I am a firm believer everyone should always have a side project – and I would go further and say even more than one is a great idea. Even though making a side project successful can be hard, it can be hugely beneficial over the alternative: not having one.
Start a side project today – it can be anything! This is why you should always have a Side Project.
At any given time, I have a side project running. It can be a new idea for a blog on bucket lists (more on this soon), trying to help start-ups expand (like masblu in Asia) or a full-fledged website like Zyppos.
Zyppos started as a side project some time ago, and it was born from a problem I had, on top of my want to build something that would help people, solve a problem – perhaps make a small income even. But most of all, it was my want to build something tangible and see my efforts turned into something real. When you have a side project you are not just starting work on an idea, you are starting so much more.
STEPPING INTO THE UNKNOWN
On your day job or full-time employment you have your defined role and titles – marketer, doctor, lawyer, designer, engineer, etc – and you are likely to stay within the realm of that function. Not many firms have an internal entrepreneurial culture that encourages people to go above and beyond their role, learning other skills unrelated to their title or basic job description. When you start a side project you do yourself a favour, in more than one way.
With your side project you quickly find holes in your skill set, and you are forced to fill (many) gaps along the way. You also have to play many different roles and wear all kinds of different hats.
Take Zyppos for example. During the development, as a person with a marketing background, I’ve had to step outside my area of expertise and work with developers, picking up a number of technical skills along the way. The developers in the team have learned about design and user experience. The designers have learned about front end development and digital marketing. Everyone has more than one role and everyone learns great new skills.
As Zyppos turned into something tangible, I have had to work with countless different areas like accounting, legal, marketing, development, research, focus groups and many more. I have found myself out of my depth in endless situations – but I tend to also find myself getting out of the deep end just fine. Often, in these situations where I have very little experience, I’ve wonder if I am doing the right thing and “impostor syndrome” creeps in. However, it turns out that trying is the best alternative. You tend to be just fine in the end, and you might pick up a thing or two along the way.
Sometimes you might turn out to be right. Sometimes you won’t – but in those instances you will definitely learn a lesson, and how not to do something, so you are more likely to get it right the next time. Edison said it best:
“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”– Thomas A. Edison
A side project is your blank canvas to draw anything you like. It’s your tabula rasa to write that ‘song’ that’s been stuck in your head all this time. With a side project you get to test ideas, regardless of how unfeasible, crazy, big or small they might be. With a side project you get to push your boundaries, discover your limits and see what you’re made of.
When you start working on any side project you soon discover that really there are no barriers, there are no limits, and there are no bosses or corporate bureaucracy to slow you down.
The only limit with your side project? Whatever you decide.
TEST THE WATERS
A side project can be anything you like, anything you’ve been curious about, or anything you want to get really good at. A few examples:
- Write a book
- Learn to code
- Learn photography
- Take a lesson
- Learn an instrument
- Write a blog on any given topic
- Sell something online
….and many, many, many more
One of the many benefits about starting a side project is that you get to start something from the beginning, taking little steps. A lot of people have an innate entrepreneurial drive, as most people want to create and make a difference. With a side project, you get to test the waters without having to take a full plunge.
Once you get started, you soon discover that your natural curiosity and need for personal growth starts getting satisfied, while developing a new set of skills. Also, one of the many benefits of a side project is that it allows you to figure out a path you might have been keen to explore. You may enjoy your job and your side project, its ok! But a side project might also help you realise a different calling. How will you know, if you don’t try it?
A side project is meant to be an outlet that encourages curiosity, creativity and self improvement. In the end of the day, it can be seen as a training ground. It’s ok to have fun with it, you are meant to!
START SOMETHING – ANYTHING – RIGHT NOW!
After working on side projects I have a new understanding of other people’s skills and roles. But more importantly, I get to satisfy my endless curiosity and continue my personal development.
I urge you to start your side project. Right now! The ultimate goal does not have to be trying to create the next Google, write the next Iliad, paint the next Guernica. The motivation doesn’t need to be making a billion dollars. There are no drawbacks – you might have less free time, but as you use your time on creating something of your own, your sense of pride will swell. When you start your side project, whatever it may be, you are taking a step at becoming more efficient, healthier and happier.
Go do it, start your side project today. It’s one of the best things you can do for yourself.