4 Key Learnings from Killing Projects
Although we are a relative new business, since we were founded in July 2014, we have killed already a few side projects. Here’s what we found out.
When I left The Coca-Cola Company, I was found puzzled, wondering what my next professional endeavor should be. Thank God, numerous ideas were in my mind and they were completely different from one another.
Long story short, I decided to start jetdrops, an all-things-digital agency where we specialize in Social Media Marketing. Nonetheless, jetdrops is much more than an advertising agency for me. It is a vehicle that can help me create some of my next few projects.
This is the reason we (try to) embrace creativity and encourage our people to learn new skills. Also, this is the reason we are always working on some side projects. Over the last two and a half years, we have killed a few of them. These are our learnings.
A side project is a regular project
Never underestimate a side project. Consider it as a regular project for one of your clients and act accordingly. Since your available resources are finite your should define from day one what are the resources you want to allocate to this project.
And by “resources”, I don’t only mean the advertising budget you are going to spend or the third party costs, but the time your team is going to invest on this project.
Every minute your team is working on a side project, it’s a minute they are not working on a client’s project thus you are “losing” money.
Which immediately brings us to the next key finding:
Why did you start this project? When are you going to be happy with its progress? What is the result you are looking for?
Prior to kick off, explicitly set your KPIs and set up a tracking method. You don’t have to have some fancy presentations for your reporting but definitely a well-thought-out excel file should be in place.
Yes, your project might pivot underway and, consequently, change your KPIs but a solid report will help you better understand what didn’t work, what you should change and what your next steps should be.
The report will show you the way to go. Should you invest more on the project or kill it already?
It’s OK to fail
And trust me, it’s OK to kill a project. Going through our files, I noticed we have killed 7 of them. That’s almost one every four months. But our remaining, successful side projects have a profit margin 3 or 5 times higher compared to any other project we are working on.
The faster you fail a project, the faster you will be able to start working on the new one. Don’t be stubborn with your projects; you should let them go if they are not working, or if they are not working as good as you expected.
After all, side projects are not meant to be successful.
Side projects push boundaries
Side projects are all about trying out new ideas. They will help you and your team learn new skills. You will find out how to improve existing projects.
They will get you out of your comfort zone.
You won’t have any know-it-all client dictating what you should do and how to evolve your project. The only know-it-all guy will be yourself. It’s completely up to you and your team to make this project thrive (or fail).
Even failure though, has a great advantage: there are tons of learnings from each side project. They might be practical (e.g. I tried coding and I never want to do that again) or they might be macroscopic (e.g. Define success beforehand).
The single most important thing you should do about any side project, successful or not, is to write down all its key findings and make sure that you don’t make the same mistakes again.
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We are jetdrops, a digital agency specializing in Social Media Analytics. We love working on digital projects and, obviously, killing our side projects! Reach out to us at info @ jetdrops . com.