Do it or dont do it..

..Or Call it A Side Project.

The thought of running a successful company can be overwhelmingly daunting. I believe many first time entrepreneurs suffer from a common problem; the idea of starting a successful company gets put on a pedestal.  As new entrepreneurs begin to think about their idea, assemble a team, create decks, and reach out to their network they get caught up in the hype of creating a startup.  All of the sudden, it becomes a big deal to take an untraditional path and run your own company.  Founders become more aware of the risk of failure, the time commitment, and the thought that maybe their idea isn’t worth the next five years of their time.  As soon as an entrepreneur puts their company on a pedestal, they are destined to fail. Excuse after excuse, they get caught up doing everything but what needs to get done; building a prototype and getting it to users or customers to test.  There is no reason to open a bank account, incorporate the company, or even to spend time alerting friends, families, and even potential mentors or investors until it is absolutely necessary.  All of this acts as a waste of time.  Time that could have been spent testing the product, talking with customers, and figuring out the next iteration.

To this problem, my solution is the side project. Having a side project means that one is also spending time on one or more things simultaneously.  The benefits of having a side project outweigh the benefits of committing 100% of your time to a single idea.

Here’s five reasons why:

  1. Dedicating 5-25% of your time to a side project forces you to focus on the most important aspects first, like building a prototype and speaking to customers.
  2. Side projects can change by week, month, or year.  This keeps things interesting and allows you to explore different opportunities without committing all of your resources at once.
  3. The risk of failure does not appear as daunting, especially to a first time entrepreneur because there is always something else to fall back upon.
  4. Side projects teach you how to manage your time more efficiently to get things done quickly.  Having a lot of things going on at the same time doesn’t leave room for procrastination and keeps you engaged.
  5. Side projects are great conversation starters and generally make you look more interesting.  They are a great way to meet new people with interests that parallel whatever you are working on.

Arguably you can have one or more side projects at the same time. Building a website, running a blog, doing volunteer work, or taking online classes, are just a few types of side projects.  Of course, everyone is always busy working on a thousand different things at once.  The lesson for myself and other first time entrepreneurs is that its dangerous to think about things as being absolute. So call whatever you’re doing a side project.  Put your mind in the right place and your work and time will be better spent.  Failure is just an excuse to focus harder on something different.

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