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In today’s episode of The Startup Chat, Steli and Hiten talk about how to deal with your employee's side project.

When an employee begins a side project, it’s easy to think that that project will affect his or her productivity. However, this is not always the case and in fact, doing a side project can actually increase the productivity of an employee.

In this episode, Steli and Hiten how to decide if an employee should be allowed to do a side project, examples of side projects that are ok, the difference between a side project and a hobby and much more.

Time Stamped Show Notes:

00:00 About the topic of today’s episode

00:20 Why this topic was chosen.

02:20 Hiten’s take on this issue.

03:44 Redlines to look out for.

04:50 Examples of side projects that are ok.

05:22 Why your priorities should be your work.

05:40 The difference between a side project and a hobby.

06:41 What side hustle means to Steli.

07:50 Why running a side startup can affect an employee’s productivity.

10:46 Why the discipline of an employee is crucial when deciding if he should be allowed to do a side project. 

3 Key Points:

Some of these things are required for these people’s happiness.As long as the project is not competitive with the business then it’s cool.Your priorities should be your work.


Steli Efti: Hey, everybody, this is Steli Efti.


Hiten Shah: And this is Hiten Shah.


Steli Efti: And today on The Startup Chat, we're going to talk about how to deal with your employees' side projects. So here's why I want to talk about this with you, Hiten. Just got an email from somebody that was asking me... He basically, he has a small team of five people in a startup, and he discovered that one of his developers is working on a side project, on a little app on the side. It's something that he didn't know about and kind of like just stumbled over it, and he was kind of conflicted about this. I think that this is something that a lot of entrepreneurs go through, especially probably less experienced ones, where maybe you're a bit more, I don't know, afraid of the energy and time commitment and work that your employees put into your company, versus potentially putting into their side projects or something that could turn into their own business one day. And I have gone through this... a journey of this of myself. I think when I first started as an entrepreneur, I was maybe not as cool with it, and I've become a lot more cool with it and even would hire people that had very prominent side projects and tell them that I would support them with them. And if, in a couple of years, those side projects grew bigger, they could go on and do that full time. And that has happened successfully many times before. And I'm sure you have a bunch of good examples, bad examples. So I just thought it would be a fascinating topic to talk about from a founder perspective. How should you think about the side projects of your employees? Good, bad, encourage it, discourage it? What's been your experience? What's kind of your take today on this topic?


Hiten Shah: I think it's... There's two answers I have. I don't really have a take. I haven't experienced this a lot in my businesses, and when I talk to people about it, I think it's cultural. Is it accepted or a norm at the company you're at? Is the leadership, founders, whoever, are they encouraging it, okay with it? How do they view it? And then what do you want, as a team member, in a company too? And then there's a piece that's like... So I guess there's more than two things, but there's a piece where it's like legally what are you allowed to do and not do based on the agreement you signed? Yeah, so I think it's a topic that's definitely something where I see a lot of people doing... Or I see an increasing amount of people do freelancing...

Key points in this episode

Key Highlights

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