happy little biz

Why personal projects are so valuable to your business

As small business folks we tend to get pretty single-mindedly focused on working on our businesses. What will bring in more clients, what will help our businesses grow, how will we achieve the goals we want to achieve?

But do you ever spend time on personal projects? You know, the kind of stuff you'd love to do but isn't something you're clients are currently asking for, or isn't in your realm of expertise but you kind of wish it was?

My bet is a lot of you read that and go... "No, I don't have the time for that!"

But here's the thing: Making time for those personal, side projects is such an important part of running a business. In fact, I really think each and every one of us needs to budget in the time for it.

Doing stuff that is just for you allows you to experiment and get creative with your skill set. You'll learn new things and find new approaches to problem solving - something that will help you out not just in business, but in life in general.

But what if you're worried about failing? If you spend a ton of time on a side project only to find out you really don't like it, or it just didn't work out how you'd imagined? I'll let you in on a little secret: You can't fail if the project is for you. What you're doing is experimenting! So go in with the attitude that you want to learn something new and see how it works out. Then, no matter what the outcome, everything is great.

Here's a personal example:

Professionally, these days I'm working exclusively in WordPress, and my own website was also built using it. I use WordPress for most of my personal web projects so I can experiment with new plugins, code or design methods without making clients pay for my crazy ideas.

But if you've ever popped open the hood here on nyxie.org, you've probably noticed it's not WordPress. Nope.

meta name="generator" content="Ghost 0.7"

Why?

Well, here's the thing:

I've been using WordPress since shortly after it became available. So I certainly have used it for a lot of my own stuff and have become quite familiar with it, both at a user level and at a technical level.

But sometimes it's just nice to play with new things! And that's the entire reason why I decided to have my professional blog use a different platform. I wanted to experiment.

Ghost was an opportunity to play with tools I hadn't had much chance to use previously, such as Node.js and Ember (don't worry, there won't be a test on the technical stuff, I just figured some of you might be curious).

Will I be branching out into using Ghost, Node.js or Ember in my web design offerings? Probably not, no! But it totally gave me a chance to play with new ideas, expand my skill set, and do something different for a while. Absolutely worth my time.

So the next time you find yourself thinking that you don't have time to try new ideas, make the time! Turn it into a personal project, be it taking a professional development course, creating an e-book, or even building a side business for something else you're passionate about. You never know where it might take you!

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