Thanks for your insight. I'm building side-projects as well and I always warn my potential clients and employers that I do that. I do run into a lot of "khm, I'm not sure we want you to do that" vibe. I actually got so tired of hearing this, that I decided to do a leap of fate -- and went full time to build something that could sustain myself.
I do still miss working for clients -- it's always interesting to see what other teams have been doing, what issues they are solving with their business.
I think that's a point that is often not stated. I hear stories of freelancers who moved on to fully supporting their own products, and it's interesting to note that many of them do miss the social interaction they got from working with their clients. When heading towards doing your own thing, you have to be careful not to take away all of the support structures you rely on all at once.
In most cases, that uncomfortable vibe comes from a lack of trust and initial skittishness. In most client situations, I tend to avoid mentioning my side projects for that reason. But once they get to know your work, and the level of dedication you can give them (a.k.a. once you make enough deposits into the trust bank), you can start to be more open about the things you do.
Non-makers tend to be less comfortable with it regardless, and I think it comes from not necessarily being able to empathize. Imagine telling Leonardo Da Vinci he needs to spend his career painting insipid advertisements for used car dealerships, and it's a close enough analogy. The dude just wants to set aside some time to paint something beautiful that makes him happy.
I've been on other side of the fence (CTO) -- and I've been positively impressed by people that manage to do something on the side (side projects, business, open-source, meetups..). I was actually more likely to hire them as well -- those people learn on their own expense. Not a single regret hiring such a person. Even if they quit, they still rooted for companies success as much as they could (recommended to their friends, gave technical advice for free then we needed)
I grown so accustomed to this. That I've been open about this to my potential clients -- "Hey. I know what it takes to run a business. I have offline business that works without me being around, I built my own apps. I can speak your language, I can understand your business challenges".
Your not the first person who mentions that I shouldn't speak about that. But I have issues with lying... and it feels so wrong that people see this from a negative side...
It's all about who you're working with and how it's done. In an ideal world where we didn't have to sell ourselves to eat, we would be able to turn down every gig where we get a bad feeling about the other party.
But as we start to build up that bolus of cash to buffer ourselves from people we don't like, we get more opportunities to be our authentic selves. I wish this didn't have to be the case, but that is the capitalistic system we live in.
The last thing I want to do is tell people not to be their authentic selves. That's horrible. It's the reason I'm working so hard to build a cash machine that sustains my creative endeavors. Life is way better with more freedom.
Still, some people are at the very beginning of their careers, don't have a lot in investments, and face a situation where they have to work for someone they don't like, just to get started. And in that situation, I think it's fair to say, "just play along until you've saved up enough money or find something better. These people you don't like don't need to know your life story."
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