Many women dream of creating a side project to earn extra income or to do something they are passionate about whilst keeping their day job. It can be a challenging task to juggle. I interviewed architect Anna Kyyhkynen who created a successful property project while working full time as a Real Estate Marketing Director for a leading consultancy firm. Here Anna shares her advice on how to create a successful side project while working full time.
What made you start the ‘Minivillat’ property project?
‘Minivillat’ are a group of small holiday homes located on a popular golfing estate in Pickala, Finland. I am very passionate about golf and I was looking for a small property near a golf course but I couldn’t find any. Traditionally golf properties are very large and expensive. Today many people want flexibility and would be much happier owning couple of smaller properties than a large one. I was talking about this to my friend Kati over a glass of wine two years ago. This little chat gave us an idea for a new concept for recreational living.
Kati had been pondering a similar idea but she didn’t have the capabilities to pull off the project. I had the need for such a property but also the skills to do this. We decided to combine our efforts and that’s how the project started.
What was your biggest fear about committing to such a large side project while working full time?
I was afraid we wouldn’t have the stamina to pull it through. But we did. I don’t think I would have done it alone though. It was very important to have someone to work with. We both encouraged each other and when one of us run out of energy the other one was pushing forward.
One thing let to another and we kept taking small steps forward. Eventually we passed a point of no return and the project became real. We simply didn’t dare to give up. It was very tough at times to get people believe in our idea. We had to convince a lot of parties that we could do this and that it was worth their time to work with us. In construction many people are not used to seeing women and not everyone is happy to take instructions from a woman.
What were the biggest setbacks? How did you handle them?
There was a lot of obstacles along the way. Nothing ever goes as smoothly as you’d like it to. Especially in construction there are a lot of man made rules we had to battle or even change. But we were also faced with surprising positivity and support. Many people really wanted us to succeed. They thought it was quite cool that we were just two women putting this project together and that there were no big building companies behind this.
How did you manage your time?
I had a very demanding day job, so I was working on this project all weekends and evenings. One should be under no illusion - if you start a substantial side project you will have to be willing to dedicate a lot of time to it. My kids are grown up, I don’t think I would have embarked on this journey would I have had small children at home. For two years I literally didn’t have any free time.
What are your top five tips on how to make a side project a success?
- You need a realistic idea. There’s no point of starting something that’s not grounded in reality and has no potential to succeed. You need to be extremely motivated and committed to spend all your evenings and weekends on the project so you should pick something where you have a chance of succeeding. Of course you can’t always tell in advance if something is going to work out, but try to do a feasibility study early on to find out. Be ready to give up your first idea and start with a new one if it’s not looking promising. Be honest to yourself.
- Manage your time. Asses how you spend your time and how the new project is going to change that. Be truthful and decide if you will be ok with spending almost all your free time on the project.
- Find a partner. I wouldn’t have done this by myself. It’s a good idea to find a partner who’s got lots of energy and a positive outlook on life. When one of you has a down moment (and there will be times when you want to give up) the other one will pick up the reins and keep going. Work with someone who has the confidence to believe in the outcome even when things are not looking so rosy.
- Be connected. You’ll need a lot of people to help you. Nobody can build anything alone. You need to have connections and know people in your field. Don’t pick a side project in an industry where you know no one. Build your network before you need them. Also remember to surround yourself with people who will support you and cheer you on.
- Positivity & belief. All of the above is worthless unless you have the self confidence and stamina to carry on through obstacles. Self belief and positivity are your greatest assets when you try to do hard things.
What is next for ‘Minivillat’?
The villas will be finished this spring. All the units we wanted to sell have been sold. We are extremely happy with the outcome. We will now take a little break, but this has proved to be a great new recreational property concept and I’m sure we will be back with more ‘Minivillat’ homes in a new location soon.
Thank you Anna for these great tips and congratulations on your success! Anna and Kati have proved that it is possible to create a side income or even a new career via a side project. Please comment below if you have experience in doing something alongside your day job or if you are considering starting a side project.