How to balance Day Job and Side Projects?
Many of us are not satisfied with our current role, thus we move forward to work on side projects. Sometimes side projects could become your new destiny. As someone once said, the thing you spend time on after work is what matters.
- I get paid from this
- I practice my professional career by working on it daily
- I have to report to someone who pay me the salary
- I offload the risk to the company I work with
- I get less return on the success of the company
- This is my hobby
- This should be done in “low to no” budget
- This may serve only one user, ME.
- This is a quick way to test market
- Failure in the market can be accepted
- This builds up experience for the next project
When Day Job meets Side Project…
This is the time that magic happens. In Good to Great, Jim Collins introduced the Hedgehog Concept which is composed of the three circles.
- What you are deeply passionate about
- What you can be the best in the World at
- What drives your economic engine
If one of the Side Projects get tremendous traction, you will want to take it more seriously. Of course, getting traction does not mean it is profitable yet. You will have to test the market on a business model or pricing strategy. At least it is now one step closer. You are likely spending more time to sharpen the saw, and make the project better. This will definitely lead you to the best in the area over time. With the passionate nature on the side project, it is easier to bring this to a great project.
When I started working after graduation, I did not have a clear career path. As long as I was graduated as a Computer Scientist, working in the industry, starting from entry level was a straight-forward decision. In the mean time, I started reading and exploring the possibilities in the World.
After many years, I found out entrepreneurship is something I am interested in. I also noticed that it is a high-risk decision. Talking about risk, it is easy to measure with getting loans from the bank. In those years, I was not able to get a mortgage like a general employee. Even I could get a private loan, it was approved with a higher interest rate. Many entrepreneurs also complained about the little support from Government, banks and societies on finance issues. All these happen, are just because of the high risk nature of entrepreneurship.
Thus I switched to another path. I would work in a company to gain a relatively stable income. This allowed me to get finance support more easily. I then learned about investment, which is simply implying to use money to earn money. I would only applied the interests gained from the investment to fund my side projects. Before this was happening, time was the only asset I had. Thus, in the early stage, spending time to learn and practice is essential.
As you may know, I am working on the project Moments. I started this as a product I make for my newborn son. It is now near 8 months time. I am capturing the moments every day. As a maker, I work on design, coding, marketing, sales and everything related to it. Over time, I have been training myself to be a better app maker. More importantly, it is about the attitude towards the project.
- Spend time (even 30 minutes) on it every day, including EVERY SINGLE holiday.
- Plan it out, break them into small tasks, make progress every day.
- Talk to your friends and colleagues. Get their support.
- Show the in-progress work to the World. (e.g. Article on Medium / video on YouTube)
- Gather feedbacks from the community.
Keep doing these for a certain period of time, no matter 100 days, or 6 months. People will start noticing and build up the traction.
I wish you every success on your Side Projects.