to your advantage to work on your side business while you also work your day job. You just need to take the following steps:

1. Figure out how much time you need to get your work done and still do a good job.

Like I said above, work should be about the results you produce and not about face time at the office. But since that’s not the case in most workplaces, you have to get creative with your time.

First off, figure out how much time you actually need in a week to do your job well. Use a timer to see how long it takes you to get all your work done.

Once you’ve done this for a few weeks, you’ll know exactly how many hours you need to complete work for your day job, and how many hours you have to spare. (These are the hours you would usually use surfing the web or playing around on your iPhone.)

2. Decide which days of the week will be designated “day job” days and which days you’ll use to work on your business.

Or, you can do what I did and split your work days. For me, mornings were always dedicated to side business-related tasks and activities, and afternoons were for doing the work I was being paid to sit there and do.

If, for example, your time experiment from step one finds you with five hours of available time, you can split it out and do one hour of work on your business each day. You can also save them up and do all five hours on, say, Friday afternoon when the bosses have snick out for the weekend, but everyone else has to be there ‘til 5 p.m.

3. Use the super-secret work tips in the section below to figure out the best way to accomplish the work you need to do for your business.

If you want to make this work, you will have to balance playing the game with sneaking in some time for your business. These tips below will help you do that.

13 Super-Secret Work Tips

The following tips will give you some ideas on how to work on your business while appearing to be doing your day job work (because remember, perception is what matters).

I will preface this by saying some of these tips could possibly get you fired or at least reprimanded if you get caught. It’s up to you to draw the line and decide which of these tips you can handle while maintaining your workload.

Tip #1: Always have something work-related open on your desktop at all times.

This makes it easy to pull up your work documents when you have to appear to be working.

Tip #2: Always look like you’re working.

Even if you’re working on a blog post for your new blog, you want to seem like you’re working hard at your day job. If you need a break, don’t take it at your desk. Get up and walk away.

Tip #3: Do any writing for your side-business within your day job work documents.

This way if your boss comes by your desk, it legitimately looks like you are doing the work you’re supposed to be doing. This was my process:

  • Open a day job document (for example, copy I was writing for the new company website)
  • Click my cursor somewhere in the middle of a paragraph of web copy
  • Start writing what I needed to write for my side business (blog posts, email newsletters, copy, whatever)

When I was finished, I’d copy/cut the text out and paste it into another Word doc. Then I’d save it on my Dropbox or I’d email it to myself.

Tip #4: Try not to close your web browser window or documents when you see your boss coming over.

Closing down screens when your boss comes by will make it look like you’re doing something you shouldn’t be.

If anything, just open something else up from your minimized bar with actual work on it. That way it just looks like you’re working between two documents versus trying to hide something.

Tip #5: Keep all your day job work spread out on the desk around you.

This will ensure you always have something to grab for and pretend to be doing when someone stops by your cube to talk, ask you a dumb question or just waste your time in general.

Tip #6: Play the game well in meetings.

When you’re in work meetings, be sure to offer up ideas and suggestions, and be engaged in what’s being discussed so it looks like you really care.

Part of succeeding at this game is to always be professional and always look like you really care about your job.

Tip #7: Use your lunch breaks.

Pack your food and use your lunch break to work on your business. It’s a great time because no one will be paying attention to what you’re doing, since they’re on lunch too.

And if someone does say something to you, you just point out that you’re on your lunch break.

Tip #8: Know your boss’s schedule.

Keep track of when your boss(es) will be out of the office/out of town on business or pleasure. These are the best times to step up work on your business because no one will be around to watch over your shoulder.

Tip #9: Use a half-screen browser window for side business stuff.

Always use two browser windows: keep one window day job work-related and the other one side-business related. But keep the side business window half the size of the other so you can center it in front of you on your desktop screen so no one behind you can see it.

Tip #10: Get a small rear-view mirror and install it on your monitor.

If anyone asks, tell them you get startled easily so you like to see when someone is coming up behind you. You can find little sticky-back mirrors at any auto parts store.

Tip #11: Shift your work hours.

If you can, work a schedule that allows you to be at the office early, when no one is there yet. This gives you optimal business work time. Best of all, no one will be around to bother you and everyone will think you’re a hard worker because you come in early.

If you can’t shift your work hours, you can always work overtime (if you’re a salaried employee). Come in early or stay late and use that time to work on your business.

Tip #12: Dress to impress.

Stick to the company dress code. Follow it perfectly. Never give yourself a reason to stand out in a negative way.

Tip #13: Conference rooms are your friend.

Whenever you can, slip away to a conference room to get your work done. This makes it easier to work on business-related stuff without anyone seeing you. If anyone asks, you can say you get too distracted to work because of the noise around your cubicle.

One Final Rule

My number one rule for playing the corporate game and launching a business is always this:

Do what’s expected of you, plus a tad more, and you’re good.

Q: What tips do you have for working on your business while at your day job?

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Special note from Cedric: Jennifer Blanchard is one of our star members in Trailblazer. You can find her at http://jenniferblanchard.net/, where she helps creative entrepreneurs nourish the core source of their creativity—themselves—so they can become unstoppable creative beings. I highly suggest that you go here right now and subscribe to her blog. You won’t regret it.

photo courtesy of Sam W.

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94 Comments on "How to Play the Corporate Game and Launch a Business Simultaneously"

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Linda Esposito
Guest

Controversial topic, yes, but the message was respectfully anti-corporate.

I’m still laughing at #10–that is so cute. I thought I’d heard of every trick in the get-me-outta-the9-5-grind, but the rear view mirror takes the corporate cake.

I have two tips to add:

1. Rock the social skills, and remember trivial details about your co-workers and boss’ lives. People eat that up, and
2. Bring pastries or other comfort food.

Not that I speak from experience, or anything :).

Congrats on leaving your shitty day job, Jennifer.

jennifer blanchard
Guest

Linda–everyone I used to work with always loved that I had a rearview mirror! I got the idea from this old guy I once worked with who said he used it to make sure the boss wasn’t coming. But I just told people I got startled easily :-)

Bruno Coelho
Guest
This was EXACTLY what I was looking for NOW! I’m also on a job escape plan trying to achieve 3 things at the same time: 1) do a good job at my day-job; 2) Finish my Master Thesis in Management (this year); 3) Launch The Rabbit Way. All this while making time to be with those I love (my wife and the rest of the family)… Lately, things are getting tougher. There are no down times on the projects that I’m involved with so… it’s getting harder and harder to do what Harvey Mackay’s best seller book described as “swim… Read more »
jennifer blanchard
Guest

My advice on recovering from tough projects and continuing to blaze your trail is this–take a break. A serious break. Maybe for a few days, maybe for a week. Take as long of a break as you need to recoup and be back to your full potential again. BUT don’t take your focus off what’s really important, blazing your trail.

Vince
Guest

Definitely agree. The key I’ll add is to not beat yourself up over it. A couple day break from your side gig to let the system refresh is sometimes the best thing you can do for yourself. Thanks for the article I feel like there are soooo many of us in this position. Well timed and thorough.

Amanda
Guest

Hah! This is exactly how I got through my days at my software job — find other things (like writing my novel) to keep me interested, since my “Real Work” only took me a fraction of the day to complete. Unethical? Ah well. Maybe my former work environment should have adopted a more ROWE approach.

jennifer blanchard
Guest

Go ROWE!! It’s nice to see there are other people who know what that is and support it.

Mike Sherry
Guest

I did a whole consulting project for a new SaaS company, and they ATE the whole ROWE (Results Only Work Environment) thing right outta my hand!

Seems like a no-brainer, for high-performing, self-driven people.

TJ
Guest
Manipulative – but great post Jonathan! I am currently in the process of searching for jobs. I want to continue working on developing my blog, so I am now considering taking an office job, haha. I worked an office job in the past and always had plenty of time for surfing the web so I know exactly what you are talking about. Hell, I even had a software program installed that would flip my monitor screen by hitting a combination of buttons! I am glad this method worked for you and look forward to reading more devious post on your… Read more »
jennifer blanchard
Guest

I got the courage to invest in Trailblazer because I’ve followed Jonathan and his blog for so long that I’d seen enough to know I was doing the right thing with my money. Plus for the payment plan price and all the amazing bonuses and his money back plus $100 guarantee I really didn’t see how I’d be going wrong. It was worth my $500 investment and more! Trailblazer has changed my life and my business.

Scott Stephens
Guest

I second Jennifer’s comments about Trailblazer. I LOVE IT! The payment plan helps a lot, and I totally connect with Jonathan’s personality and method. It’s an amazing community of people.

Dusti
Guest

Ethical smethical. Seriously. They probably aren’t paying you enough to sit there anyway. This is like guaranteeing yourself a raise you should already have received.

jennifer blanchard
Guest

My thoughts exactly ;-)

Liz Seda
Guest
I don’t think this is unethical at all. There are times that you just have to sit there and do nothing, and the fact that this is preferable than you don’t work on something else is completely ridiculous. Work should be based on results, so as long as you’re getting results, it really shouldn’t matter what you’re doing. If you were working for a principle based company rather than a rule based company, you wouldn’t have had to do this in the first place. So, as long as you’re delivering on what you promised to do, it’s not unethical. Also,… Read more »
jennifer blanchard
Guest

Thanks for your additional tips, Liz! Those are great additions to the article and definitely worthwhile ways to play the corporate game and launch your biz.

Kim Thirion
Guest

I wouldn’t say this is unethical – a bit sneaky perhaps, but not unethical. In my opinion, as long as the work that you’re being paid to do is being done, then go for it. Of course, at all of my previous jobs, this wouldn’t have been possible due to the type of job I was doing, but then it wasn’t exactly corporate.

On a side note, I follow Jennifer’s blog and I love it. Definitely worth the subscription!

jennifer blanchard
Guest

Thanks Kim! I appreciate the comment and the recommendation!

articles
Guest

Just a smiling visitant here to share the love (:, btw outstanding design .

James
Guest
#10 had me cracking up. I definitely think the 40 hour a week concept is flawed. The story would be different if people were paid for their performance instead of by how many hours they stay at their desk. I can see this as being unethical as far as you’re breaking the fundamental agreement you had with your employer if they were paying you for your time and not just on the amount of work you were completing. You could also look at this from the other point of view though. Let’s say your passion turns into a successful business… Read more »
jennifer blanchard
Guest

You make a good point, but if I hired an employee I would NEVER pay them for their time. NEVER! Paying someone for their time is stupid. I would only pay them for RESULTS. If it takes them 2 hours to get results, awesome. If it takes them longer, that’s fine too. The hours part doesn’t matter to me, what matters is the quality of work.

Robert Wall
Guest
I guess I get to be the unpopular person here. If you’re carving out time to work on a side biz at work, and you have to worry about being fired because you’re not doing work pertaining to your job, then you’re not “doing all the work you’re being paid to do” – you’re “doing all the work you’ve currently been assigned”. Try reversing the roles. You’ve started your own business, and you have an employee who designs marketing materials for you. You tell that employee that you’d like them to design a ten-page color brochure, a letterhead, a business… Read more »
Jamie Alexander
Guest

I agree, it’s completely unethical and to say any different is crazy.

“If what you’re meaning to say is “this company treats me like crap, so I don’t mind if I’m screwing them over to the tune of 10 hours per week” then just say that.”

This is true, and I also wouldn’t judge you. I used to spend half my time in the air force playing on the Internet, but at least I admitted ole Lizzie was paying me to surf Google.

jennifer blanchard
Guest
I see the points both of you are making and I agree, to a certain extent. First off, paying people for their time is stupid and a really outdated way of doing things. Second off, I would NEVER hire an employee and pay them for their time. Once again, that’s stupid. It’s stupid because it takes some people more time to complete tasks while others it takes less time. So paying them for time isn’t actually a true measurement of the work they’re doing. I would only pay an employee based on RESULTS. The results are what matter to me,… Read more »
jennifer blanchard
Guest

And to be fair I WAS being treated poorly at these jobs, BUT that’s not the reason I did what I did. I could’ve left and found another job… but working a “job” isn’t for me. I discovered that and used time creativity to help me build what I’ve created in the world. Don’t get me wrong here–I’ve done most of the work on my business at home, in my own time. But when something came up that required me to work on it during my “day job hours” I wasn’t opposed to it.

Jamie Alexander
Guest
Like I said, I would never judge anyone for doing that. I might do it myself. I just think it’s unethical, but I’m not one for corporations taking advantage of people so I don’t care. And hiring someone for their time is perfectly acceptable and some things you couldn’t hire for anything else. I think the big reason this post is a bad idea is because it might get someone fired then they’d be on hot water. It’s probably something that should have stayed to yourself. But it was definitely a fun post and if A-list bloggers can encourage people… Read more »
Robert Wall
Guest
Jennifer, I can agree with the idea that paying by the hour is silly for many things, although I’m not sure at this point that there’s a functional, legal way to pay an employee solely based on results (other than in an area such as sales, and even that gets dicey). Even if you could do this though, there are a lot of things to consider. Consider freelance work, which is effectively what you’re talking about when you’re talking about paying for results – no matter whether the person is an employee or not. What happens when the business changes?… Read more »
Leo Tabibzadegan
Guest

LOL Bang on!

I created 1000lifelessons.com while taking phone calls all day in a Call Centre (i’d get roughly 30 seconds to a minute spare time between calls).

It was the best decision of my life :)

Be the best at your job, and do your best work. Then create something beautiful simultaneously.

jennifer blanchard
Guest

“Be the best at your job, and do your best work. Then create something beautiful simultaneously.”

What a great statement Leo! I totally agree!! As I’ve already mentioned in the comments above, I don’t believe in paying people for their time, only for the results they produce. If they are doing everything I’ve asked of them, I don’t really give a shit what else they’re working on. I’m not interested in what they do with their time. I’m interested in the results they are producing.

Mike Tubbs
Guest

Considering a company would drop you at a moments notice to make an extra buck….

You are paid to get work DONE. If your work is done then you have kept your end of the bargain.

Robert Wall
Guest
I find it fascinating how pervasive this thinking is. Unless you’re a salaried employee, you’re paid for hours worked – nothing else. Literally, NOTHING else. Your pay stub shows your hours worked, and gives you pay for those hours. If you miss a day (without having paid sick leave), your hours go down and you lose money – regardless of whether or not your weekly work gets done. If you stay overtime, your hours go up and you make more money – regardless of whether the reason for the overtime is that you were too slow during the week. Unless… Read more »
Cedric
Admin
I agree with you completely Robert. One grey area however is temporary employees that are independent contractors. These people get screwed over the worst. I’ve seen large companies (I worked for one) that would promise temps permanancy after a said period of time and then keep half of their staff as permanent for 2 or 3+ years. There’s definitely unethical stuff going on on both sides. But do two wrongs make a right? No, certainly not. Personally at my last job I was completely up front with my boss about working on side projects (I was an independent contractor aka… Read more »
Robert Wall
Guest
Temporary employees definitely can get the short end of the stick – lots of companies are long on promise and short on delivery. If the employees are actual temps (through a temp agency) there are some temp agencies that provide some additional benefits, etc. – but it’s kind of a crapshoot. I like your idea of “personal development time”. It’s kind of like Google’s “20% time”, although my impression of 20% time is that you’re supposed to be working on company-related projects. Even in the “20% time” scenario though, your creativity is being used, you’re being challenged, and you’re taking… Read more »
jennifer blanchard
Guest

@Robert Just to make it clear–I was a salaried employee at every job I did this at. So technically I wasn’t being paid “by the hour.”

Mac
Guest
Here’s another tip: Got some job-specific jargon? Use it. A lot. I recently got a new job–switched from a marketing company to a marketing department in a company (huge difference!)–and I have very little to do at the moment. I finished my second novel this week, while also sounding super impressive to the higher ups. How’d I do it? Keyword density! Anchor text! Tail terms! Natural search results! Hash tags and @replies! Those words were used all the time at my last job, but no one has any idea what most of them mean here. That’s good news for me!… Read more »
Daniel Aipa
Guest
Thank you for sharing your experience Jennifer. I believe you must do what is necessary in order to do something you feel is essential. I actually use a few of your ideas, I enjoy what I do but writing is a missing piece of the puzzle. I wake up earlier in the mornings to get writing on my blog, during lunch, and sometimes when I get home. I do work on my blog at times during work hours, but I give myself a time limit. I do work related assignments and when I feel my focus start to wander, I… Read more »
jennifer blanchard
Guest

Thanks for your comment Danny! I appreciate it. It’s nice to know I’m not the only one :-)

Ryan James
Guest
Very excellent post. This has been my life for the past 4 months! I have a running joke with my wife that my day job is interfering with my life’s work. I keep the 2 worlds very separate with a personal laptop and a device to switch the monitor/keyboard between the “work” PC and my personal laptop. This has a number of benefits, but the largest is that I am not on the “work” network. NEVER assume any degree of privacy when you are logged into a network – random email reviews may trigger some type of scrutinization of your… Read more »
jennifer blanchard
Guest

“I have a running joke with my wife that my day job is interfering with my life’s work.”

hahaha! When I was still working a day job, I used to refer to it as my “side job” and my business was my actual job. That mindset shift alone was a huge help to me. Plus I loved the idea of calling a job I hated my “side job” even thou it was my full-time income at the time.

David Hamilton | Everlution
Guest
This post is straight-up badass. It’s funny how from an American point of view this could be considered unethical. But from other cultures it would be vastly different. We all have done this to some degree or another. It’s “ethical” to screw around, but considered often “unethical” to be actively working on a business. The latter is actually more productive and you’re contributing to the world more. I used to work at a hedge fund when I started my first blogs, and it was always an unspoken social agreement that everyone had screw around time, or building business on the… Read more »
jennifer blanchard
Guest

“We all have done this to some degree or another. It’s “ethical” to screw around, but considered often “unethical” to be actively working on a business. The latter is actually more productive and you’re contributing to the world more.”

EXACTLY!! It’s considered “ethical” to hang out and chat with your coworkers for two hours or to waste time around the water cooler, but doing what I did is “unethical”… funny how that works!

Eddy
Guest
Disagree with this post, although do respect Jonathan work. I havent read all the comments. All I want to say is, whilst I too want to leave my corporate job in the long term to start a business, the assumptions Jonathan makes here are not applicable to all office workers. I never sit there twiddling my thumbs, yes there are expected hours, and the results based performance he mentioned are the most important, but to do my job your mind is always engaged in the technicalities of project management.. I work on live projects in high profile city clients. I… Read more »
jennifer blanchard
Guest

Hi Eddy,

Just to be clear–Jonathan did not write this post and this isn’t something he’s done. This was a guest post by someone else (me). While I see your point, I did mention in my article that people could get fired by doing some of the stuff I mentioned. It’s really up to each individual to decide what is right for him/her.

Paige | simple mindfulness
Guest
I’ve never quite understood the whole idea of having to sit with nothing to do. It’s totally demoralizing. I’ve seen this whole thing from both the employee and employer perspective and I still come to the same conclusion. As an employer, I want my employees to be happy and do their best work. I don’t care where, how or when they get their job done, as long as it’s delivered on time and done well. I used many of the tips above extensively at one position. As for the rear-view mirror – I told everyone that it was bad feng… Read more »
jennifer blanchard
Guest

” As an employer, I want my employees to be happy and do their best work. I don’t care where, how or when they get their job done, as long as it’s delivered on time and done well.”

Sounds like you’re a Results-Only Work Environment person, nice!!

Bill | Leadership Heart Coaching
Guest
I’m in a unique situation with my job as I work from home as a technical support manager. Although I don’t have anyone looking over my shoulder, I also don’t have a lot of free time in the day. There are times I’m working well over eight hours in a day or needing to be available on a weekend. It’s definitely soul-sucking my energy and I’m taking the necessary steps to exit stage left as soon as possible. That is why I have no qualms about getting some work on my side business whenever I can during the day. It’s… Read more »
Alejandro Reyes
Guest
Ok, I won’t lie, on this one. I did most of this, I think the only one I didn’t do was the rear-view mirror. On the other side I did work at a bank, so the mirror would really have gone far beyond the line. Anyway, on my particular case it was non-negotiable. besides we weren’t able to reach facebook or any social network so the best thing I found I could do without really getting anyone crazy was to study like crazy. As a web developer, it was not uncommon to need a reference ebook or something like that,… Read more »
Ron Tester
Guest
I will say, as someone who has owned a business for more than 10 years and works with about 50 employees, that as a small business we cannot afford to have anyone riding the clock. Perhaps in a bigger company you can get away with this, but if you work in a small business I would encourage you to consider your fellow employees and the way that your side projects might be affecting their future. Over the years I have had to move some folks from full time to part time, shift work responsibilities, delay/defer bonuses that I never promised… Read more »
Naomi Niles
Guest
I guess I’m going to be one of the dissenters here as well. I’ve had some really crappy jobs. I started working part-time at the age of 13 and went through about 10 jobs before self-employment at the age of 20. I never considered using my time at work as my own time. I don’t judge others for it and it seems like the thinking that it’s ok is fairly prevalent. I also agree that in a lot of cases, the employers are playing unfair themselves and probably deserve it. But, there are so many ways to be useful even… Read more »
Misty
Guest
According to her comments, Jessica was getting paid on salary, so I don’t see anything wrong with what she did. I also don’t see anything ethically wrong with doing it if you’re getting paid hourly, but only in the right circumstances. Let’s say, hypothetically speaking, that you work an 8-hour day and get paid $120-160, but you make your company a profit of $500 for that day (that’s probably being conservative for some jobs). Now, let’s say you manage to do that by only actively working on projects for 6 of those hours, and work on personal projects for the… Read more »
Tal Gur
Guest

I personally would prefer to be honest with my employer. The goal would be to shift his or her thinking around employee effectiveness from time-based to results-based. Something which is not always easy…
P.S I love the design Jonathan. Great job! :)

Crystal
Guest
Ethics are a highly personal thing, and I can relate to the feeling that, when you’re used ruthlessly, you have to squeeze anything you can back for yourself – and on the sly, because there’s no way such a ruthless employer will agree to anything that isn’t bloodsucking you dry. I’ve worked for such employers before, and one of the things I hated was how it turned me into a clockwatcher. That was wrong for me. Personally. It ended up so bad I had to file and fight my way through a workplace bullying/harassment claim to get myself transferred, but… Read more »
Jenness Sautereau
Guest
I can see it from both sides – especially if you have a less-than-moral or ethical boss; however, I still don’t think it is right and I happen to know first hand that karma can be a b**ch and one day, you’ll walk in and realize that that you’ve been paying your own employees to compete against you. The fact that they feel justified just adds to the fuzzy feeling I’m sure you won’t be having. What the discussion should be, as I’m actually amazed at how many on here feel zero qualms about this, is how do you know… Read more »
Brian Regal
Guest
Ethics aside, no matter what you do in launching your own company while working for someone else puts you at serious risk of litigation. I know. Never once did I work on any of my ‘new company’ projects during ‘work hours’ (some employers, not to mention some positions where work hours are undefined, consider anything you do during your employment that is counter to the goals of your position to be suspect, as does the law). How do I know this? Because nothing that I did in preparation for launching my own company was done during typical work hours. Did… Read more »
jennifer blanchard
Guest
Thanks for all the comments everyone!! I appreciate your feedback–both the people who think this is ethical and the people who don’t. For the ones who don’t, I just wanted to clarify a few things… 1) My main bosses at both jobs I did this at knew that I was working on side projects. Neither of them cared as long as I got my work done and did everything they asked of me. We just had a “don’t ask, don’t tell” agreement between us. 2) I was extremely desperate for a way out. I’d been in hell for 7 years… Read more »
Nancy Blackman
Guest

It’s not borderline unethical. It IS unethical — all of it, which now makes me re-think the whole Trailblazer….

Cedric
Admin

Nancy, you should know that this post reflects the view’s of Jennifer, and not those of me or Trailblazer. Everyone has to make their own choices and decide for themselves what is ethical and what’s not. We feel that you should do what’s right for yourself, and let your own heart and conscience guide you.

Kevin Velasco
Guest

This post further shows how flawed and inefficient the full-time job model is. Paying someone to do 40 hours’ worth of work per week is suboptimal because people only get about 4 hours of real work done in an 8 hour work day. One possible solution is to do what Germany does – allow people close to 6 weeks vacation per year.

Brendan Baker
Guest

Hehe, awesome post :)

I WISH I had the free time at work as this is EXACTLY what I would be doing… getting paid to exist and do work your passionate about! I can’t really complain because my work is pretty cool, however I do have an even stronger passion creating the movement on my site.

Some good tips here, keep it up!

Brendan

Wasima
Guest
This tactic doesn’t offend me. When I’m on a deadline at work I sometimes lock myself in a room and work 12-14 hours without a break. For business “day” trips, we often have to take the first flight out in the morning, sit in meetings all day and get home after 10:00 p.m., then back to work the next morning. I eat lunch at my desk daily. Nobody seems to notice or acknowledge that extra time and effort. If I’m caught up with work and my boss is happy, I don’t have any issues with stopping to write a blog… Read more »
Kevin Velasco
Guest

You know what’s unethical? The U.S. having zero mandatory vacation days: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_statutory_minimum_employment_leave_by_country

Jane
Guest
Excellent post. It probably is unethical, but these days almost everyone screws around on company time checking their Facebook or setting their fantasy football lineup. I launched my first product by working on it during my downtime at work. My department was being phased out at the time, so I didn’t have much to do anyway. It made the days go by much faster to have something to work on and I’m sure it looked better than just sitting around bored. The guy who sat next to me spent his time texting his girlfriend and messing around on IMDB while… Read more »
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[…] How to Play the Corporate Game and Launch a Business Simultaneously (WARNING: The blog post you’re about to read is borderline unethical. Sort of. It depends on your view of ethics when it comes to working a job that makes you feel dead inside. Reader discretion is advised.) ~guest post by Jennifer Blanchard of Inky Bites at Paid to Exist […]

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[…] a guest post on Paid to Exist called “How to Play the Corporate Game and Launch a Business Simultaneously” caused a mild stir, Brazen Careerist kept the discussion going and wants your opinion: Is working […]

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[…] Blanchard of Inky Bites pointed out in an article she wrote that most jobs don’t actually take up 40 hours per week, but you are expected to be in your […]

Penny
Guest

Writers and other creatives have been doing this since time immemorial (before computers in workplaces even existed). In fact, in certain jobs it’s even tolerated – think hotel night porters, for example. I wonder if spelling it out in a public blog post is a good idea, as it may make employers more suspicious, but I admire your boldness anyway!

Joe Cassandra
Guest
I thought I was the only one! Everywhere I looked, people said “I worked hard at my day job then stayed up til 3am working on my business for 3 years” I need more sleep than that! so I took the risk and started building my new site all while at work, because when I get home I need some time with my wife where it’s not about work. I’ve gotten a pro at the SHIFT-TAB maneuver, works like a charm. I do hate the ‘pay per time’ area, because I work 40 hours a week, but could do all… Read more »
Jason Martin
Guest
Ethics are not objective — they don’t exist independently of our minds, therefore ethics are an illusion. One person’s idea of what is “ethical”, is not going to be exactly the same as another’s. If you’re going to judge the actions of others, don’t judge other people’s actions based on your ethics and your standards, judge them based on their own. Personally, I’m a fan of ROWE (Results Only Work Environment), so obviously I value output over the time it takes to create it; therefore issues like these don’t bother me (both from an employer or an employee standpoint). As an… Read more »
Joe
Guest

I love this. I have also written blog posts that look like I’m writing an email. Just a classic move.

Thanks for writing this, Jennifer. You have just given this 50 year old inspiration to blog more at work.

Michael Nitschke
Guest
I is realy nice to read that you guys have so less work assigned to you that you can do it in less than required time. That means either two things: * The work is complete meaning less and nobody really cares if it is done or not. * You are not living up to your possiblities. Means you are not showing that you are able to do more work, and get paid more. Or want to move up in the ladder. I have the exact other problem. At the end of the day there is so much work left.… Read more »
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[…] Paid to Exist blog details a few clever strategies that helped one person launch her own business during the […]

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[…] Paid to Exist blog details a few clever strategies that helped one person launch her own business during the […]

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[…] Paid to Exist blog details a few clever strategies that helped one person launch her own business during the […]

LV
Guest
I’m amazed it took a long time for someone to post that this may open you to litigation. It doesn’t much matter if this is ethical or not, but if you work on your personal business during time (and using resources, such as your desk, computer, printer…) that is meant for your employer’s business, they may legally own whatever you’re producing on their time. This also includes anything you may invent during your business time. Your business might possibly own it; not you. This has legal precedent, which I encourage anyone interested in doing this to look up further. Again,… Read more »
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[…] The Paid to Exist blog details a few clever strategies that helped one person launch her own business during the leftover time at work. Here are a few of those tips: […]

Zachary
Guest
I think some people here are confusing the meaning of “ethical” and “fair.” It may certainly feel like using company time to work on side-projects is fair to you because you’re in a sucky situation with a soul sucking job you hate, but ethics are separate from what is fair or not fair to you. Doing the ethical thing means doing what is right, even if it’s not doing what feels most fair to yourself. If you agree to be paid for your time, then even if you feel like being paid for your time is “stupid” you still agreed… Read more »
Christine
Guest

Great, interesting, thought-provoking post. I’m just amazed that there seems to be so many jobs out there where there isn’t enough work to fill up a full day. I’m currently a librarian (until my side business gets up and running – 12 days into the course!) and I have a backlog of work constantly. Any kind of time-pinching to do my own stuff on the side is really hard to justify to anyone, inlcuding myself. Love reading the debate!

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