by Sam Radocchia, Co-Founder at Chronicled // Blockchain // Forbes 30 Under 30
In a growing company, juggling side projects and a full-time job is often frowned upon.
Everyone is supposed to be focused on one goal and one goal only — building the company. Any work that appears to sway from that overarching goal is viewed in a negative light.
But side projects don’t actually have to steal focus away from the company’s main objective. They can be useful as an outlet for creative energy, as a way to develop employees, and even as a tool to bring in new clients.
It all depends on how you treat these projects. If they’re looked down upon and discouraged, you won’t see any of the benefits.
If leadership embraces the idea of passion projects and offshoots, some spectacular things can happen.
Think of it like a daily walk. It’s comfortable to take the same route every day because you see the same stores, the same people. There may be minor deviations, but usually you know what to expect.
But if you want to see something new, you have to take different streets.
The original path may be trustworthy and dependable, but it won’t ever take you out of your comfort zone or help you see things in a new light. It’s only when you change your route that you run into new people, hear new voices, find new restaurants.
That’s what your side projects are — little side streets that can lead you to new ideas.
Here’s why they’re so important:
I’m not advocating you split your attention between multiple time-consuming ventures. Honestly, 90% of your time should be focused on your core business and its requirements.
But sometimes, in order to get where you want to go, you have to take an approach that isn’t totally linear.
Our team at Chronicled established a company as a passion project called the Blockchain Art Collective (BAC), which is separate from the work we do with supply chains. Recently, we were helping an organization register art and antiquities through the BAC.
And now, that party has expressed interest in using our supply chain capacities to track pharmaceutical drugs — one of our core company solutions.
So what started as a side company ended up bringing our organization business. It wasn’t the most direct route, but it did open up an opportunity we might not have had otherwise.
Passion projects are often about giving people the time, permission, and resources to do something a little different.
These opportunities can be significant, say a sabbatical after several years of hard work. Or they can be smaller, more frequent breaks for people to pursue their interests.
Allowing employees to invest just 5% of their time at work into related projects can lead to major growth and new discoveries. In fact, it can help attract the younger generation of workers since 78% of Millennials believe being involved in side projectsis beneficial to their careers.
And outside projects give employees some leeway to work outside the strict confines of their normal day-to-day workload.
That outlet can be key to retaining employees for the long run. High turnover rates are costly, not just financially, but in terms of the human capital you lose and the negative impact it can have on morale.
Giving your team an outlet — even one that’s tangentially related to the work they’re doing — is a good way to foster individual growth and keep people from burning out.
Many people are actually more productive when they have a lot going on.
When they know they need to get several things done in a day, they work harder to meet those deadlines.
I started my first company while I was still getting my Masters. Looking back, it’s hard to believe I was doing all that at once. But that’s how I’ve always been. Even in college I gravitated toward interdisciplinary studies — combining what I learned in my logic or astronomy classes with what I was writing about in my English or anthropology classes.
I never felt like my company and my schoolwork were at odds. I never felt like any one of my classes pulled my attention away from the others.
Instead, I felt like they were compounding and creating new perspectives, thought processes, and ideas.
Side projects at a company don’t have to compete with the main goals. Ideally, team members will apply what they learn from those projects to their work — leading to new ideas, new opportunities, and a more flexible and innovative company
Originally published at medium.com
ALEXANDRIA, Va., Jan. 26, 2017 /PRNewswire/ — The National Inventors Hall of Fame, in partnership with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), is pleased to announce the 2017 class of Inductees, all of whom have contributed to society in meaningful ways through their groundbreaking, patented innovations.
For full biographies on each Inductee, visit: http://www.invent.org/honor/inductees/
Entrepreneurs seeking funding for their startups now have another place to go: Indiegogo.
“Wait,” you may say, “can’t I already use the crowdfunding platform to raise money for my dream product?” That’s right, but today Indiegogo launched an equity crowdfunding service, which utilizes new government rules that took effect in May and allow anyone to invest in startups. Previously, only accredited investors who met certain financial requirements were eligible to back businesses in this manner.
“Our mission has always been to make it easier for individuals to raise money for projects they are passionate about, and this is the latest way we’re helping entrepreneurs access the financing they need while also giving backers the chance to invest in new companies,” Indiegogo CEO David Mandelbrot said in a press release. “Since Indiegogo first launched we’ve wanted to offer these sort of investments, and we’re very excited to be officially giving the millions of people who visit our platform every month the chance to get involved with equity crowdfunding opportunities.”
As of today, about $11.7 million had been raised for businesses using equity crowdfunding, according to NextGen Crowdfunding. This count includes three projects that have raised $1,000,000, the maximum amount allowed by law.
For its new portal, Indiegogo teamed up with MicroVentures, which helps companies raise funds using equity crowdfunding. Equity crowdfunding campaigns will be listed on both sites, with transactions made through MicroVentures. Legal documents will also be automated through an online questionnaire for funding-seeking companies through iDisclose.
“It’s great to see an industry leader in the rewards crowdfunding space jump into the equity arena,” says Kendall Almerico, CEO of BankRoll Ventures and an attorney who works with crowdfunding campaigns. “The long-term success of the JOBS Act laws and regulations will be accelerated when people already familiar with pre-purchasing goods on rewards-based sites like Indiegogo move to actually investing in small companies and emerging businesses through equity crowdfunding.”
During a previous interview with Entrepreneur, Mandelbrot said he wants Indiegogo to be a “springboard” for business owners.
More than $1 billion has been raised from more than 8 million people on Indiegogo, according to a press release. The company says it is “well-positioned” to introduce entrepreneurs and investors to equity crowdfunding. The service is launching with four offerings, according to the release:
Contacting companies for the first time can be scary and uncertain for Inventors. You want to do it right and get the company interested in your product and see it on store shelves. My invention submissions have resulted in licensing deals in toys, tools, eyeglass products, kitchen utensils, and even a device used in the nuclear industry. I did it spending less than $100 on each and some as little as $8. I utilized an NDA and Sell Sheet only, no patent or PPA. My major investment has been my time.
I have been a serial Inventor, a licensing agent and reviewed thousands of Inventor’s products. In short, I see and hear all sides of the inventing process. What I’ve discovered is sometimes inventors can be their own worst enemies. Here’s a list of do’s and don’ts when it comes to submitting pitches or new products to companies that can help you make a better first impression:
1. Don’t send hand-written submissions. Even if you don’t own a computer most libraries have one you can use for free. If a library isn’t an option, go to a FedEx Office (formerly Kinko’s). If you send your submission via snail mail, include a self-addressed stamped envelope. Don’t assume your target company will pay postage.
2. Do put your contact information on each piece of paper you send. That includes samples and prototypes.
3. Don’t waste a product reviewer’s time detailing how you came up with your idea. Focus on the benefits of your product/technology and why it will make the company money. Companies don’t care if your second cousin twice removed worked on your project for two years once he got out of prison.
4. Don’t use the phrase, “My idea is worth millions.” Let the company decide that.
5. Don’t use the phrase, “There is nothing else out there like my idea.” Most of the time you will be wrong.
6. Don’t say you have researched your product idea thoroughly when all you did was walk into a Walmart and didn’t see it on the shelves.
7. Don’t use the phrase, “Everyone will buy one.” This gets back to being realistic about the size of your market. Know who the target customers are. (See Rule #6)
8. Don’t send a prototype to a company unless they asked you to and are expecting it. Companies do not want to keep track of or be responsible for items they did not request in the first place.
9. Do be realistic about your expectations. Understand licensing royalties usually are about 2% to 5%. Greed can kill an otherwise profitable deal.
10. Do read and re-read everything a company sends you to make sure you understand everything in the documents. Don’t assume everything is fine and sign it. I send people my two-page non-disclosure agreement to read and sign prior to sending me anything for review. I have to include in my email an explanation to make sure they fill in their address on the top of the first page, because so many people don’t do it. This is in the first two paragraphs of the first page. So, if they are missing that what else are they missing in a longer document?
11. Don’t write a novel to explain your invention. Be concise and factual. No one wants to read a novel to get your idea. Be able to explain your invention over the phone or in person in 30 seconds or less. Practice your pitch until you can say it in your sleep. Look at the short blurb on the back of a book. It gives you an overall idea of the 300 page book. Your pitch needs to be that short.
12. Make sure you know your product. You should be the expert on your product. Never assume companies will just “Get It.”
13. Don’t send your submission to a company on Monday and call Tuesday to ask when they will be sending you a contract.
14. Do your research before submitting anything to a company. Make sure your submission actually fits their target market. Don’t submit a lawnmower idea to a soap company.(this happens more than you think)
15. Don’t send your invention submission in care of the general bulk mail of a company. Get a specific person’s name in charge of that department – new product development, marketing, inventor submissions, inventor relations, etc. Don’t send “To Whom it may concern.” The most likely place it will find is the trash basket.
16. If you call a company asking for the person in charge of invention submissions, make sure you are ready if you’re put through. This is not the time to forget pen and paper or fumble your pitch. If you get voice mail, leave a short intelligent message with your call-back number.
17. Make sure you know the time zone difference of the location you are calling.
18. Don’t send a company any package that has special storage requirements, contains a live animal or flammable liquids. Real example: An Inventor sent his new food-sealing device with samples of food sealed inside. It was not opened until a week later, by security due to the smell of the leaking packages.
19. Don’t send a company anything you can’t afford to lose. Accidents happen and things can get misplaced. If it’s a one-of-a-kind item, you may want to send a DVD or link to a video showing the product in action. If you post it on Youtube and you have not filed for any patent protection make sure it is set on Private and not Public.
20. When sending email attachments to companies, do make sure it is in a program they have installed on their computers. Not everyone has Filemaker Pro or Microsoft Office 2016. Ask if the company has a size limit on attachments. Moreover, some software automatically kicks out any email with an attachment that is not on a safe email list.
The more you do upfront to make sure you are prepared the better your chances of success.
I think I speak for everyone when I say that we would all rather work from home than spend years of our lives in a cubicle.
In some cases, you can even earn more money working from home rather than commuting to a typical 9-5. Why can’t you take a piece of this delicious pie as well?
According to Global Workplace Analytics, over 75% of employees who work from home earn over $65,000/year. With the right tools & habits in your arsenal, you can take advantage of thjis golden opportunity. For the rest of the story click here: How to Work From Home