Getting Unstuck by Having a Side Project

I have always been a proponent of having side projects. Recently, I found something that strengthens my belief in it. It’s an article by Mailchimp’s co-founder Ben Chestnut. Here is the quote that I’m interested in:

We started Mailchimp as a side project for our web design business after we were both laid off from our corporate jobs.

Mailchimp is a company that I have known for a long time. It’s a large company now with $600 million in revenue. Ben Chestnut, the co-founder, is a billionaire. But I just realized that it started as a side project!

The founders’ main business at that time was web design. They then decided to launch an email marketing service as a side project. The side project took off and took them to a whole new level in business.

Imagine what would happen if they didn’t have any side project. They might still run their web design business now! It might be a good business, but it’s unlikely to achieve their current level of success because the business is not scalable. Having a side project took them to a new height that wasn’t possible before.

A while back, I wrote about How to Find Your Best Possible Life. There I wrote that you could be optimizing the wrong version of your life. As a result, you could get stuck in a ‘local maxima’; you could achieve the peak of your current hill but miss a higher peak elsewhere.

Having a side project is a good way to avoid this trap. It puts you on a different hill with hopefully a higher peak. It opens up the possibility of reaching a new height that was not possible before.

Life Optimizer itself started as a side project. I was taking my master’s degree abroad at that time and decided to start a personal development blog on the side. Long story short, it’s my full-time business now. The side project opened up a new possibility for me.

Of course, I still need to have a side project now. I don’t want to miss an even higher peak elsewhere.

What about you? Do you have a side project?


  1. Thanks so much Sir.

  2. how to decide which side project to take up?

  3. Oh yah, Donald I do have. I thank you for the insight my dear… You always make me think outside the box; like this statement [necessity is a master of all inventions].

    Thumbs UP!

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