Conventional wisdom is to not focus on multiple side projects, focus on a single project until it’s “successful”.
Another saying is “Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect” – Mark Twain.
Does that mean working on a single project, like most people, is the incorrect way to go about things? Or because it’s the most common way to go about side hustles, should you follow the advice?
Focusing on one project is something I’ve struggled with.
Have I been doing the right thing by having multiple projects on the go? Even though they are competing for my attention. Is having more than one project preventing them from reaching their potential?
Be More Like Elon and Gary Vee
Tony Robbins says: “Find someone who is the best at something, then model them”.
Using this framework, is it right to model someone like Elon Musk, or Gary Vee.
These two alone have many businesses that they run. At the time of writing this, Elon Musk runs Tesla, SpaceX, Neuralink, and The Boring Company. Gary Vaynerchuk runs VaynerX, VaynerMedia, VaynerProductions, Gallery Media Group, The Sasha Group, Tracer, VaynerSpeakers, VaynerTalent, and VaynerCommerce. Gary is also the co-founder of VaynerSports, Resy, and Empathy Wines.
Are these two people “freaks” in that they have the ability to operate on a level very few people are able to. So you shouldn’t “model them”.
Or because they aren’t “on the side of the majority” they are the ideal candidates to model.
Yes, these two may have started by focusing on a single project, but now they operate at a higher level. Does it make sense to then model them at the current level and have more than a single side project?
10X Your Learning
One argument is that you will learn more from working on and failing with multiple projects.
Let’s say you blog a lot to promote a project and you create a framework that works for you. Then, you find that you start ranking at the top of Google search. You can then apply this framework to other projects and test out if you can get them to move up the search listings.
You will also broaden your learning, what works for one project, may not work for another.
So you may have to look at learning other skills, tactics, or strategies to help you move forward with a project.
Having exposure to a variety of things will set up for when you need to delegate, so you know what to look out for.
If You Have 2, You Have 1, If You Have 1, You Have 0
I heard the saying “If you have two, you have one if you have one you have none” from an ex-Navy Seal.
At its core, it means “always have a backup”.
So if you have a PC, and you aren’t backing it up, or have a spare laptop “just in case”, you’re setting yourself up to fail. You always have a spare set of house keys, don’t you? You may have 3 or 4 which you leave with family and friends in case you lose yours.
A similar concept crops up a lot when it comes to investing.
Many of the top investors and advice say to spread your risks.
If you’re investing your hard-earned cash, you don’t want to pull all your money into one pot. If the company you invested in went bust, you have lost everything. Many investment portfolios have different industries and sectors to minimize risks and impact.
Why can’t these principles apply to side hustles, why do you have to only focus on one?
Isn’t it better to have two or three on the go, so that if you decide to switch one-off, you aren’t back to square one?
Failed Side Projects
At the start of November 2021, I had three SaaS projects on the go, two had paying customers.
Then, the worst-case scenario happened, I had to switch one off, one that had a few paying customers. It’s not a nice experience having to “can” a project, after spending so much time on it.
I’ve switched off so many projects over the years, it’s not nice, more so when someone is paying you for it.
This time it didn’t feel as bad switching a project off, letting the customers know that you are shutting it down.
When you switch off your one and only project, the feeling of having to start from scratch again is awful. It was easier this time because I had another two projects to focus on. It also gave me the capacity to focus on my personal blog too, another project.
I wasn’t upset or annoyed about this side project failing this time, in fact, excitement hit.
I had “backup” projects that I could focus my attention on and use the learning from the failed project to move forward with the others.
So if you have a project and have an idea for another. I encourage you to make a start on it.
Worst case scenario, you have to stop working on one.
Best case scenario, both explode and you learn loads.