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Retirement – Financial planning (IX)

Last week we started discussing moonlighting for those in phase II who may be interested in going into business after their working career. Today we…

Last week we started discussing moonlighting for those in phase II who may be interested in going into business after their working career. Today we will take up what, in my opinion, might be the ways this could be done fairly and correctly.

Avoid wrongdoing: The first condition for persons wishing to moonlight is that they should not violate any of the terms of their employment. This means that if they are not allowed to engage in any business then they should not at all. If they wish to go into business, then the appropriate thing to do is to leave the job or seek those jobs whose terms allow them. Some other times, the terms of employment might restrict the employee to particular types of businesses they may engage in subject to other terms such as not being distracted from their jobs, etc. In such a case, the employee wishing to go into business should only go into those businesses they are allowed to. If an employee is not interested in going into the allowed types of business, then they can only leave to do what they want to; stay on their jobs and not do any business or leave for other jobs that allow them to do the business they want. At all times there are just two rules; First, the employee should only do what their contract allows them to, and second, the employee should not do anything that might put them in conflict with their terms of employment or employer’s interest.

Choose the ‘right’ business: Choosing the ‘right’ business is always crucial to moonlighting success. Sometimes the right business is just about seizing opportunities in the marketplace. A good example I give is about my computer import business. I saw an opportunity in the market for supplying computer parts and I seized it. For the years we were in the business we made good money as I worked at night and weekends with a full-time salesman that I employed. Other times it is about us creating market openings by applying our knowledge and skills while other times we may be able to create commercial opportunities out of some passion that we have. It does not matter what the trigger might be, we just need to make the right personal and situational assessments before making final decisions.

Understand your role: Except you are moonlighting as a lone ranger because of what you do, a tricky issue is deciding the roles you and your partner, who may be on the venture full-time, should play.

From my experience and observations, employees moonlighting tend to be good at providing funds for the venture, opening up supply chain contacts because of the wide relationships that they have, etc. For instance, in my computer import business, I provided the funds, which I often raised from a benefactor, established the sourcing relationships out of the country and got contracts for supplies from organisations within the country. My full-time business partner, on the other hand, was responsible for open market sales and logistics. The point is that you should play the role that fits into your competencies, comfort, and the scope of your engagements as an employee.

There is a toll: Except if you are an employee where the workload is very light, moonlighting will take its toll on you. If you work in any serious organisation, as I did, after-hours are narrow and even weekends can be full of official engagements. Nonetheless, when I moonlighted, I met my full-time partner almost daily after closing from work; My weekends were always about creating or seizing some opportunity; Public holidays were always ustilised to seize one opportunity or another, including many foreign trips to meet suppliers and import new supplies, etc. I remember spending many Sallah holidays, Independence, Easter, and Christmas holidays not with my young family but in the economy class of an airliner 38,000 feet above the Pacific, Atlantic or Indian Oceans.

The point is that moonlighting takes its toll but it opens your eyes and mind to what works and what does not. It also strengthens your muscles and makes you strong in pursuing your objectives. Thankfully, you can now leverage new means of communication and transactions to ease things for yourself. However, as discussed below, you must stay on top of what is happening.

Stay on top of the business: The one thing that can easily kill any budding moonlighting activity is not staying on top of the venture. The reality about business is that as opportunities open up so do the problems that threaten it. In addition to all that, we have in our environment a major threat; dishonest staff practices. Regardless of how trusted your partner might be, you must be on top of what is happening. The rule of not micromanaging others should be thrown away for a while. You have to get regular reports which you should always verify. The Russian proverb, ‘trust, but verify’ is apt here.

Generally speaking, a few things are important in moonlighting:

  • Choose a business that you can supervise in the evenings, weekends, and public holidays.
  • Focus on only one or two businesses because each will demand resources.
  • Depending on the business, get a partner that will be on full-time for the business. The partner must be competent, trusted, and hardworking.

We shall continue next week with other investment opportunities for persons in phase two.

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