The Side Project Development Phase
What circumstances come to mind when you think of starting a business? Do you picture someone working full-time and devoting all their free time toward the development of their project, or do you imagine something different? Quite often, small businesses begin as side hustles with the potential to become something more. Unfortunately, many small businesses fail within their first few years. But what if there was something you could do to give your side project a fighting chance at success?
To find out, we sat down with ClickMinded’s Tommy Griffith, who turned his side project into a full-time, profitable business. This week, Tommy shared his secret to success and tips for giving your business ideas a fighting chance in the deadly startup wasteland.
If you’ve ever thought about starting a business of your own, this episode is for you.
Choosing Your Side Hustle
The first thing you need to think about when starting a side hustle is what it will be. Oftentimes, new business owners will choose to do something completely unrelated to their current job description or skill set. Think a doctor selling sandals or a lawyer giving personal training advice. Unless you have passion and experience in the subject, Tommy says this isn’t the best approach. This is because it prevents you from taking advantage of exit velocity when you choose to transition into a more concentrated focus on your side project.
What’s Exit Velocity?
It’s a term coined by Dan Andrews, who runs a digital marketing group called The Dynamite Circle. Exit velocity is defined as “the amount of professional and entrepreneurial momentum you have when quitting your job and starting a new venture. Momentum can come from a variety of sources: investment capital, experience, anchor clients, industry knowledge, or connections (aka unfair advantage).”
Simply put, your knowledge of the industry you work in gives you an “unfair” advantage over entrepreneurs who are just trying to break in using side projects that are unrelated to their skills. You already put so much time and effort into working and learning during your daily job. Why wouldn’t you transfer that knowledge into your side hustle?
To give your side project the biggest chance of succeeding, Tommy recommends using the skills you’ve already learned and turning them into a business. Once you’ve done that, it’s time to shift your focus to growth, and hopefully, a transition from side project to full-time.
The Biggest Engine (and Secret) for Growing Your Side Project
Have you ever needed to finish an assignment that seemed interesting at first, but as time wore on, became more and more boring?
Therein lies the reason for many failed businesses.
Search engine rankings are all about customer experience, and a major component of customer experience is how interesting and helpful your product and surrounding marketing copy are. Why, then, would you expect a potential customer to be interested in your side project if you aren’t?
The answer is that you shouldn’t.
The single biggest driver of growth and success with side projects is the creator’s interest. If you aren’t passionate and interested in what you’re working on, your motivation will quickly wane. Soon after, your entire project will likely follow suit. This is why the main idea behind starting a business is interest: yours and your potential customers’. If your project can’t keep your interest, chances are that it will have a difficult time capturing anyone else’s. If, however, the time you spend on your side project feels more like play than work, you’ll be one step closer to preparing for the transition to a full-time focus on your side business.
The Transition to Full-Time
When it comes to the transition from side hustle to a full-time job, Tommy has one piece of advice: don’t overthink it. In Tommy’s case, he didn’t make the transition until two years after revenue from ClickMinded had surpassed his main salary. And once he finally did make the transition, it was completely different from the image he’d built up in his mind as time wore on. He recommends switching over as soon as you feel ready. Don’t make excuses, and if you want to start focusing fully on your side project, do it.
What’s Your Side Hustle?
So there you have it: the secret to creating a successful side project when you work full-time. Have some tips you’d like to share as well? Let us know! And if you’ve made or are currently in the process of making the transition to a full-time focus on your side hustle, we would love to hear about your experience.
- Working on your side project should feel like play, not work.
- The single biggest driver of your side hustle’s success is your personal interest in it.
- When developing an idea for a side project, pay special attention to your exit velocity.
- Don’t take too long to transition from side hustle to full-time. If you want to leave, just leave.
- Invest in a side project you’re passionate about to give yourself the best possible chance of success.
- Take advantage of your current knowledge base, contact pool, and industry focus. Doing so will help you be more successful in the long run.