Your employer is more likely to support your eBay business goals if your dual role is not perceived as interfering with your productivity or competing in some way with the business. Here are some “don’ts” for moonlighting employees and how to avoid them.
Don’t steal office supplies. If you want to avoid problems with your employer, don’t stock your new business with supplies from your day job. In The Scorecard at Work, author Greg Gutfeld says stealing office supplies is one of the five fastest ways to get fired. Historically, employees rationalize this theft saying “The company can afford it.” Because office supplies account for a fairly large chunk of the $67 billion lost to employee theft each year, employers apparently don’t think they can afford it — and are now more than ever on the lookout for disappearing staplers.
Don’t use computer time at work to run your eBay business. Your employer will view your use of company computer time for your eBay business as akin to stealing office supplies — that is, you are using company equipment and services for private purposes. You can rationalize all you want about your right to conduct auctions at the office, but your employer will have employment laws on his side.
Don’t compete. It may seem logical if your day job is at an auto-parts company to start a competing eBay business. After all, you know how to obtain the products and you know the prices. Not a good idea. For obvious reasons, employers don’t like it when employees compete. It may also violate a noncompete or trade secrecy agreement you signed on the job. Think instead if there is a problem that you could solve for your current employer with your eBay business. Is there damaged or excess inventory your employer cannot get rid of? It may be worth offering to sell it on your own time, earning yourself a commission while earning some additional income for your employer. The risk, of course, is that you are too successful, and your employer may want to take the whole operation in house!