Since I started studying advertising back in 2009 I would sit in the audience of industry talks and listen intently to the speakers. These speakers seemed like the shining stars of advertising, who had everything together and had an inextinguishable amount of motivation. They were obviously the people in life who took spin class before work and didn't have a Netflix account. To them, procrastination was a dirty word and to be honest, they intimidated the life out of me.
Recently however, I launched a side project (CRACK + CIDER) alongside a full time job in advertising and the tables have turned. I have been asked to get up on stage at industry events and give talks to rooms full of people. And I am here to tell you that having a successful side project doesn't have to mean giving up red wine and binge watching Ru Paul's Drag Race. It doesn't mean that I have morphed overnight into an overachieving gym bunny. Side projects are a lot of work but if you follow these 7 simple steps, you can have your cake and eat it (whilst watching GGBO reruns).
1. Care about it
If you care about the problem you're trying to solve then it won't seem like hard work when you're trying to solve it. I chose to help homeless people with my startup. If I had chosen to help children who won't eat their vegetable I would have given up months ago. Homelessness was something that was not only getting so much worse but something I walked passed every single day. I was not only constantly reminded to go home and work towards helping this issue but when I did, it felt like I had a purpose as opposed to having my laying down time taken away from me. Find the thing that keeps you up at night and it won't even seem like work.
2. Partner up
The easiest way to cut down the workload by 50% is to get a partner. Obviously. Although I must stress the importance of finding the right partner...it's a decision worth spending time on. If you find the right partner, working sessions will be a red wine infused dream punctuated with gossip and dinner. The wrong partner and it will seem like the hardest work you've ever done.
3. Just keep simplifying
Things really can be simplified at every single turn. Even when you think it can't be any more, there will be another way to make your life easier.
When we came up with CRACK + CIDER (a shop where you can buy useful items for London's homeless and we'll distribute them) we were going to rent a shop stocked with every product a homeless person could need, buy a fleet of vans, hire a team of specialist outreach workers... I mean, that would never have even got off the ground. What we ended up with was 5 of the most essential items, talking our way into a free pop-up space within an existing store and tapping into existing homeless shelters for them to distribute for us. It was a simple, realistic model for us to achieve.
4. Be Brave
A shortcut to success is being brave. Simply by calling ourselves something polarising and controversial, we struck upon something. We became talkable, sharable and lovable because of our honest and frank approach. This lead to more sales which lead to us being able to help thousands of people. And it didn't take any more work than if we'd have called ourselves John's Shop, one of our first iterations...I know, snooze fest.
5. Use people
People will always offer lend a hand, especially if your project is a prosocial one. The polite answer is "Oh, thanks so much, thats so kind". What you should say is "Great, here is a list of deliverables for next week, thanks". Figure out a bunch of things that don't require a Founder to tackle and leave it on your notes. That way, when someone volunteers help you can take them up on it!
6. Do it yourself
Sometimes the quickest way to get things done is to do it yourself. Putting out Facebook pleas for specialist people who will be willing to do things for free will usually just result in more time and effort being spent on something that would have taken you an hour and a few YouTube tutorials. We aren't designers, photographers or tech people but we most stuff ourselves, leaving us time for a coffee and a sit down.
7. Know when not to be lazy
Sometimes there will be times when you can't cut corners, you can't get someone else to do it and your passion to change the world won't get the job done. I know, it's a joke. I'm not going to lie, even the laziest of people will have to go through short bursts of manic stress for a side project to become a success. Figure out the most important parts of your project and just go hell for leather. If you choose these moments wisely, you can have a huge impact on your project without burning out.
Now, I'm off for a lie down. All this typing has tired me out.