Having a Side Project


(E) Venture Capital investor and Blogger Fred Wilson posted a few days ago an interesting article on his blog about having a side project. Mr. Wilson mostly analyzed a side project as a potential step toward a full-time venture that will raise seed funding.

However, I believe that there are other reasons to have a side project that does not necessarily lead to a new venture.

Many side projects can be hobbies that can generate additional income. A good friend of mine is working as an electrical engineer in a large aerospace company but would never leave her passion for the aerospace industry. She learned programming part of her MSEE, and love programming during her spare time, and in particular developing Web sites for very early stage start-ups. With the insane price of Silicon Valley real estate, having a side income can help for a home down payment; note as well, that there are some tax advantages to have your own business. Plus for someone who does not want to take the risk of being employed full time for a start-up, working on a side project for a start-up is the ideal way to get some stock options.

Many side projects can also be opportunities to expand professional skills or even over time to change career. With so many online courses, coding schools, meet-ups, and hackathons available, many new dreams can be pursued. For example, a front-end Web engineer can learn about back-end software development and become a full stack Web software developer, while a software or hardware engineer can familiarize herself with business and become a product manager.

The challenge of working on a side project is time and effort after a full-time week of work. So motivation, commitment, time management, task planning, task scheduling, and last but not least, strong discipline are key to success.

In any case, side projects can be small steps that can lead to bigger ones. So, it is always good to have at least one, even if it is only a four-hour side project every week!

Note: The picture above is the San Francisco Ballet performing at Stern Grove festival in 2007.

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