How to Turn a Side Project into a Startup

by Barbara Beauregard
10/12/2016 3:01:01 PM


Many people spend their free time working on side projects for fun or supplemental income. Sometimes, these projects evolve into budding businesses, fueled by big dreams and lots of hard work. 

If you'd like to move from small-time hobbyist to full-fledged entrepreneur, learn the essential checklist for launching a startup.

Optimize Your Chances for Success

Numerous successful startups began as fledging side projects. The online marketplace Airbnb, for example, began as a simple side project to help pull in enough money to pay its founders’ rent. Today, the company is valued at over $25 billion. That said, this sort of success is extremely rare.

Regardless of what anyone says, luck and timing can play a major role in determining whether a startup will sink or float. Still, you can dramatically increase your chances for success by following some fundamental guidelines.

  • Do what you love. You aren't likely to invest enough time or effort into something that doesn't interest you. Always focus on the things you are passionate about.

  • Make time. There are only 24 hours in a day for work, family and rest. To be a successful entrepreneur, you will need to become a master of efficiency, making sacrifices where necessary. This includes less time at the golf course and fewer hours spent watching television.

  • Stay patient. When it comes to launching a startup, timing is essential. Resist the temptation to start too early. Make sure you have all your ducks in a row and carefully develop a plan before launching your new business.

  • Practice self-discipline. To successfully launch a startup, you will need a very clean budget. While crunching numbers may not be especially glamorous, it's essential for small enterprises with very limited capital. Pinch every penny and scrutinize every investment.

  • Become a social superstar. Leverage your contacts as much as possible. Seek investments and advice from established business owners and high achievers. Cultivate a strong online network and consistently work toward forming new relationships. Even if you can't see a benefit to this now, it will play a crucial role for your company down the line.

  • Stay flexible. Accept that your product, service or business model may need to be altered. Don't have a stubborn attitude toward change and make sure not to invest your money too rigidly.

  • Get feedback. Don't invest your time or money until you have established a definitive demand for your service or product. Use polls, surveys, questionnaires and social networks to see if people will actually be willing to pay their hard-earned money for whatever it is you are offering.

Maintain a Realistic Outlook

Keep in mind that there are tens of thousands of failed startups for every Facebook. Write down your goals and take an honest measure of whether they are reasonable. With a good concept and a steady, strategic approach, there's no reason your side project can't evolve into a successful startup. That said, you may need to redefine your definition of success. Ultimately, if you are able to do what you love, while enjoying steady growth, your startup should bring enough satisfaction to keep you motivated.

Additional Resources to Help Grow your Small Business

White Paper

How Mail Services Help Entrepreneurs Succeed

In today's mobile economy, digital entrepreneurs often work from varying locations. While this can help save money and increase agility, it comes with one big drawback:

Read More >
White Paper

Virtual Assistants Provide a Competitive Edge

Countless small business owners rely on remote assistants or offsite receptionists to help with critical organizational duties. While some are content to offload simple tasks to self-employed, stay-at-home support people, others demand more comprehensive services...NULL

Read More >
White Paper

Virtual Assistants & Remote Assistants: A Comparison

While the traditional virtual assistant is likely to work from home, an executive-level virtual assistant is part of a greater brick-and-mortar presence. This fundamental difference opens the door for extensive training opportunities that broaden the professional's support capabilities.

Read More >
White Paper

Overview of Virtual Offices, Executive Suites and Co-Working Spaces

Work has changed. In an age of instant communication, cloud-based applications, and workplace versatility, the era of the traditional office culture has come to an end. Providers of virtual offices, executive suites and co-working spaces have effectively liberated the nation’s work culture, adding dynamic and energizing new choices...

Read More >
White Paper

Part 1 of 4: Introducing the SBA

For entrepreneurs and small business owners, navigating the tricky terrain of creating a sound business plan, forecasting for growth and developing an operative growth strategy can be a major challenge. Fortunately, American entrepreneurs and operators have access to one of the most effective resources in the worldwide market...

Read More >
White Paper

Part 2 of 4: Starting a Small Business

Navigating the complex terrain of creating a sound business plan, forecasting for growth and developing an operative growth strategy can be a challenge for entrepreneurs and small business owners. Fortunately, American entrepreneurs have access to one of the most effective resources in the world via the Small Business Administration (SBA).
... Click to read more

Read More >
White Paper

Part 3 of 4: Managing a Small Business

Congratulations! You have gotten your small business up and running. Now what? This part of our four-part series on leveraging the Small Business Administration to help you launch and manage a small business will focus on the operational aspects of running a business. Whether you need leadership strategies, day-to-day decision making skills
... Click to read more

Read More >
White Paper

Part 4 of 4: Marketing, Sales and Contracting

Understanding marketing and sales as well as the technical complexity of our Internet-driven society gives entrepreneurs a distinct advantage over the competition. This final segment of our four-part report will take a deeper dive into the logistics and philosophy of marketing and sales and their impact on your business success.
... Click to read more

Read More >
White Paper

DIY Marketing Tools

If a business isn’t marketing, its potential customers are not finding it. Small to medium size businesses often struggle with spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on marketing. New DIY marketing tools, however, have eliminated the need to spend astronomical amounts on online and traditional marketing. These tools
... Click to read more

Read More >
White Paper

Virtual Office for Legal Professionals

Law firms (large and small) and solo legal practitioners alike can use virtual office services and spaces to run their entire legal operations or as a supplement to a home office or traditional brick-and-mortar offices. Virtual office services can be particularly useful during trial preparation
... Click to read more

Read More >
White Paper

Finance & Tax Professionals

Finance and tax professionals, whether they work solo or as part of a larger firm, can use virtual office spaces and services to stay on top of their workloads, especially during the busy tax season. Professional virtual office spaces can be particularly useful when back-to-back client meetings are necessary...

Read More >
White Paper

Traveling Entrepreneur

As business people and entrepreneurs continually strive to grow their business, doing so frequently involves traveling around the country to attend networking or tradeshow events, meeting clients and prospects on their own turf, and getting some face-time with colleagues, contractors or employees who may operate in a remote location. Preparation
... Click to read more

Read More >
White Paper

Virtual Office Eguide

Have you ever wondered why some small businesses are successful and others are not and what do these successful companies do to gain an edge over their competition? Through our years of experience
... Click to read more

Read More >