So you’re a business owner and that’s pretty cool. You’re probably doing a lot of things right, making great business decisions and keeping everything running smoothly. You’ve probably also got a few pet projects going, those projects you’ve wanted to do for a while and are a lot of fun but may not be completely vital to your business and its success.

One of the keys to keeping your business successful and managing your time is knowing when to leave these pet projects behind. They may be tons of fun but those projects can easily spiral out of control, taking you away from the core duties of running your business. After more than 14 years in business, we’ve had to let go of a few of our own beloved projects, so we know the signs they’ve gone bad. Here’s what to watch out for in your pet projects.

It’s part of an old business model

Just because you’ve been doing something for several years is not a valid reason to keep doing it. Face it – your business has and will continue to change over the years. It’s easier to embrace the change than to fight it. If you’re doing things exactly the way you did 5 years ago, without any change, it is time to think about how all your projects fit into your overall business model.

For example, for about four years (2004 – 2008) Roundpeg published a comprehensive calendar filled with all sorts of networking events in the Indianapolis area. It took hours to keep it updated, but it was worth the effort because it gave us a lot of networking credibility and gave us the reputation of being “in the know” in Indy business.

While that was great back then, we’ve since grown our reputation based on the quality of work and not just our networking connections. We finally said “buh-bye” to that event calendar and freed up that manpower (actually woman power as Rebecca was the muscle behind the calendar) to be used in areas more conducive to our current business plan. Be willing to shed those activities that haven’t grown along with you.

It keeps getting put on the backburner

Some of your great ideas never get out of the planning phase – that’s the nature of business. If there’s a project you feel could be great, but it always stays in the planning phase that’s because it’s just not important to your success, it may be time to cut it loose and give yourself permission to step away. That’s not a bad thing, and it doesn’t mean you failed or your idea was bad – it just means it’s not the right idea for you at this time.

Example (yes, I’m giving examples for all of these): One of our long-standing clients had an idea to create an “advisory board” of social influencers in their community. The objective was to use these people to create buzz among their target demographic and grow their social networks. For months we went back and forth proposing alternative dates, event formats and other ways to put this plan into action. Every time we met we talked about it, but there were always more pressing projects. We finally helped our client realize the right thing to do was to shelve the idea indefinitely and stop feeling guilty about it as we focused on actions which would drive more immediate results. It wasn’t a bad idea, it just wasn’t the right time.

There’s no clearly-defined purpose

The projects you do on the side should be fun, or else you’ll find yourself burnt out on the extra work. But fun shouldn’t be the only prerequisite for investing time and energy into a pet project. To make it worth your while, it needs to have a clearly-defined purpose and tie into your overall business. Think of it like a webpage – if it doesn’t have a call to action to move your potential customers along towards a purchase, then it isn’t tied in to your business in a meaningful way, and it’s time to bid that project farewell.

Example from the Roundpeg School of Hard Knocks: Roundpeg Radio was a fun way to wrap up the week. Using Grooveshark, every Friday morning we live streamined a playlist of jams, tunes and good times.  We used Twitter to solicit requests around a weekly theme and drove traffic to our website where the player was embedded. For a while it generated a lot of interaction.

Then the novelty wore off. The list of suggestions dwindled, and while it was still fun, it was also a lot of work. There was no conversion point to the rest of our business and it and let’s face it, music is not our core product. We had fun and learned a lot along the way, but we knew it was time to turn our attention to something a little closer to our core expertise. Thus, Roundpeg Radio left the airwaves.

Time to Let go

Want your business to grow and change? You need to try new things. And some times you need to let go of a pet project or two to make room for something new. As masters of the art of cutting loose projects that slow us down, we want to help you build the skills to do the same. Give us a call to discuss where you can save time, and what projects you need to let go.


Roundpeg is an Indianapolis marketing strategy firm.