How to get your side project done
You do a hobby for fun.
You do a side project for purpose.
It's nice to dream, but dreams don't pay the bills - right? But all new businesses have to start somewhere, and starting them as side projects can provide the perfect bridge between dreams and reality.
The Do Lecture's Side Project Report sums it up like this:
“You haven’t bet the house yet. You haven’t quit your job to make it happen. Your chances of eating tonight remain strong.”
“So you can experiment. You can iterate. You can test. You can pivot. You can stick at it for years without ever launching. And still eat.”
So, what's your side project?
New invention. Social initiative. Study. Write a book or a blog. Fight a cause. Start investing. New business. Fundraising. Home improvement. Training for an event. Retrain. Work/life balance.
Whatever idea you have buzzing around your head, you need a realistic plan to bring it to life.
Here are 3 handy ways to focus and get your side project off the ground.
1. Know your ‘why’
WHY do you do, or want to do, your side project?
Money. Personal development. Change. Recognition. Freedom. Social change. Leave the rut. Passion. Challenge. Fulfillment. Live the dream. Legacy. Compete. Be my own boss. Create. Prove myself. Retire.
Your 'why' is where your motivation lies. The clearer and bigger your purpose, the more motivated you’ll be.
A Twitter poll posed this question: when it comes to your side project, what are you lacking? These were the results:
Ideas and inspiration can come easily, but finding the motivation to turn those into actions can be tougher. Motivation has to live in the real world, and fight for space in our busy lives.
So here's the reality check ...
If you want your side project to become your life’s project NOW... your ‘why’ needs to be bigger and more important than almost everything else on your plate.
If your side project is a ‘nice to have’ sometime in the future ... other things will come first. And that’s OK. Don’t kick yourself.
So get crystal clear about why you want to do your side project, and where that 'why' ranks against your other life commitments. Then be content to give your side project the relevant amount of time and effort at this point in your life.
INSPIRATION BOOSTER: If you're struggling to find your 'why', check out this great Ted Talk called How to know your life purpose in 5 minutes by Adam Leipzig.
2. What’s your biggest blocker?
A Twitter poll asked 'Why hasn’t your side project launched?'. The results were:
So let's tackle those blockers.
Blocker 1: How to get more time for your side project
Your side project might feel like a huge and daunting prospect, so ask yourself this: How much time do you need to reach the next milestone?
Break your project down into steps by answering these questions:
What’s the next big achievement you need to get to?
How much time do you need to get there?
Where could you fit that time into your life right now?
What can you give up until you reach that milestone?
How could your friends or family help get you to this milestone?
Side projects often feel like something we need to cram into evenings and weekend,s but can you bring your side project into your working day?
Have you told your boss? If not, could you?
Can you get relevant training or development at work?
Can you get time off for this?
Can you deliver a talk about what you want to do?
Can your team join you?
Side projects are often assumed to be solo projects.
But is there someone who shares your vision? Could you partner with them?
What skills would it be great to have on this project?
Who do you know with those skills?
Who really ‘gets’ your project?
How can you share the load?
INSPIRATION BOOSTER: If you need help to scope and plan your time, try Stephen R. Covey's 4 quadrants exercise from The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Or, check out the apps available on your tablet or smartphone, like Rescue Time, Remember the Milk, etc.
Blocker 2: How to raise money for your side project
When it comes to your finances, knowledge is power. So let's start with the basics.
How much money do you need to live on?
What’s the minimum amount you MUST have to cover your monthly costs?
How could you save money? What could you sell/give up?
What would it cost you to reduce your hours at work (including any tax band changes)?
Once you know your personal financial needs, how much money do you need to launch your project?
What’s the minimum amount you MUST have to launch the first phase of your project?
Who can you talk to for advice or investment?
Could you crowdfund your project?
Can you make money from part of your project, right now?
You don't have to wait for your project to be 'finished' to start getting it to pay its way.
Can you sell a chapter of your book as an online download?
Can you get paid work as an intern or assistant in your new field?
Can you start taking future bookings for your new B&B?
So: know your blockers in detail. Break things down into facts and figures.
Don’t assume you can’t change things. Stay curious.
3. Tell EVERYONE
It's never too soon to start building a network around your project. The partner, client or investor you need could already be in your life.
So know your pitch. Talk to as many people as possible. And always look for opportunities to collaborate or get help.
Ready to take your first step?
There's power in recording your goals. So grab a piece of paper, or the device of your choice, and complete these sentences to create your new side project intention:
My side project is [description of your side project].
I’m doing it because [your ‘why’].
My next milestone is [your next objective].
My main blocker is [blocker description].
I need help with [specific detail about any ideas, contacts, support, feedback or help you need to help you remove your blocker and reach your next milestone].
Place your intention somewhere you'll see it often. Then begin by committing to a single, simple action you can take to chip away at your blockers and get to your first milestone.
And ... repeat.
And before you know it, your side project will be well on its way.
I wish you good luck and great adventures!