Starting a side project can be exciting and super fun. Unlike the work you get paid for every month, side projects allow you to focus on your passions and do the things you’ve always dreamt about. There’s no pressure. And the sky’s the limit (if you choose the right idea and commit to it). According to a recent study by Bankrate, more than 50% of U.S millennials run side projects that give them extra cash at least once a month. Side projects are therefore more popular than ever.
In a nutshell, a side project is simply a venture of any kind that you run outside of normal work hours. Side projects can have an amazing effect on your career and could provide you with great opportunities. Aside from the extra cash, a side project offers other major benefits including an opportunity to learn new skills, provide you with a new sense of purpose and meaning, diversification of your income, better work performance, and a great network of like-minded side-projectors like yourself.
That said, starting a side project may turn out to be the best decision you ever make in your life. Companies and products such as Gmail, Trello, Craigslist, Slack, Facebook, Yankee Candle, and Twitter all started as side projects. Now is a great time to stop making excuses and take the next step forward. Here are five tips to guide you when starting your side project.
Start Small and Build Up
As mentioned, a side project is a venture you do on the side, during your free hours. You need to resist the urge to make it perfect, see immediate results, or generate profits from day one. The truth is that starting a side project can be a slow process and often requires patience. So, don’t rush your success or overcomplicate things on your first iteration.
Keep in mind, small steps always lead to big changes. Be patient with yourself and give yourself enough time to get your side project off the ground. Wanting big results immediately and rushing success are sure ways to overwhelm yourself with stress and eat up your personal time.
Even if you have this big idea that’s going to transform a particular industry, start small and slowly build up. Let’s say you’re passionate about jewelry and want to build your own jewelry store on the side. Why not make a few items and sell to your friends and family or sell them on Etsy? Break your idea into its simplest form and start small.
Think About What You Want to Get Out of Your Side Project
“Side projects work best when they live at the interaction of ‘Things you enjoy’ and ‘Things that help you practice a marketable skill,” said Julie Zhuo, former VP of product design at Facebook.
If the side project you want to start isn’t something you’re passionate about and actually enjoy doing, then you’re better off focusing on your regular job. Why would you spend your valuable time investing in something that doesn’t bring you joy? Not only will you struggle to stay motivated but you’ll find it frustrating to keep going.
Take time to determine what your personal goals are before starting a side project. A simple question to ask yourself is: What I’m I going to get out of this side project? Make sure you’re honest about its purpose— the ‘why’— as this is what will keep you focused and motivated.
Keep Yourself Inspired
Inspiration is what awakens you to new possibilities, drives creativity, and transforms the way you perceive your own capabilities. It has a major effect on your daily performance and focus. In your journey to success with your new side project, you’ll quickly realize that you can’t always count on the inspiration and motivation that comes from within. It’s not uncommon for people to suffer from creative blocks, lose motivation, and give in to distractions as they pursue their side projects. But this won’t be your experience if you learn how to keep your engines of inspiration roaring.
Creating an inspirational mood board or hanging beautiful wall art is a great way to keep you inspired and excited about your side project. And did you know that interior design can actually improve your well-being?
A mood board allows you to convey your creative ideas and concepts at the start of your side project and can be a great source of inspiration. You can draw inspiration from the accomplishments of people who achieved goals similar to yours as well. Other ways to inspire yourself include reading, repeating positivity mantras, and hanging up inspiration quotes or photos.
Learn as You Go
Starting a new venture can be exhilarating, but the motivation can quickly wane if you pressure yourself to create additional income or see results. While you must take your new side project seriously, you shouldn’t overwhelm yourself. And this means being open to making mistakes, trying new things, meeting new people, and drawing lessons as you take one step at a time.
Your small side project could eventually grow into a lucrative business that may become your main gig. But, first, start small and learn as you go.
Don’t Worry About Failure
A really important part of starting a new venture is knowing that things may not always work out according to plan. And that’s okay. Some of the greatest lessons you’ll ever learn are from your failures. So, don’t be afraid to fail or make mistakes. Remember, you’re the one in charge of your side project. If things don’t work out, you can decide to take a different route or start over. A better way to approach your fear of failure is to take small steps while testing whether your target audience finds value in what you’re trying to build. There’s no way you’re going to fail unless you keep repeating the same mistakes. If you’re still unsure, check out these companies that started as side projects.