Have you come to the realisation that your day job gives you no more than the ability to pay your bills or lead a financially secure lifestyle with no satisfaction at best? Do you think your current role in your organisation or company is a dead end with no progression and no more skills to be gained? Or simply put, have you always believed that you were destined for great things and just realised there is little chance of escaping an unremarkable life? Well, this might be the right time to consider having a side project that excites you and fires up your imagination and creativity.

A side project is a venture of any kind, which is separate from your main line of work. Side projects are driven by passion and are borne out of a personal need to solve a problem. It is fuelled by a natural desire to have to something in our name that we can call ours, and with the potential to have a global significance and contribution. In other words, something the world appreciates and makes our personal accomplishment acknowledged by our societies and possibly made use of across the world.

Naming a few side projects which have lifted off and turned into household names and runaway success stories seems like a no-brainer. They include Facebook, Google, Twitter, Craigslist, Instagram and many more. Many ask if we can keep a healthy mix of our day jobs and side projects layered into everyday life. Well, you need to schedule that without stressing yourself. For some, it could be after-work hours or weekend time. For a junior college student, it might just simply be a summer project. Regardless of your preferred timefor ethical reasonsdon’t do it in company or organisation hours. Don’t use office resources for your side project either.

An important question is how do you design the perfect side project that suits you? I think before you set out to create a side project, there are few things you need to know first. You don’t make a living doing it. Treat it as a fun and not as a worka true ‘labour of love’. It should also motivate and inspire you. Doing it should give you a great sense of relaxation and control as there are no work pressures and constraints. Most importantly, don’t quit your day job till your project is a real success. Remember your side project reflects your passion, and by extension your desired career, because that is where your heart lies. In simpler terms, you’re your side project.

I think the easiest way to have a side project is to take your time and think about an idea that has been nagging you lately. Can you build marketable skills doing it and enjoy it at the same time? Do you really care about the problem the project intends to solve? Does your project involve taking a problem that has not been tackled before? Is it an invention or upgrading what is already available in the market? Does the product or service capture the public imagination when launched? While you consider getting answers to these questions, your idea shouldn’t be entirely original. Simply break it into smaller tasks and don’t judge it before your finishtreat it as an experiment by ditching your obsession with growth. As the cliché goes, slow and steady wins the race.

Along the way, the idea of how to monetize will naturally come to your mind. A side project must have a finished product, at least eventually. Can you pull off your project with partners, collaborators and champions for it to have a decent chance of success? Whether your idea turns into the next billion-dollar company or not, don’t take it too long to commercialise it if viable. Know when to pull the plug on your project because not all side projects lead to a fanfare. This allows you to move on to the next project that sustains your interest as that is the essence of a side project: escape the boredom of your day job. So, if your current day job isn’t giving you a headway in life, it may be the time to look for a side project that excites you, with the hope that it will turn your life around. All you need to do now is to test the waters by going for it.


  • Hamse Abdilahi

    Campus Editor-at-Large

    Thrive Global

    Hamse Abdilahi is a London-based columnist who also writes for The Aliberg Post. Abdilahi is an alumnus of the University of Oxford.