Congratulations! You’ve decided to make a full-time commitment to your business.
Before you give your notice and burn bridges your work enemies, remember that your network and relationships are especially important to you as an entrepreneur who is just starting out.
Testing the waters—To resign or not to resign?
If you are going to be a full-time entrepreneur, you have to make sure you’re financially and legally in the clear
The golden rule before quitting your job is to make sure you have 3-6 months worth of your fixed-income saved up before leaving. If your finances are not in check, you should reconsider resigning.
It is not unusual to start your own business journey while being employed. If you want to keep your “day job” while starting a business, please ensure you’re not violating your employment contract. If in doubt, seek legal counsel and/or inform your current employer about your new venture.
Employers and courts take contractual agreements seriously, so do not call your employer’s bluff.
For example, there was a case in Nigeria where an employee entered into a service contract where he was not to engage in a business similar to the employer’s business within a certain geographical area for one year.
Less than 3 weeks after he started work, he breached the contract by resigning and joining a rival company in the same area. The Nigerian Supreme Court held that contracts that prevent employees from engaging in a similar business as the employer are enforceable as long as the contracts are “reasonable with reference to the interest of the parties concerned and of the public” (Leventis Motors Ltd. v. Andreas Koumoulis (1973) 1 All NLR (Part 2) 144 at 146).
Diving in – Your resignation
Before you resign, review all your employment contracts, if applicable. The contract usually details the resignation procedure, how your resignation must be presented, and the necessary resignation notice period – 2 weeks, 1 month, etc.
It is important that you follow the rules sis! You do not want to expose yourself to unnecessary legal liability by ignoring those words in black and white.
Secondly, check if you signed a non-compete agreement with your current employer. Will your new venture involve the use of your employer’s proprietary information?
If you did sign one, make sure that the scope of your new venture does not fall within the scope of services your employer offers, and that your new venture will not apply your employer’s proprietary information.
Finally, are you planning to start the new venture with a coworker?
Ensure that you and your co-worker’s departure will not result in a breach of your contract or your employer’s policies. Also, ensure that your potential business partner is not subject to any non-compete agreements and will not be using any proprietary information in the new venture.
Keep your start-up team in legal tip-top shape.
It is important to dedicate time to thinking through your resignation. There is no point in rushing to the finish line without laying the right foundation.
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Contributing Editor: Diana Odero