Today’s interview is with sidepreneur Kristaps Lazda. I connected with Kristaps through email outreach…I love it because part of why I started Sidepreneurial is to connect with other sidepreneurs. Kristaps has a very strong software background because both his career and side business are anchored in software programming and development.
He gave some really insightful answers to my questions so let’s dive right in!
What Is Your Day Job And What Is Your Side Business?
I am currently managing a team of developers located in Riga, Latvia, called CRISP. We work as an outsource partner for branding and digital agencies in the United States and Europe. Our main focus is on WordPress and Shopify site and plugin development.
My daily to-do list consists of tasks such as finding new clients, managing recurring operations and even jumping in to help other project managers to deal with more challenging clients.
My side business is a web-based app called Specfox. It is a tool aimed at simplifying the website specifications writing process when handing off website designs to developers. This side project has been an exciting adventure for the past 12 months. At the moment, my best efforts and night shifts are focused on attracting new users and spreading the word about the app.
How Did You Choose Your Side Business?
The European startup market has emerged rather recently as compared to its American counterpart. As a professional in the field of web tech, it was easy to see the wave coming. The statistics warned about it – capitals around Central and Eastern Europe are ranked yearly as powerful startup hubs nowadays. But it’s even more than that. It’s a buzz that one can effortlessly sense. Everybody wants to push their big idea forward, people gained more self-trust and are genuinely prepared to risk a lot over a concept that came up while having a beer with their friends. It’s exciting and it’s simple to get caught by it.
The insight for Specfox hit me while spending hours on preparing project descriptions for the developers at CRISP, so during my day job. I thought that there should be a way, one at hand, like a software that could ease up the process. The search for a tool that could solve this issue returned no satisfying results, so I decided to go for it and develop one myself. The opportunity was there and I was fortunate enough to already work with plenty of great developers. The only challenge was to find time for it.
How Do You Find Time To Work On Your Side Business?
This is obviously the most sensitive aspect in running a side business. Luckily, I came up with this idea in August, last summer. This is generally a lighter period in my field of work – there aren’t as many client projects. So it was the perfect time to roll out a proof of concept really quickly and check if people would be using it. The received feedback was extremely positive. As all signs were suggesting, I decided to continue believing in this tool and invest both time and money in building it. But autumn came too quickly and the client work at the office boomed, so my side project was pushed on the side, more often and much further than what I was expecting.
It was late December when I managed to get back to Specfox. It is not as easy as it seems to recollect after taking a break on your sidepreneurship project. But the startup noise is always playing in the background around here. I really trusted this idea and I wanted to pursue it.
What’s Working For You Right Now In Growing Your Side Business?
As funds come in limited amounts I’m focusing mainly on reaching and engaging my target through our social media assets by keeping the conversation up with relevant content. I am also doing different things that don’t scale to get initial traction and attract our product users.
There is a lot of direct messaging, attracting attention in forums and Facebook pages and building online relationships. I like to reach out to people all over the world, get their feedback and insights for developing new features. I am thankful to all of those users that take the time to offer their input and interact with us and the app.
I only wish I had been more active online during recent years, though. I have neglected my online presence and now it feels like starting from zero. But this also has its good side, I guess.
I am also planning to reach out to potential investors in the future. Nevertheless, as Specfox is my first project of this kind, I’m really interested in challenging myself for as long as I can.
What Advice Can You Give Someone Who Is Thinking About Starting A Side Business?
Time management is the most critical aspect of managing a side business. Not only in Europe but all around the World many people can’t financially afford to concentrate solely on their big idea – especially when it’s one that needs time to reach a particular growth stage. When you hear business experts talking about how important is for a new product to become viral soon after its launch because otherwise the customer acquisition cost might be too much for a new company to handle you start doubting yourself. So you need to manage both the fear that you’re not growing fast enough and manage your time, that is also a limited resource.
Most aspiring sidepreneurs underestimate this challenge and think they can be a 24/7 task-completing octopus. I went through the process of acknowledging that handling two jobs at the same time can be tiring, but now I can advise: find someone to whom you could delegate some of your daily tasks. You will avoid the risk of exhaustion due to overworking, and you will be able to invest time in your side business and still be hands-on in your day job. Your project needs you.