Like many enterprise homeowners, for the primary 5 years of getting my firm off floor, “founder” was my complete id. My video creator platform, Sightworthy, took up all of my power as we went by way of an accelerator, thought-about fundraising and finally determined to bootstrap, and grew to a worthwhile firm engaged on advertising tasks with the likes of Nike, Morgan Stanley, GSK, and Madewell. Whereas I had all the time thought-about myself a multi-passionate inventive, I didn’t really feel like I had time to dedicate to my different passions whereas additionally being a profitable entrepreneur.
However focusing solely on my enterprise was additionally draining. I discovered myself usually working all hours of the day, hustling to get the subsequent sale for Sightworthy, and barreling in the direction of burnout due to it. The truth that I had no inventive power left to do issues that lit me up was weighing on me.
When the pandemic hit in 2020, I may have used the additional time lockdown gave us all to work extra on my enterprise, as so many entrepreneurs did. However, not solely did that not seem to be the healthiest alternative, a brand new thought had sparked my inspiration.
It began as a one-off video that includes my cousin who’s an ER physician speaking about a number of the fundamentals of COVID to assist cease the unfold of misinformation. The video went viral, and different feminine physicians of coloration began reaching out to me desirous to share their experiences. I didn’t need to let the chance to seize this historic second go, so I spent the subsequent 14 months crowdfunding and creating my first documentary telling the tales of six South Asian and Black feminine ER physicians throughout the pandemic. One factor finally led to a different, and a manufacturing firm joined on as govt producers to assist me make the challenge greater than I may have ever imagined. (We’re now speaking to movie festivals, streaming companies, South Asian-led manufacturers, and even medical colleges and universities about serving to us launch and distribute the movie.)
Earlier than I knew it, I had this huge facet challenge I used to be engaged on whereas persevering with to run Sightworthy at regular capability—and I cherished it. Reasonably than overwhelming me, my facet challenge reignited my inventive spark and love for the work that I do, gave me new power and concepts to carry again into my shopper work, and reworked how I consider using my time successfully. And, finally, it helped me see potentialities for the way I may evolve my enterprise to remain aligned with my “why.”
My facet challenge gave me a lot worth that, because the documentary wound down, I began engaged on one other thought: writing a pilot for a TV sequence about 4 South Asian ladies coming of age in NYC known as Lonely Lady. Whereas the primary facet hustle occurred by chance, the second has been far more intentional—and I had already constructed the railroad tracks to make it simpler to work on a challenge whereas I labored on my enterprise. Listed below are a number of the issues which have helped me succeed at each prior to now few years.
I Received My Enterprise to a Secure Place Earlier than Beginning One thing Else
The primary few years of rising Sightworthy, I couldn’t even think about having time for a facet challenge. My schedule and a spotlight had been fully wrapped up in determining who our buyer was, how one can make a sale, and customarily how one can do each little piece of my enterprise for the primary time. However, by the point the documentary began gaining traction, a number of issues had modified.
For one, my funds had been in a extremely good place. Not solely had I constructed a worthwhile enterprise, however a number of private investments had carried out rather well. My funds had been such that I had sufficient for myself and my staff within the occasion that I wished to scale shopper work again to concentrate on different issues.
However greater than that, I had the enterprise techniques in place that I wouldn’t have to cut back with a purpose to flip a few of my consideration elsewhere. We had discovered product market match and had spectacular case research and a powerful community that made gross sales lots simpler. I had employed a fantastic crew and found out what work I wanted to do and what I may delegate. We had a variety of ongoing shopper work and processes for collaboration that made every particular person challenge much less of a elevate.
I don’t suppose it’s mandatory to achieve profitability earlier than contemplating spending time on a facet challenge. However for me, it was useful to have some stability in my enterprise to have the house to come back up for air and spend time on different issues.
I don’t suppose it’s mandatory to achieve profitability earlier than contemplating spending time on a facet challenge. However for me, it was useful to have some stability in my enterprise to have the house to come back up for air and spend time on different issues. – Aneri Shah, Founding father of Sightworthy & Lonely Lady
I Selected a Aspect Undertaking That Linked to My Bigger “Why”
One thing that basically helped me steadiness my facet challenge with my enterprise was the truth that they had been so related, and each taught me issues that might contribute to the success of the opposite.
Clearly, they had been each primarily based round video content material. The video storytelling work I used to be doing for the documentary impressed some new greatest practices for our promoting companions. I additionally found a brand new potential buyer base of oldsters within the movie business. In the meantime, all of the work I had carried out when contemplating fundraising for my enterprise made crowdfunding the documentary really feel a lot much less daunting.
However, greater than that, they’re each tied to a bigger objective. One thing I’ve lengthy tried to push by way of my work at Sightworthy is extra inclusivity in promoting, with a selected fondness for furthering South Asian illustration. Engaged on the documentary and the TV pilot has given me much more alternatives to inform South Asian tales that I could by no means get to inform by way of promoting work alone. That “why” was robust sufficient that the facet challenge felt prefer it was contributing positively to each a part of my life, in a approach that I don’t suppose would have been true if I simply selected one thing random.
I Discovered Methods to Be Extra Intentional With My Time
Probably the most shocking factor about this entire endeavor was how including extra work to my plate finally made me extra environment friendly.
Earlier than I had one other challenge I cared so deeply about, it felt like I may replenish my complete day with work (and I used to be positively headed in the direction of burnout due to it). As soon as I began engaged on facet tasks, I needed to get actually intentional on how a lot time I used to be spending on every. I began working with a coach (the sensible Amy Lombardo), who helped me quickly develop new productiveness habits like time blocking my days. I might begin by blockading every part I wanted to do for the best income mills in my enterprise, since that’s the place the cash was coming from, after which may see a transparent image of how a lot time I realistically had for the facet challenge. That helped as a result of I may simply say, “Well, I could be doing all this stuff for my side project, but I actually don’t have time for that, so how do I organize accordingly?”
It additionally pushed me to get leaner and meaner in my enterprise: I used to say sure to each challenge that got here our approach, and now we’ve actually honed in on the shoppers that may present recurring income.
In fact, all of this was made simpler within the early days of the pandemic as a result of my social calendar was fully empty. Since issues began opening again up, I’ve needed to “sacrifice” a while for social outings with a purpose to proceed work on my facet challenge—however to me it doesn’t actually really feel like a sacrifice as a result of this work really looks like an act of service that’s giving my life extra which means.
I’m Letting My Aspect Undertaking Evolve My Enterprise
This wasn’t the unique intention, however as the dimensions of my facet challenge grew (together with my ardour for it), I began pondering critically about how all of the totally different shifting elements and items may match collectively into a brand new future for my enterprise.
If, as an alternative of serving to manufacturers create video in an agile approach, my new “why” is centering and celebrating South Asian ladies by way of media, how would the enterprise evolve? Would we solely work with manufacturers that concentrate on that viewers? Would we turn into a manufacturing firm that helps different folks create media centering South Asian tales? Or would I reasonably promote Sightworthy and put all of my power into creating my very own work underneath the Lonely Lady umbrella?
I don’t know the reply but, but it surely’s enjoyable to have the ability to brainstorm freely since my enterprise is bootstrapped. And, whatever the route I select, I’ve discovered a lot from my facet tasks that I feel it’s going to repay perpetually.
Based mostly on this expertise, right here’s my recommendation for different founders: A facet challenge could be a facet challenge simply to your personal success, and that may be sufficient. However giving your self permission to work on a facet challenge can finally operate as slightly microcosm so that you can take a look at issues to your future enterprise, profession, and life.
Based mostly on this expertise, right here’s my recommendation for different founders: A facet challenge could be a facet challenge simply to your personal success, and that may be sufficient. However giving your self permission to work on a facet challenge can finally operate as slightly microcosm so that you can take a look at issues to your future enterprise, profession, and life. – Aneri Shah, Founding father of Sightworthy & Lonely Lady