Ethics food for thought: Considering a possible side gig



  • Earlier today I mentioned about going to help a friend of mine with her network woes at a local music shop. Whatever the problem was seemed "fixed" by the time I got there (telco had just brought a new router/modem/switch before I arrived), so I just verified connectivity to the Internet and helped identify some end points between cables, so she'll know if X gets unplugged Y will be affected.

    She told me in a few months she's moving into another building and is interested in hiring me to help on the IT side of things. I told her we'll see, and that at the very least I could point her to some services that specialize in helping small businesses with IT needs where it doesn't make sense to hire a full-time IT person.

    So I started thinking about what all would need to be planned if I were a small business moving into a new building, which for many things could be a greenfield if the telco isn't also the monopoly ISP. On such thing is the physical network infrastructure: where do you want / need drops, cabling those drops, terminating to a path panel, acquiring and configuring network hardware.

    This brings me to my point to ponder. If she offered to hire me to aid with the transition to her new building, would I be doing her a disservice by accepting the offer?

    I can argue "no" from the fact that I do have some experience with planning and implementing basic infrastructure, and for things with which I'm uncomfortable, I can refer her to folks more knowledgeable than I.

    I can argue "yes," because I know I probably don't have enough experience to plan all that needs to be planned and implement said plan with 100% assurance that I'll be doing things according to best practices. For example, I know how to make Ethernet cable and terminate to a patch panel, but I don't pretend that I'm a low-voltage specialist and have knowledge of wiring and building codes to "properly" cable a building or office space.

    I can further argue "yes," because even though I don't see her having complex IT needs, there are probably many better ways to implement whatever systems I'd suggest to her (as evidence by the amount of wisdom I've been able to offer ML threads). Additionally, since I have a full-time job, it would not be possible for me to support her at the drop of a hat. Also, because of these gaps in experience, why would it make sense to use me at all rather than starting with an ITSP from the beginning?

    The above has probably answered my question, but I'm curious to get your folks' take. I do not intend to use ML as my personal decision making service; however, over the last many months, I've accepted this community as kind of a group mentor; thus, I value your opinions on various things.


  • Service Provider

    Seems like a fine thing to do as long as she understands the scope of your skills. Expecting you to be an electrician, or any other field expert in a field you don't work in, would be odd. I think she likely already understands that you can "get by" and aren't God's gift to low voltage planning or whatever.



  • @scottalanmiller said in Ethics food for thought: Considering a possible side gig:

    Seems like a fine thing to do as long as she understands the scope of your skills. Expecting you to be an electrician, or any other field expert in a field you don't work in, would be odd. I think she likely already understands that you can "get by" and aren't God's gift to low voltage planning or whatever.

    That makes sense. The cabling would be just one aspects of many that would need to be planned. My greatest concern would be unintentionally causing her business harm by taking on a challenge that could turn out to be beyond my skills.



  • I moonlight on the side for 2 business, I made them vary aware of what all my limitations would be since I have a full-time job. I have helped both of them move into new locations since then. It took alot of after hours work and planning to make sure they knew exactly what was needed to be communicated to the contractors hired to do the cabling etc.

    I feel as long as you and them are fully aware of the limitations and are fine with them go for it.



  • I would not over think it. She would likely understand that you are taking on a lot of difference roles.



  • @reid-cooper said in Ethics food for thought: Considering a possible side gig:

    I would not over think it.

    Ha! I have some long time friends who would read that advice and say "See, Eddie! See?!?!"

    I have given this some more thought, but I'm about to head to sleep. I'll approach it again with a clear head tomorrow.



  • Now that I've had a good night's rest and my head has been cleared, I agree with @Reid-Cooper that I'm likely overthinking what this [opportunity] could be.

    I think the best approach will be to determine what she needs, then explain what I can and can't do, and for things I cannot do try to give her some guidance about who can do those things.

    Looking back at my long-winded post, I think the ethical dilemma in my head really wasn't a dilemma at all. While an ITSP can offer her far more than I could, I can still offer her some help. At the very least I can save her from having a telco design her LAN. Only when I lie about what I can do and steer her away from better resources than myself would I be in conflict with professional ethics.



  • I cannot attest to the building codes, but am pretty sure that they don't say too much when it comes to low-voltage wiring, except for you don't want to run it close to regular-voltage (110V) wiring because of EM interference. Otherwise, the skills of an IT pro, with some cable running skills and I think you'll be plenty sufficient.



  • @eddiejennings There is a part you aren't considering too. She owns a small business and trusts you not to rip her off. That isn't a deal she might be able to get somewhere else. There may be a "better" way to do something, but use ML as a tool to figure out the best way to do something you're trying to achieve. There is always an inherent value to honesty.



  • @wirestyle22 said in Ethics food for thought: Considering a possible side gig:

    @eddiejennings There is a part you aren't considering too. She owns a small business and trusts you not to rip her off. That isn't a deal she might be able to get somewhere else. There may be a "better" way to do something, but use ML as a tool to figure out the best way to do something you're trying to achieve. There is always an inherent value to honesty.

    True.

    She owns a small business and trusts you not to rip her off.

    That is what gives me pause. I would never willingly rip her off, but what I don't want to do is cause her to not get what she needs because of me lacking experience in X area. That problem would be solved by me saying "That's beyond the scope of my skills, but you can talk to [these people] who can help you with this. I can aid you with knowing what questions to ask."



  • @eddiejennings said in Ethics food for thought: Considering a possible side gig:

    @wirestyle22 said in Ethics food for thought: Considering a possible side gig:

    @eddiejennings There is a part you aren't considering too. She owns a small business and trusts you not to rip her off. That isn't a deal she might be able to get somewhere else. There may be a "better" way to do something, but use ML as a tool to figure out the best way to do something you're trying to achieve. There is always an inherent value to honesty.

    True.

    She owns a small business and trusts you not to rip her off.

    That is what gives me pause. I would never willingly rip her off, but what I don't want to do is cause her to not get what she needs because of me lacking experience in X area. That problem would be solved by me saying "That's beyond the scope of my skills, but you can talk to [these people] who can help you with this. I can aid you with knowing what questions to ask."

    Or you could assess her needs and ask ML what the solutions to the problems are. If you don't feel you are experienced/knowledgeable enough to do it that's fine.


  • Service Provider

    There is really nothing to even consider here.

    Just work with her to get the scope and design it.

    Implement what you can.

    It is a very small SMB, there is nothing unique here.

    The bigger concern is the fact that you don't have an LLC to do the work under. Unless she is going to put you on W2, you need to do that.


  • Service Provider

    Oh also, tell the Telco to go fly a damned kite with their gear and put in her own gear.



  • @jaredbusch said in Ethics food for thought: Considering a possible side gig:

    There is really nothing to even consider here.

    Just work with her to get the scope and design it.

    Implement what you can.

    It is a very small SMB, there is nothing unique here.

    The bigger concern is the fact that you don't have an LLC to do the work under. Unless she is going to put you on W2, you need to do that.

    Yeah. That's my next thing to do. LLC would benefit my private lesson teaching as well, from the standpoint of protecting assets if I were accused of nefarious activity, since, unfortunately, teachers are often guilty until proven not -- a topic for a different thread :).



  • @eddiejennings Another possible option is to use Jared as a paid resource if he is willing to do that. If we got along better I would hire him for x amount of hours for projects in my lab. That way when I ran into issues I could schedule time with him to go over why something is happening and the correct way to diagnose and solve the problem. This could be a valuable learning experience for you.

    Unsure if he would be willing to do that, but I'm sure someone here would. I'd offer it myself but I would not be of much help. If you're going to hire someone, make sure it's someone who knows their stuff.