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The One Year Mark of a Side Project

July 13
by
Harrison Forman
in
#HalfTheStory
with
.

Wow, it’s been a wild ride with Brunch Media (facebook.com/brunchmedia) over the past one year (and still going strong).


What began as a blog to write about issues that matter to Millennials in an authentic, relatable approach has morphed beyond that into multiple podcasts, Facebook Live date nights, self-help videos, and hopefully much more in the future.

Like so many of you, side projects typically come and go. We enjoy our day-to-day job, but often times, the need to express ourselves extends beyond that, and out sprouts a new venture, creative outlet, insert another Silicon Valley buzzword, etc. (…well, anything but a business and I’ll get to that in a moment). At first, incredibly exciting, a couple months later scarily real, and close to the one year mark, an equivalent amount of optimism and pessimism. After this, it may fizzle out or continue onwards (but not often upwards).

As I reflect on Brunch Media and brace myself for its future, I thought I’d share a few critical lessons from my time working on this latest side project so far:

1. Don’t EVER call it a business until it’s actually a business.

I’ll dive right into this one. Make sure you look at your side project as a side project for as long as possible. What do I mean by that? Obviously, you’ll have huge dreams: “Can’t wait to have an office, work out a deal with the Kardashians, hire X as our first social media coordinator, etc, etc.” I’m saying to forget all of that nonsense.

The “business” part of the project should be reactive, not proactive.

When we started gaining some traction with Brunch Media, we forced the “business” conversation. Weekly “board meetings” at a certain time, legal documents to make us seem legitimate, and a focus on data over our true interests. Now, if you have the infrastructure in place, these are the right steps to take everything to the next level.

BUT, with only two Philly kids, two Bumble apps, and a whole lot of Millennial uncertainty, all of this forced more stress, unnecessary work, and most importantly, took out the fun involved. By going back to the basics and looking at Brunch through the lenses of a hobby, we are back in a place we know too well: our passions. I’m here to pass on the words of Billy Madison when telling the kids about the dangers high school (business) poses: “Stay here! Stay as long as you can! Cherish it.”

2. Need a partner.

The human journey is inherently social. I can’t think of too many career tracks where you can not only get the job done by yourself without any assistance, but reach a paramount level of success. I’ve been very fortunate to find a partner to help push me into the right direction both on my personal growth and our shared goals with Brunch Media.

We are at that stage (myself already at an exciting job, and he on his way to an elite grad school program) where our personal development, quite simply, matters more than Brunch Media’s development. By putting our friendship first and partnership second, we can embrace each other’s shared goals, help put one another in the best place to succeed, but also fill in the gaps for the other’s respective areas of improvement.

It’s like each of us have a 24/7 “Ari Gold.”

It’s been a helluva ride so far, and hours upon hours of conversations mostly leading to hours and hours of more conversation have convinced me this is an endless journey, but sometimes it’s nice to smell the roses, laugh at the overused Google Docs, and enjoy your suave new Twitter bio.

3. Prioritize the other parts of your life.

Look, the key word here is “side.” Until we lose the “side” in “side hustle,” this venture should remain less important than other critical parts of your life. I’m not saying you should abandon it, and sure, if you really want to put in your 100% effort into a non-business, go for it.

The fact remains this is a fun project, and has not earned the right to take over critical time spent on your day-job, friends, Bumble dates, etc, etc. There is no guarantee of any type of success, so don’t jump into important personal life sacrifices that you may never be able to reclaim. Work on it during moments of free time, but if you have to choose between a boozy brunch (plug) with great people or sending out a superfluous email, always go with the former.  Quite simply, don’t lose sight of the things that matter.

4. Test, test, test!

It’s the experiment lab, a testing ground, a playground to get stuff out there, see what sticks, and keep getting more stuff out there (your friends will always be your friends no matter how many posts/pages you tell them to “like”). The beautiful part of looking at a side project as just that is you allow yourself to take significantly more risks than you would have otherwise.

By taking those risks, you can uncover new strengths and de-emphasize some of your weaknesses. For instance, I’ve realized I actually enjoy video editing equally as much as going on camera. It’s a really neat process, and I never would have discovered this activity without a project like Brunch to freely test different skills. As far as numbers & finance…we are far from out here.

5. I have a newfound respect for ELITE entrepreneurs.

All of us have ideas, sometimes they may actually be a (gasp) good idea, but it’s still fundamentally an idea. Hey, some of us even push forward with these mysterious ideas. We get a logo, maybe a website, send a few emails, possibly a customer or two, BUT, we really don’t create a true business.

Through my experience with Brunch, I’ve realized how hard it is just to get those baby steps up and running let alone world-changing, profitable companies. Today, the word “entrepreneur” is often blighted, misused, “buzzword-y”, etc, but true entrepreneurs still exist and the Travis Kalanick’s, Jonah Peretti’s, and Brian Chesky’s of the world deserve our utmost respect and admiration.

It is SO hard to start anything, let alone a company that makes $1000, or $10,000 so on and so forth. Seeing first hand how difficult it is gives me great respect for these leaders who not only worked incredibly hard, but made sacrifices not too many folks would ever make.

With that said, it’s been an absolute blast, but a humbling experience, nonetheless, working on Brunch Media. Most importantly, I’ve learned there is still so much development, training, and knowledge left to gain before I can give it my best effort to reach the ultimate destination.

Awesome. We will send you a quality story from time to time.

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