The life of an entrepreneur can make you dream as much as it intimidates. Develop a side project allows you to get started without putting pressure on yourself since this leads to carrying out your current job in parallel with the construction of a new professional project. A challenge that attracts many employees in search of meaning and eager to acquire new skills.

“After more than 20 years as a communications manager in associations, I was going in circles,” says Virginie. I spent interviews to change boxes, but without conviction. I lacked meaning, ground, and above all desire … I needed to feel really useful, that my job could have an impact on people’s lives. So I chose to train myself in professional coaching. For 14 months, I went back to university: I studied, I wrote a dissertation, I coached my first clients… while being an employee and mother of 3 children! “.

Now well established in her coaching activity alongside her salaried job, Virginie is no exception. More and more, employees seek to open up new professional horizons, to evolve outside their current position and professional environment, without letting go overnight the security of their current job. Developing an entrepreneurial project in parallel with a full-time job has a name: the side project.

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The side project under the microscope

The side project differs from leisure, because there is the idea of ​​building a project, of creating something. In the vast majority of cases, we want to earn an income, but it is not mandatory: we can create a blog on a subject that fascinates us without trying to monetize it.

The side project is not always intended to become a full-time activity. There may remain a secondary money entry, next to the main trade. In this case, one becomes a “slasher”, by voluntarily combining two professional activities.

The side project, for a smooth career change

It is an understatement to say that entrepreneurship enjoys a positive image, with its promises of freedom and independence. “In reality, behind these promises, it is the idea of ​​fulfillment that attracts, underlines Charlotte Appietto, founder of Pose to them ‘. We do not launch into entrepreneurship by default, we choose it ”.

It is also often in response to a lack of meaning in one’s professional life that one decides to explore other possible fields. “I wanted to embark on a new professional path because I realized that my job as a nuclear engineer did not allow me to fully exploit my potential, in terms of passion, talents, desire and skills ”, sums up, lucid, Annaguilène.

The interest of side project is then to allow to move forward step by step, by testing his idea alongside his job. We thus build something calmly, without putting ourselves in financial danger since we keep our activity and the salary that goes with it. “If we have a knife under our throat, it will push us to find solutions, points out Charlotte Appietto. But if it generates anxiety and stress, we are not going to be in good energy to be able to move forward in the long term. The side project allows you to move forward serenely while challenging yourself, getting out of your comfort zone. ”

“I’m running out of time”: should you sacrifice everything for your side project?

To embark on a side project, it must really be a project that makes us vibrate. “This must be one of our two absolute priorities, continues the coach in professional retraining. If she is in the top 5 or lower in the list, because, by circumstance, we are moving, we are going to have a child and we have just been promoted, it is better to wait until we are no longer available ”.

This is because the adventure will inevitably take time. We must therefore also be ready to thoroughly review our daily organization. “I had to optimize my time, notes Annaguilène: spending less time surfing the networks or watching TV, spending less money on trivia to invest in me and my project; wake up a little earlier than usual to have time for my project without sacrificing my family life… At the beginning, I organized myself to work an hour a day on my project. Little by little, I invested more time in it. Soon it will be 100% of my working time! “. Same story with Virginie: “at the beginning, you had to be very organized to split things up. This is still the case today. I devote my evenings, weekends and days off to my business ”.

However, even if it is necessary to review its organization and its priorities, few people speak of sacrifice. “When you take time on your project, that means you take time away from something else,” Charlotte Appietto concedes. But on what? At the start of the Coaching Side project, I suggest that participants calculate the number of hours spent daily on activities that are not very useful and not very fulfilling, on those to which they said yes when they wanted to say no, or those they did not. ‘were just not obligated to do so. Put end to end, almost all arrive within an hour, or even more. ”

We can therefore trade an hour lost surfing social networks with an hour dedicated to a project that is close to our hearts. Reinvesting this time that was wasted does not ultimately require us to sacrifice moments that are close to our hearts. “But above all, adds the coach in professional retraining, if you no longer flourish in your professional life, it is not a sacrifice to try to evolve! When we don’t like our work, when we are not happy there, it is our life as a whole that we sacrifice. We might as well start investing in something that is close to our hearts. From there, it’s no longer a sacrifice at all. ”

There is never failure with a side project

When we embark on a side project, we can make our own the reflection of Nelson Mandela, “I never lose, either I win or I learn”. Even if this does not lead to the creation of a full-time self-employed professional activity, develop a side project is enriching and formative.

We can branch off along the way, realize that the project is not made for us or discover that the market study is inconclusive … Whatever! Charlotte Appietto assures us: “the simple fact of being in the action opens up new possibilities that we had not thought of. But above all, we learn and develop new skills ”. Even if we have never tasted it before, it will be necessary to rub shoulders with the realities of marketing, communication, customer relations, financial management … And that can be doubly interesting, says Céline, who developed a side project around yoga and coaching: “I develop my side project at my own pace and with serenity, while developing professional skills that serve my business. Indeed, recently, my missions [en tant que salariée] have been expanded and include communication with institutions ”.

Entrepreneurship is also a school of life: “when you are an entrepreneur, you are always testing something new and you learn at every step,” explains Charlotte Appietto. When the Side project participants take stock at the end of the three-month journey, they are surprised to see the list of what they have done, the blockages they have overcome and what they have already learned about themselves! “. When you are self-employed, it is essential to learn to accept the unexpected, even if you can fear them, because they will happen sooner or later. Becoming an entrepreneur therefore also means developing soft skills, such as resilience, the ability to pivot and adapt, creativity… A work on oneself resolutely anchored in the concrete!

The side project, a source of pride and happiness

Getting into entrepreneurship, as we will have understood, is not easy. “We all make mistakes, and it’s even thanks to that that we move forward,” concludes Virginie. You have to keep in mind that launching your box is a lot of work and it is all the time: no question of resting on your laurels! If I had to give any advice, besides the importance of organization, time management, and attention to milestones, I would say ‘never give up, even when it’s hard’. For this, maintaining your network and not being alone is essential. The downside of all the time I devote to my side project is that I love what I do so much that I don’t feel like I’m working, it’s a pleasure. ”

The side project can be an intense and rich experience which brings its share of rewards, observes Fabrice, who has decided to become a professional coach in parallel with his activity of quality manager for a digital services company. “I needed a new project on a personal basis, and professionally, I felt a certain weariness and a lack of recognition,” he recalls. I turned to coaching, without having the objective of making it my main activity in the long term. It has now been a little over a year since I started exercising. For now, it costs me more than it earns me, but it’s a very rewarding activity, especially when we have positive feedback from our coachees and we see them feeling better in their lives! “.

HR update with Charlotte Vauquières, MyPocketRH

Before you embark on a side project, reread your employment contract. It may include an exclusivity clause, which implies that you have made a commitment to work exclusively for your employer and not to have a secondary activity. “If your contract provides for one, you must ask your employer for an exemption to develop a parallel activity,” warns Charlotte Vauquières. Concretely, you send him a letter in which you ask for authorization to develop your project, specifying the nature of this secondary activity and reassuring him that this will have no impact on your main activity. You will certainly have the opportunity to discuss it in person afterwards to reassure him.

Be careful, “if you don’t do it and your employer finds out, you risk disciplinary sanctions, or even dismissal for serious misconduct,” recalls the HR manager.

Your contract may also include a non-competition clause, which applies to the termination of the employment contract and limits your ability to perform the same tasks for the competition or on your own account. Although we often develop our side project in a completely different field than its main activity, it is a clause to know.

“If your employment contract does not provide for specific clauses, you nevertheless have a duty of loyalty to your employer,” explains Charlotte Vauquières. You have the right to exercise a secondary activity, but it must not compete directly with the company for which you work or cause it harm ”. This idea also stems from the fact that you cannot use your professional equipment – computer, printer… – for your project, nor work on it during your office hours.

By taking these precautions, you ensure peace of mind vis-à-vis your employer, which will allow you to move forward serenely on your side project. “If you respect the rules of the game, your employer cannot blame you for developing a secondary activity alongside your main job,” concludes Charlotte Vauquières.

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