Thoughts on Running a Startup vs. Passion Project

Thoughts on Running a Startup vs. Passion Project

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Today is my 4th day, and I am in the process of onboarding to my new role. “Onboarding” is what my cofounder Hua calls it, and I do need it! Startups are different from passion projects. Passion projects are fueled by passion. Startups are fueled by passion and “more.”

On my first day, I wrote a piece about why I quit my cushy tech job to pursue my own thing. The post got a lot of comments on IndieHackers. I often get asked why I don’t stay at my job and run it as a side hustle. It is a fair question; my mom asked me this too.

Avoiding conflict of interest is one of the reasons. I want to run an ethical business. I can imagine it to work for some jobs, but as far as I know, most tech job doesn’t by default allow it. You need to submit a form to get the employer’s approval to run a side business.

Another reason is that I am not underestimating the difficulty of running a startup. I had past success running passion projects. I got media exposure, the Adobe offer, and invitations to give talks because of passion projects. But it doesn’t translate to startup success.

Startup comes with challenges that are not fun, but you are not allowed to move on. If a passion project stops being fun, I will move on to the next fun project. In fact, I recommend that you move on! The project that is burning the most passion will be the most successful one.

No-fun challenges will consume the most energy! Passion projects give energy back, and that is why I do them! But not-so-fun challenges consume me, and it is not about the time. Something could take minutes to do but hours or days of energy to recover from it.

If I run a startup like the way I run passion projects, I am bound to fail. I am fully anticipating the challenges and willing to devote energy to them to make it work. I am not saying everyone has to quit their job to run a startup, but I believe that I do.

Progress update: today, I am exploring using Notion as a #nocode platform to make Hua’s workshop kit more friendly to run online digitally. I shared about how to run that workshop with arts and crafts home-made workshop props yesterday; check it out if you missed it here.

I will share more about the Notion version tomorrow. If you know some Notion geek friends, please share my newsletter so we can make friends.