Some people do a side project to supplement their income. Others, especially many in the creative fields, do side projects to satisfy their passions.
Part 1: The value of small projects
Small side projects are the best way to start
It takes time to be able to handle two jobs without breaking a sweat. In fact you can do a number of small side projects in series and still be able to do the job that pays real money. Small projects give you time to learn and hone key business skills. Also, the failures and mishaps are easier to handle. Consider all this an education for real business where Plan B is invoked early and often. In short, with small projects, you learn for the big projects as you go.
Small side projects that use your natural advantages are the best
These projects give you a head start and may have a better chance of success.
Small side projects teach you about business
Without you breaking into a panicky sweat. You do a number of these projects and you understand what products or services will bring in more money, how a real business operates (day to day hustling, collecting payments, accounting, delegating, excess inventory / or lack of, and so on). This also gives you a better understanding of how your present job and your company operates and survives.
Small side projects teach you how to present your products/services
People buy what they see. People often go for the beautiful things. You do a number of small projects and you have an idea about how to make your product shine more, how to better your website / app...and all the other details about branding, packaging, interactive design or illustration. Presentation matters.
Small side projects make you bring your A-game
Since most of the time we are only able to give an hour or two to our side project, slowly we learn to do a lot of things in a compressed amount of time. It increases our productivity and results are obvious at the main job as well.
Small side projects teach you the value of money
You will learn to find innovative ways around money issues- learning the value in renting, contracting out, ordering on a just-in-time basis and so on.
Small side projects make it easy for you to implement best practices from the main job
Deadlines, goals, templates, checklists and daily admin tasks etc. You do these at your main job. When you are doing a small side project, it is easy to bring the same productivity over there without worrying too much that you have perhaps put too much on your plate. When we are worried, we panic and begin to slip.
Small side projects will give you a better idea if you should go in full time
By now it is obvious, isn't it? Many a big businesses have started from small side projects. Google was previously very well known to persuade its employees to try out projects in their time.
Part 2: How to start
Step 1: Make a list of ideas: Start with the gaps in your present industry, which no one else is addressing
Step 2: Validate Your Idea: Can you find your first 3 customers /willing customers before you start? Do you really think more will soon join their queue?
Step 3: Stay Lean: Unless your side project brings in more than 50% of your income, no need to pay professionals for things like logo, business cards, premium Wordpress theme and so on. First goal is to make the side project pay for itself.
Step 4: Be Consistent: Allocate a fixed time, if not the exact hour, to your side project. And follow the time table everyday.
Step 5: Treat them like experiments: Start with a 'let me how it goes' mindset. That is why a small side project is the best way to start on the side projects road. For more on that, please read below.
Part 3: Balancing your job and your side projects
- Rethink your longer hours, overtime practices, volunteering habits at your main job. After all, you can only so much in day without burning out.
- Do not use your office computer for your side project. You can Google and do research stuff (erase the history daily, but it is tricky when they are using filters to track people's browse history), but never keep any files etc on your office computer. The law on this one mainly works for people who can pay more to the lawyers.
- Always appear busy at work. This way they will mostly leave you alone (no more extra work) or no one will notice what else you have been doing.
- Carry a notepad. Or, use a Notepad app on your smartphone to note down stuff related to your projects- ideas, contacts, things to do for the evening/morning, text for email and so on.
- Know whether you are a morning person or a late night animal. this will help you allot the hours for your side project accordingly - some morning hours for the morning person, and some evening hours for the late night animal.
- Look after your health. Exercise. Walk. Eat right. Less alcohol, more fruits. And lots of water. Hydration is very important.
- Avoid working continuously for hours. Observe the 45-minute rule, followed by 45 minutes of focused and useful work. Another study suggests 17 minutes of rest after 51 minutes of work. Someone said that the world would have been a much better place if people were not put down by fatigue. So.
Part 4: Note for the creative types
People with creative skills commonly do side projects. At least, many give it a thought more than once in their career. They even have a term for the scenario where a creative person does multiple side project, often side by side, often with less contribution from their main job. They call it a 'portfolio career', meaning they have a range of work they can show as part of their resume. For a creative person, their portfolio is their resume, that everyone knows.
Apart from all the advice mentioned above, one would also advise them not to turn their hobby into a revenue source, at least not immediately. Work on it. Learn what people buy, how they buy, where they...and meanwhile enjoy their hobby (that was the goal, right?) till the moolah comes in.
Thank you for reading.
This guide is from The Success Manual, which contains 200+ guides to succeeding in business, career and personal life. Get the pdf ebook for $12 only.