Also posted in the Huffington Post
Notice the title doesn’t read “how to do what you love.” That’s because starting an entrepreneurial venture and doing what you love rarely mix. If you love to dance but can’t dance well, no one is going to pay you for dance lessons.
In short, the world doesn’t really care about what you love to do. President Kennedy’s “ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country,” isn’t just a social engagement call-to-action it’s a key business principle.
Does this mean that you can’t be happy being a business owner? Nope. Successful entrepreneurs are some of the happiest and busiest people on Earth, in fact they develop their passion for their business once they realize that it is taking them towards their goal, even if the passion wasn’t there to begin with.
So let’s start with your motivation or your “fire.” Why do you want to start a business? Opportunities to make money are endless, especially online, but don’t dive into a venture unless you know you have the grit, knowledge and will to do so.
First, think back to a time in your life that you truly felt unstoppable, that moment they were truly on “fire” (this is a metaphor folks). That could be your “aha moment” or something you could turn into a business; a simple Google search will tell you if others have done the same and what creative ways they’ve made it happen.
Your “fire” is lit when you feel confident to just do it, or just talk about it off the cuff, it could even be something that you do as a hobby or wouldn’t consider work. Your fire is not what you love to do, it’s what you do the best and your motivation for understanding why it is you do what you do.
Finding your fire is pivotal because that is the one thing that will help to motivate you and support you in the event that things get rough and when starting a business, things are always rough. Don’t like the word “fire,” and feel more ‘mission oriented’ then focus on a mission or a problem you’d like to tackle.
If you’re the type who has a bunch of great entrepreneurial ideas but can’t figure out which one to settle on, create a list and answer the following:
- Things I’m Good At
- Things I’ve Been Complimented on and Told I’m Good At by Strangers/Friends
- Things I Enjoy
- Things I Hate
- Problems I’ve Solved
- Problems I Would Like to Solve
Once you’ve created your list, understand that a majority of the weight has to be put on what you are good at/complimented on/best at and what is the biggest problem you feel you could solve or the biggest need that you could fill. Also pay attention to the Things I Hate category, can you develop a solution to any of those things? These are the key principles that Mj Demarco, self-made multi-millionaire and author of the bestselling book The Millionaire Fastlane told me when we exchanged emails on the subject.
Once you’ve narrowed down what you’re good at and what you feel you could offer people, you need to make some tactical decisions. How feasible is your idea? Does this idea mesh with your present and future goals? Do you have the money and time to start the idea? What is the competition like? Depending on who you are the answers to these questions will weigh differently in order of their importance to you.
This is why it’s best to try a Weighted Average Decision Matrix (WADM), what in the world is a WADM you ask? It’s a tool that allows you to weigh the importance of your decisions on a scale of one to 10 and then mathematically generate the best answer for you. This is best used when there are multiple decisions to be made and you can do so here where all the math is done for you.
If the WADM approach assisted in your decision-making the next step would be to validate and test your idea, both Tim Ferriss’ 4 Hour Workweek and Mj Demarco’s Millionaire Fastlane have great sections on testing and validating your business ideas from mock-adwords campaigns to market research and landing page variations.
Great! You’re ready to start your business but there’s just one more thing that you need that very few self-help experts will talk about and that’s taking action and kicking fear in the face. This is not appealing to talk about because it’s a soft-skill and not something with a clear and actionable formula. If you’re prone to overthinking and more reluctant to jump into a new venture, no amount of formulae will convince you to do so until your fears are overcome and addressed. In helping people overcome their often-times valid fear and reluctancy I’ve helped individuals realize where their fire came from which has led to some pretty outstanding results since they were able to use their fire to move past their fear and into strategic and calculated action designed to not disrupt their or their dependents lifestyles.
Is starting a business for everyone? No. Can you, with hard work and determination be successful in today’s market and break the 9 to 5 routine? Absolutely. You’ve just got to find your fire.