I’ve recently launched a side project, a SaaS product to manage absences in companies. It might generate some money in the future and yet, I don’t need any of it.

I know what you’re thinking. Money is always nice, and you’re right, but I’m also working full-time as a software engineer. Any extra income is welcomed but not needed.

This is a great path for many creative people. You have the good parts of working for an employer and the benefits of having a side business where you can fully unleash your creativity and learn new things, and learning is so important for professional growth.

You can only learn and apply certain topics in your job, but a side project is limitless. You get more rounded as a professional because you understand more deeply what other teams do in your company.

If you want to maximize learning, you need to try new things, and you can only innovate that much working for an established business. Still, you can try anything in your side project like a new marketing strategy, a new technology you’re excited about, or a new onboarding process.

On top of learning new things, you also minimize the risks associated with starting a new business.

Founders who leave everything to start their companies need to make it work at all costs, especially if they’re risking their own money.

I’d be very stressed to make my project grow if my family depended on it, but if I do a good job and help my employer stay in business, I know I’ll regularly receive my salary.

Why do I do it then if I don’t need the money and my side project’s growth is not that important in my life? Why would anyone do it?

Because you can redefine success for your projects when you don’t need the money.

Founders usually set some arbitrary mark for success, like X monthly or annual recurring revenue. I don’t care about that.

For me, success with a side project is only about three things.

  • Learning something new.
  • Launching it. It’s easy to come up with ideas, but implementing them and showing something to the world is a different story.
  • Improving the world, even if it’s in a small way. For this project, it means that someone, somewhere, enjoys a day off to be with their family because my software suggested it.

I already have a couple of companies using it, so I’ve already fully succeeded with it. From now on, it’s just fun.

I’ll learn more, experiment more, and apply what I learn from my side project to my full-time job and vice-versa. I might or might not reap some big monetary fruits, but it doesn’t matter, and that makes the journey much more pleasant.