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Moonlight/Side Business Engineering

Moonlight/Side Business Engineering

Moonlight/Side Business Engineering


I work for a medium sized A&E (big A, little E) and find it to provide a pretty good range of design challenges and building types. However, I like to be involved in marketing, sales, and other types of structural engineering, not just pure design but analysis, report writing, small residential work, etc... In order to fill that void I am contemplating starting a small side business that will provide structural engineering consulting services. This will not be a conflict of interest with my day job as clientele is completely different. Also, my firm allows moonlighting, but discourages it; however, if there's a conflict of interest of a given project or with the firm then it's prohibited.

I will be purchasing a pretty cheap "moonlighting" professional liability insurance policy through ASCE and have yet to determine the best organization type (LLC, PLLC, Sole Prop., etc...). The side business will be shooting for <$15k/year and the goal of all of this to do some self-branding, create a client base and to fund the startup of a full-blown SE Consulting Firm.

Is there anyone out there who has pursued this before? I've read cautionary comments in previous forums in regards to insurance, day job firm liability, etc... All good words of wisdom and hopefully I will check these issues off and get my cards right.

Any additional advice, words of wisdom, critical comments, etc...?

Thanks in advance!

Anyone out there have

RE: Moonlight/Side Business Engineering

Good Luck. In my opinion, this is one of the best ways to start a professional firm. You get to learn about accounting, taxes, marketing, and selling yourself. If you have a community college near by, go to the small business classes - they are absolutely wonderful.

Make sure you have a written moonlighting agreement with your day job. That is very important. Be prepared to work late into the night and on weekends. I would discourage partnerships. I started out incorporated my business as a PLLC. This gives you some protection (you do not want to loose your house). I file taxes as an S Corporation.

Let me know how the ASCE insurance works out. I tried the Pearl insurance company several years ago and it did not work out. I dropped my ASCE membership due to this. If you have problems with this insurance, let me know. I sign a contract for a three year period and pay $1500 a year.

Robert Billings

RE: Moonlight/Side Business Engineering

You should check with a professional liability lawyer about LLCs. In California, certain professions are barred from forming LLCs, specifically to prevent the professional from shielding themselves from liability judgements.

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