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Dear Scotty, What About a Side Business?

Dear Scotty,

I recently got into a great at-home business and really want to share my product with everyone. I’m sure once they try it, they will love it and keep buying more. Plus, the added income will help me reach my retirement goals more quickly. Since I encounter so many students and co-workers who would probably be very interested, I just need to know the best way to get my message and product out there. Maybe if I play my cards right, I could end up not having to teach and could just work at the business full time.

Should I send an All-Governance email with all the details, or just continue telling everyone about it individually. The regional manager has told me to tell everyone about it, and it really isn’t “sales” on my part because this product really sells itself.

Any comments on my best approach to a new retirement? I wouldn’t want to be put on double-secret probation.


Academic Entrepreneur


Dear A.E.,

Great question. As faculty, we often try to reach out and look into different opportunities for growth both professionally/academically and often in other businesses. A personal business venture is a great opportunity for income that would supplement what we might expect to make in our retirement from MiraCosta.

However, and this is a big issue, we have to maintain professionalism while at MiraCosta. To that end, AP 3050 describes an Institutional Code of Ethics, and Section E-7 directly addresses your situation. MCC employees will:

Avoid conflicts of interest between their contractual obligations to the district and private business or personal commitments. For example, they avoid soliciting clients and selling services or products during the course of their regular work at MiraCosta College and they refuse remuneration for services rendered to persons for whom they perform the same services as an employee of the college.

To answer parts of your statement, it would be selling the product and would be in conflict with this procedure if you were to send it out in an email or even discuss it with others. Further, if you are in any type of leadership/supervisory role, your discussions could be perceived as not optional sales, but required sales. If you bring it up in class, students may feel they need to visit the site and buy the product to increase their grade. This should be avoided at all costs.

Truly, if you play your cards one way, you may not have to work at the College and the business will completely support you. On the other hand, if you play your cards another, the Board will terminate your employment and you will no longer be able to work at the College… so the business will have to completely support you. It is far better to act consistent with College policies and err on the side of caution in this matter.


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