May 17th, 2010

Iron Man? Spider-man? Batman? Most super heroes are side projects. Just like yours.

Iron Man? Spider-man? Batman? Most super heroes are side projects. Just like yours.

I know you’re busting your ass, Mr. and/or Mrs. Startup type. I know you’re working hard on a side project or idea while continuing to slave away at the day job. All in the hopes that someday—someday—you might get to turn that side project into a full-time gig. But it can be taxing. I know it.

So every once in awhile, I like to try to give you a little motivation. A little help. A little something that makes staying up that extra four hours a little easier. And that little something today is this: Most of your favorite super heroes are actually side projects.

I hear you. “WTF is he talking about now?”

But bear with me. Let’s take a few minutes to think about what you’re doing in the context of being a super hero. First off, because you are pretty heroic following your dream. And second, because it might just give you that inspiration you need. Third, it just goes to show that you can do something incredible that has nothing to do with revenue.

I mean, just stop and think about it for a second.

Most super heroes don’t do that whole super hero thing as their full-time gig. In fact, most of them have got a day job. The super hero thing? It’s a side project, true believer. It’s something they do in their free-time.

That’s right. Super heroes? Just a bunch of working stiffs with 9-to-5 jobs. But with amazingly awesome side projects on which they work when they’re not in the office.

Peter Parker? Day job. Superman? Day job. Tony Stark? Day job. Bruce Wayne? Day job. Fantastic Four? Day job, day job, day job, day job. And they were astronauts. ASTRONAUTS. And they still felt like pursuing their side project. Or maybe Reed Richards pushed them into it.

Whatever. The point is they could have been doing something else. Profitable. You get the drift.

All of these folks had a much more lucrative and profitable careers than “being a super hero.” But guess what they decided to do? They decided to do what they knew they had to do. To follow their passion.

I mean, what if they had said “There’s no business model or revenue stream for this whole ‘saving people’ thing. So I’m not going to do it.”? That would have been a huge loss. Your not following your intuition—not pursuing your side project—could be an equally big loss.

What? You’re still not buying it?

Okay. How about this? Super heroes even start their side projects the same way entrepreneurs do. And much like Web startups, it doesn’t much matter what name you choose for the project. You just have to do it.

Let’s take Peter Parker. He’s minding his own business when suddenly he’s bitten by the startup bug. And he realizes that he has something special. Something he could call his own. Something with which he could change lives.

Or Bruce Wayne. After his own trauma, he recognizes the inefficiencies of the municipal justice system. Frustrated, he develops a way to shortcut the red tape and bring criminals to justice. And he bootstraps his own business and brings on a partner to make it happen. He even gets additional assistance from friends and family.

Or Tony Stark who, after tinkering with some technology, figures out a better way to do what his massive corporation does. But he continues to pursue it and use it for good even though—let’s be honest—the capital expenditures have his startup deep in the red.

Or take Bruce Banner. I mean, he used to just get angry about the way things were. But once he found a startup that needed him, he was much much happier. For a little while anyway. He’s kind of a serial entrepreneur that one.

Heck, Professor Xavier liked his side project so much, he started a startup incubator that helps other mutants learn how to turn their side projects into full-time gigs. He’s like the venture capitalist of the super hero world.

Same with Nick Fury. Making connections among super heroes so that they could form more viable startups.

I could go on and on—in the Marvel universe at least—about examples of how what you’re doing, what you’re pursuing, is much the same as many of the super heroes out there. Because they saw a problem. They encountered something they knew they could fix. They took a risk to make something better. Or they simply were born with the skills to make it happen.

However you look at it, super heroes start as side projects. And sometimes they become startups. But they have to follow their passion first. And it has nothing to do with revenue. Or business acumen. Or ROI. It has to do with solving a problem. And making something better than what exists today.

So what side project are you pursuing? You could be the next super hero.

(Image courtesy popculturegeek. Used under Creative Commons.)

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11 Responses to “Iron Man? Spider-man? Batman? Most super heroes are side projects. Just like yours.”

  1. Bruce Wayne is in the DC universe. Yes, I am a comic geek who had to nitpick.

  2. Ken Westin says:

    And sometimes a startup becomes a real super hero, solves crimes and even stars in their own comic book ;-)

  3. Roger Crow says:

    Interesting points but would be much more helpful with actual real people examples to illustrate your point. I’m sure there are some out there, but it would be nice to have them listed instead of fictional characters. thanks for the thought anyway, RC

  4. Rick Turoczy says:

    @grigs You’re absolutely right. Of course he is. I didn’t mean to imply that he was part of the Marvel universe. I was just saying that my knowledge tends to be more entrenched in Marvel than DC. ;)

  5. Thanks for the pep-talk Rick!

  6. Beautiful post! Very inspiring!

    I love Metaphors and this is the best one I have heard for budding entrepreneurs.

  7. wongpk says:

    In short, side project is a hobby and passion. Any side project can be both beneficial or profitable, but don’t get too deep into it. I wasn’t a web geek so I take web design as a hobby until it grow too big and eventually I leave everything down and pursuit web design. My problem now is, I am more happy to do free than to charge -_-”

  8. Drew says:

    This was an awesome post! You really get where these characters are coming from. It’s not about using your abilities to thwart evil, it’s all about creating a successful company!

  9. Gabi says:

    Awesome post Rick, very inspirational and true! “There’s no business model or revenue stream for this whole ’saving people’ thing!”

    Lets change the world!

  10. [...] Iron Man? Spider-man? Batman? Most super heroes are side projects. Just like yours. [...]

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