Today’s New York Times “Social Q’s” column addressed this question:
For the last 7 years, Anonymous had received a “generous cash bonus” from her boss – “in addition to the regular company bonus.” She explains, “I do many personal errands for him during the year.”
This year: no bonus. She wonders why. (I’m assuming the writer is female.)
Philip Galanes, the moderator of Social Q, deals purely with the etiquette issue. He urges her to speak privately with her boss, asking if there was a performance issue.
From an etiquette perspective, Galanes may be correct. From a career planning perspective, you would need a different perspective.
First, doing personal errands for the boss is always a slippery slope. (I’m assuming you’re not a personal assistant, like the main character of Devil Wears Prada.) So are cash bonuses.
If your official job does not call for personal errands, I would suggest drawing the line early.
You can also check your company’s policies on outside work. If you find no conflict, you can start a small concierge business, where you run errands and carry out personal services for money. These services charge $35-$75 an hour. Some charge more for difficult errands.
Yes, you would need a business license and you would pay taxes on your earnings. However, a sharp accountant would help you spot some legal deductions. In fact, if your boss is “a millionaire many times over” (like the one in the column) he will probably find a way to deduct your services from his taxes, all nice and legal.
Once you have this business, you can find other executives to hire you. You might even call on your neighbors. Some concierges will walk dogs and take pets to the veterinarian. Some pick up dry cleaning. Just about all services will shop for groceries and stay home and wait for packages (if you do this, make sure you’re bonded and insured).
You can expand your service on weekends. If you get laid off, you’ll have a business all ready to go.