Growth May 30, 2020

Side project just hit $13.3k MRR. Am I crazy for not quitting my full-time job?

Brett Williams @brettwill1025

I can't believe I'm saying this, but my "side project" just hit $13.3k MRR and has held steady at about $12k MRR for the past 4 months.

My friends and family think I'm crazy for not quitting my day job and pursuing my side project full time. And now I'm starting to think they might me right.

The thing is I have done no marketing to get it to this point, and I see no signs of things slowing down anytime soon. I know that if I were to devote myself entirely to it, I could grow it into something quite large. But I'm stuck in the comfort of being able to rely on a steady income from my day job. Plus, the company allows me to work from home and pays me quite well.

Anyone is else been in a similar position? I don't consider myself much of a risk-taker, if at all. I have a wife and kids to support, so I guess that's where I'm struggling. But at the same time I don't want to miss an opportunity to scale this thing into something really special.

  1. 24

    Congratulations! That is a remarkable milestone.
    As for quitting your job: Eventually it sorts itself out. If you are getting utility from both ventures without any strain on your life, I cannot see why you would quit just yet. However, eventually, you will see which side of your bread is buttered.
    I'd say give it 12 months before you quit your job (or not)... see how a whole year looks with trends, seasons and the like.

    1. 1

      Pretty much what I would suggest, unless you have fluctuations, keep growing your business on a side until you feel comfortable of quitting. Everyone has a different number for that.

    2. 1

      Really valid points. Thanks for offering your perspective!

  2. 5

    What’s the product?

    I’d say keep the day job going as long as you possibly can.

    1. 1

      It's a design subscription service. :) Thanks, I tend to agree!

  3. 4

    Congratulations!

    If I were you, I would ask my manager if I can work part-time. It gives you more time and enough money to live with your family. End of the day, there is a light to run your own business and worth it!

    1. 1

      Thanks, hadn't really though of that as an option. Appreciate it!

  4. 3

    Amazing product. I can see why it's a $13K MRR. Is $13K/mo not enough to have a stable living?

    I don't have the answer but I have some questions that may help.

    1. What are you attached about your full-time work? The comfort/steadiness can be an illusion if the company goes down or has a lay-off in the future.
    2. Knowing that everything has an opportunity cost, are you willing to make a decision and not regret it ever? "Oh I wish I've chosen the other path" is usually what makes us feel stressed a few months after we make an important decision.
    3. Don't quit because your family and friends think you are crazy. Don't stay because your family and friends think you are crazy either. Don't rush to a decision based others' pressure. "I listened to you and look what happened" will definitely ruin any relationship. Ultimately we all have to face the consequences of our own decisions.
    4. If you can manage to earn 2 income streams and not feeling overwhelmed, keep going and maybe sustain it until you payoff all your debt etc. At which point there will be less financial pressure. Just because we are used to earning a high income doesn't mean we always need that much income to live comfortably.
  5. 3

    It depends what are your priorities. If making money, you should stay. If growing your business, you should leave. If you want to be free, without daily job, you should leave. If you like the job and the people, you should stay. Do you know what I mean? ☯️

    1. 1

      You described my internal thinking exactly. :) haha

  6. 2

    This is for design joy?

    Yes if you want to scale an agency. That is valuable and the big agencies make good money. You may even push their business models into more on demand vs the big pitch deck and engagements (would be good).

    No if you want to stay doing ux work full time and don’t want to turn into a manager and full on business owner.

    If you do grow, my advice would be grow a bit slower than the glorified entrepreneurs. Your quality and turn around time is your product. If that gets damaged, your brand and product won’t be as valuable. If you always deliver, always have a steady line of customers wanting access, and always grow by a healthy percentage (think normal business, not Instagram) each period than it could be pretty good!

    If I were you: I’d take a shot at growing it. Shoot for slow growth and see how well you like the experience. Then speed up growth as able. Your price point is so good you won’t have a hard time finding customers it seems. You’ll only get more valuable as a ux designer back at an established company with the experience.

    1. 1

      Thanks, this is solid advice. Will take it into account. Thanks so much!

  7. 2

    Design Joy/Brett did the design for https://indieworldwide.co/, highly recommend their services. Well deserved success!

    1. 2

      Thanks man, appreciate the kind words!

  8. 2

    Risk-avoidance is based in fear.

    Conventional wisdom will tell you to get all your ducks in a row and then make the jump.

    Have 6 months of savings. Lower your expenses. Spend time on Twitter trying to change the minds of idealogues.

    Ok, maybe not the last one

    The first two aren't bad advice but it puts the cart before the horse.

    The degree of fear must be overwhelmed with a greater amount of anger.

    Anger is the opposite of fear.

    Anger isn't good or bad. It just is.

    Start at the lowest degree of anger...annoyance.

    What, specifically, annoys you about your current situation?

    Boss? Coworkers? The required signature format at the bottom of your email?

    Build your annoyance case. See if that triggers some action

    If not move up the ladder to Anger. Then Rage.

    If you can't make your fear busting case now...hold tight...someone will do something eventually and you already have a perfectly packed parachute

  9. 2

    $13,37 k MRR would have been even better 😜.
    If I were you, I would definitely quit my job. But if going to work is a happy time for you, then I might understand your hesitation.

    1. 1

      Exactly. :) Haha thanks!

  10. 2

    What's the net monthly profit.

    1. 1

      Almost 100% since I do all the work myself.

      1. 4

        So, little to no operating costs? May I ask what your product is because almost 90+% profit margin seems, let's say, weird

        1. 1

          Sure. It's a design subscription service. Other than the monthly cost of the Website ($20) and a few tools here and there, I'm expense free other than my time.

        2. 2

          This comment was deleted a month ago.

      2. 2

        I checked your site. It's related to Design outsourcing. If you're doing all the work then how is it different than a freelancer. I get it that you have a SaaS model but I would focus to see to expand it to more than 1 man army before you quit. Hire a few people because then you can focus on the business rather than doing the manual work your self.

        1. 2

          This is good reply. It's great that a talented designers or coders can do it all by themselves. But to really create wealth - an engine that makes money when one is asleep, is to build a team and manage less talented or experienced people to do the work instead. Otherwise it's still selling time and our time is limited.

        2. 1

          Yeah totally agree with you. It's similar to freelancing but with a more structured and predicable offering at a more affordable price. It was never my intention to really go beyond this or to really even be close to where I am now with revenue-wise, but the market seems to really like it and it's almost forcing me to build a team around it.

      3. 2

        Just checked out designjoy - great idea, beautiful design!

        Could you talk about how you are managing to do this on your own? You have a day job and yet you do all the work yourself??!! That is amazing, you must be insanely productive!

      4. 1

        Congrats on achieving this impressive milestone!

        Are you actually doing all the designs yourself too? If that's the case, I assume you could soon hit the ceiling as your capacity is not unlimited. Just curious, what's your plan to scale this if you go into this full-time?

        1. 1

          Yes, doing 100% of the design work myself. I'm definitely going to hit a ceiling soon. I'm already working far too many hours in a week to keep up with deadlines. The only real way for me to scale is to bring on more designers, as marketing the product isn't really an issue for me right now. It's simly keeping up with demand.

  11. 1

    If you're able to handle both, why not? Quit your day job when you feel like you don't want to work for someone else anymore. Until then, do what you enjoy. There is no perfect path.

  12. 1

    Nice! I know a little while back you were grappling with whether to hire more people to scale this. Did you end up going down that route or do you still want to keep this a solo venture?

    1. 1

      That's sorta of my dilemma. I like the simplicity of a solo venture. However, the demand is pushing me well beyond that. I suppose it's a good problem to have, but it gives me headaches thinking about bringing on a team as I'm not a good manager. :)

      1. 1

        Haha totally get it. I'm a bit of a control freak myself. Maybe it will help thinking in terms of what things you do that are standard / tedious. From there you can either start outsourcing a little or even repackaging your offerings to conform to output that you can deliver efficiently and fast...so sort of a productionized service.

  13. 1

    Your product looks gorgeous and it seems to me that it can become much more than what it is today, because you haven't even marketed it or tried to dramatically scale it. You have a gem in your hands, grow it :)

    1. 1

      Thanks, this means a lot and gives me a ton of confidence. Thanks. :)

  14. 1

    Your side project is a design agency of sorts. Which means, even if you quit your job, you are not going to write off your time at your business as "no experience". You are still going to be running a design company (with all the management experience to boot). That's terrific experience that a lot of agencies will kill to hire. So, I would say there is very little risk in quitting. If your business slows for some reason, you can always use your experience running this business to find a great role immediately.

    1. 2

      Wow, this is awesome to hear and really gives me a lot of confidence to push forward and take risks. Appreciate the kind words!

  15. 1

    Hey, I remember Hue's Product Hunt launch a few years ago, nice work!

    Read a couple of your posts, I'm a designer and I went through this a couple of years ago when my side project became profitable, and juggling the two became a huge drain. Really tough situation, knowing you're not committing 100% to either, but not really knowing what you're trading your current situation for.

    Feel free to reach out, would love to connect! Email is in my profile.

    1. 1

      Nice! That's awesome to remember that! And yes, it's totally hard. I would say though I'm about 95% focused on DesignJoy right now, which makes me feel a tad bit guilty which is even more a reason why I'm struggling with this question.

  16. 1

    Maybe you have plenty of time and all you need is time management.
    You could also hire someone to do heavy liftings and scale the project to new heights.

    1. 1

      Yeah I think I really just need design help. Growth isn't really an issue there. I get opportunities through the door to do that all the time, but I can't pull the trigger until I have a design team in place to handle the demand.

  17. 1

    Congratulations ! It only will get better from here.

    I would say if you have the trajectory and an elaborate plan laid out for where the side project goes from here and becomes an active time investment then yes you should. On other if you did this with some part of your time and it is not big enough to be actively pursued then why quit job.

    For some reason I think if this was worth being full time thing you would have quit already. 13k MRR is crazy good to be piloting for you. Sorry for being blunt.

    All the best!

  18. 1

    I think slow and steady growth is actually a good thing. If you commit 100% into your side project and as a result it starts to grow a lot faster as expected, there is also more room failure (because you will have to keep up with the pace it growths in all areas or it will result in major setbacks).

    Eventually, I believe you will choose the right decision for you by yourself, when life forces you to decide for one or the other in some way.

  19. 1

    Wife, kids, house, job and a stream of money pouring through the door. Yeah you must be crazy for thinking of keeping it like it is.

    Unless it's your wife saying quit then I say largely ignore friends/family as they're not taking the risk. You'll know if/when it's right.

    1. 1

      Thanks, I appreciate it. :)

  20. 1

    That's amazing! As a family man myself, I would run both for as long as I could while keeping my sanity and still having time for the family. If you can do both for another 6 months or so, you should have enough savings to take the plunge full time with a lot less risk.

    1. 1

      Really valid point. Totally agree - thanks!

  21. 1

    Well done. I great to hear someone is going up. I know some people who are $$$ on Skillshare and still working a full-time job. So, it's up to you really at the end of the day. Do you enjoy your job? Can you sustain this project as a side income?

    What tips do you have in regards of marketing a new product? I got a product which is something different but not sure how to validate it. It's a very basic MVP

  22. 1

    I wouldn't think twice about quitting my day job in your situation. Currently, it sounds like you have a full-time job, and a side-project which is more like a second job, than it is a passive income. Correct me if I'm wrong.

    Consider the negative consequences of keeping two jobs:

    • High probability of burnout.
    • Less time to spend on your family, which can take a real toll on both relationship and family life.
    • Missed opportunity to grow your own business.

    Also, I see very low risk involved with quitting. It would not be terribly hard to find another job if your business doesn't work out (which it has already shown great signs that it will).

    1. 1

      Woohoo, thanks @josk. Really appreciate the advice.

  23. 1

    How much are you making from your day job, and how much time does that take?

    You’ll need to make this decision fast, you are growing and won’t be able to keep up soon, you will need to hire and TRAIN someone. That takes time and effort.

    1. 1

      I make $100k/y at my day job, which is why it's hard to just leave.

      1. 1

        Don’t leave yet. You have $20k/month budget to scale it up. Hire a designer or two. Train them, and see how that works, and how your more long term numbers look - churn, word of mouth referrals etc.

        It’s gonna be hard though, so be prepared for that for a few more months.

        The story of the warby parker guys comes to mind, maybe look it up, they also didnt want to go full time until much later.

  24. 1

    Find someone young and eager to prove themselves and let them handle the day to day improvements in exchange for a share of the revenue that they generate.

    It'll allow them to learn a lot by being your apprentice and it'll turn your either / or decision into "let's do both".

    If they perform poorly, you don't lose any revenue. If they perform well, you probably want to bring them on as cofounder anyway.

    The only thing I would strongly advise against is for you to do it all alone. That way, you'll never be able to take an unplanned vacation again. But kids can unexpectedly get sick.

    I speak from experience here, as a 10+ year single founder. Going alone can be quite a burden for your private life.

    1. 1

      This is exactly what I've been throwing around in my head. The struggle for me is finding that person I trust with my baby. :/

      1. 1

        Speed matters here - hire 3 people on a trial period. If none “clicks” after a few weeks, get another 3. From my experience when it’s a good fit you just know it. When it’s not, you’re unsure.

        Also, make a recruiting process: give them a challenge (or a few) to complete before you ever interview. See how fast they do it, how well they do it - things like enthusiasm/lazyness come up fast.

        Last - don’t be hands off, at least not initially. Wait until you feel confident before you hand over autonomy.

  25. 1

    In this day and age: Hell no! Invest the leftovers and keep the day job as long as you can!

    1. 1

      Haha fair enough, thanks!

  26. 1

    Answering your question: yes you are! 😃

    1. 1

      Haha straight to the point, I like it!

  27. 1

    Congratulations! I am looking forward to seeing more great things from you

  28. 1

    As you present it you're able to maintain both so if you just want to see how much it could grow, since I believe that with your full time job you're able to sustain your family, IMHO you should start to invest some of the profits.

    Start small, hire 1/2 designers part time or just go for the UpWork route. Delegate some of your work and try to do some marketing.

    Just with one designer alone you should start to set some procedures and a shared CRM or task board in order to have an eye on the work delivered (don't know if you do already).

    As far as I saw time change always something so it's better to "help him" change for the better 😉

  29. 1

    Are you talking about https://www.designjoy.co/?

    It looks amazing both design and positioning wise. No wonder it's hitting those numbers.

    Reading your post, it feels like the reason you do not want to jump ship is that you don't have control on your acquisition. I think I would feel the same way if I was hitting those numbers without doing any marketing. It almost feels like you're riding some magical train and you're loving it but you're wondering if at some point someone will hit the brakes hard and you'll be sent flying.

    You're obviously a talented designer and you must work super fast to run something like this. Have you considered hiring a marketer? I think that would make you feel more confident in all aspects of your project.

    I know my post sounds like I'm going to sell you my services, but I'm not a marketer (I'm actually horrible at anything like that 😅)

    1. 1

      Thanks for the kind words @jevinsew. This gives me a great amount of confidence. Really appreciate your time!

  30. 1

    Congrats on the great milestone.

    Just my humble opinion, if it is not affecting your work-life balance, I think keeping your day job while still pursuing this as a side project would be great.

    1. 1

      Thanks. Sorta what I was hoping to hear. 👍

      1. 1

        I went in full-time on a side project two years ago but have to close it down last week due to Covid19.

        I'm down without a job and a business so I would definitely recommend keeping it as a side project as long as you can.

        I'm picking myself up again by writing a newsletter of 5 minutes summary of questions asked and answers given on a wide range of business topics relating to legal, finance, sales and growth etc.

        Hopefully I can reach your level of success in the future. Cheers!

        1. 2

          Dang, sorry to hear that! Glad to hear you're picking yourself back up. I created my side hustle after being laid off from a company that eventually went down. So keep your head up. Great things can come when your back is up against the wall.

  31. 1

    How did you manage to achieve this without any marketing?

    1. 2

      To be honest this post is some kind of marketing activity so it is not completely true. Well, I did check the product, didn't you?

    2. 1

      Great question. I suppose a really great product at a super good price. Word of mouth has done wonders for me.

  32. 1

    How confident are you that you can get another comparable job (or the same job back) if your side project doesn't pan out? To me, that's the real question. There are a few likely scenarios I can think of:

    1. Your project does well, you increase your revenue, and you're happy with your decision to quit.
    2. Your project stays the same despite all of your efforts.
    3. Your project goes south, and you don't want to spend more time/money to fix it.

    Obviously the first scenario is ideal. In the other two, you'd likely want to get a job again. So do you think you'll be able to? If so, what's really stopping you from quitting? If you're sure that you can only improve your side project by working on it full time, it seems worth the risk.

    Of course, this is your personal decision and I could be completely wrong or missing a ton of background info and context. 🤷

    1. 1

      Really great question. Haven't really thought of it from that angle. I suppose once Covid is over it wouldn't be hard, but I certainly don't want to compete in the current job market.

  33. 1

    I wonder what's your total cost of living each month.
    That is amazing revenue and you should be proud esp since your the only one receiving the funds.

    1. 1

      I live off about $5k/m and bring in about $18k/m with this side hustle. I know i won't always make this kind money so I sort of have the mindset of maximizing my income potential while I can. That's why I still have a full time gig, ya know?

      1. 1

        Sounds like you dont have to pay income tax in your country 😅

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    This comment was deleted a month ago.

    1. 1

      So true. Agree with everything said here.

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