So you want to create a business doing work you love?
You’ve realized that you’re too smart, creative, ambitious and can’t live with the idea of wasting your time, talent, and potential working a 9-5 job that doesn’t fulfill you.
Maybe you have skills, knowledge, life experience or expertise that could be valuable to someone else and feel a deep calling to make a difference in the world by supporting, impacting and inspiring other people to live their best life.
But there’s one problem—you don’t know where to start!
Like most of us, you probably turned to Google for the answers! But after skimming through several of blogs, reading a couple of ebooks, and listening to a few podcasts, you still feel stuck.
Look, there’s no shortage of information out there about how to start a successful online business. Problem is, there’s so much bad advice that can leave you feeling frustrated, overwhelmed, and ready to throw in the towel.
I call it the Buffet of Bad Business Advice, where so-called “experts” tell you to first create a website, start a blog, build an email list, or grow your social media following.
Don’t get me wrong, these things are used to support a successful business, but it’s NOT where you start.
I’ve interviewed over 100+ entrepreneurs, including Tim Ferriss, who’ve created successful businesses doing work they love. In this post I’ll share the single, most effective strategy successful entrepreneurs use to create businesses doing work they love.
To avoid confusion, I’ll only focus on the ONE place you must start to guarantee you’re building the right business.
By the time you’re done reading this, you’ll walk away with the clarity you need to get unstuck and get started so that you can create a business doing work you love.
But, before we dive into that, let’s talk about where NOT to start.
Part 1: The Wrong Way to Build Your Business
When deciding which business direction to go in, there’s a right and a wrong way to do it.
For a second, think back to that moment when you first decided you wanted to start your own business…
Like most of us, you probably got a little tripped up when asking yourself, “what business should I start?”
This is thee number one question that stops most people in their tracks.
Most people look for guidance by leaning on expert opinion, and like most people you likely heard the same bad advice that keeps so many of us stuck trying to figure out how to build the right business.
Can you guess what it is? I’ll give you a hint…
It’s the same advice given to college students when picking a major, graduates before starting their career, and now aspiring entrepreneurs looking to start their own thing.
We’ve been told in books, motivational talks, and by well known “experts” that the key to living a happy life and doing work you love is to simply “follow your passion.”
I’ll be the first to admit, daydreaming about running a thriving business built around my passions sounds amazing. But can you imagine how agonizing it must be for someone who has no idea what they’re passionate about?
While it sounds good in theory, in practice it doesn’t hold up—especially in business.
I’ll give it to you straight…
The worst thing you can do when starting a business is follow your passion. It’s not only misleading, but it’s bad advice that can be detrimental to your business success.
“Follow your passion” is an outdated idea that became popular around the 1970s that suggests if you want to be successful and do fulfilling work, you must find your passion and match your passion to a job.
Fast forward 45 years later, and the research gathered on workplace satisfaction makes one thing abundantly clear—following your passion is not a reliable route to doing work you love.
When this theory is applied to finding the right career, studies show that people who pursue their passion often suffer with financial instability and self-confidence because they’re more likely to jump from job-to-job in search of work they love.
Apply this same theory to business and you get many people struggling to make money doing what they are passionate about, jumping from one business idea to the next and falling victim to self-doubt.
This isn’t meant to be a war on passion! Actually, passion is important when it comes to your business—it’s just not where you start. (more on this in a bit!)
Part 2: The Danger of Starting with Passion
There are many reasons why following your passion is bad business advice. I could go on ad nauseum about this topic so I’ll save you the headache and just name a few.
Here are three main reasons why “follow your passion” is dangerous:
1. “Follow your passion” is vague.
This mantra creates too much ambiguity and is difficult to define. Any business that hopes to thrive needs clarity and a well-thought-out strategy. Everything from your target audience to your offer has to be specific if you want specific results (e.g., paying customers), and following your passion is anything but specific!
It can leave you with a puzzled look on your face, asking way too many questions like:
- How do I even follow my passion?
- Which passion will make money?
- What if I’m passionate about a lot of things?
- What if I’m not passionate about anything?
One of the most valuable assets in the early stages of business is clarity in what you do and why you do it. And if you’re not clear on this, you’re lost.
2. Many people don’t have pre-existing passions.
It’s wishful thinking to assume everyone is either born with a calling to do something specific or can easily pinpoint their passions. The reality is, many people have no idea what they’re passionate about. This is particularly true for people who are starting a new career or business.
3. Passions often don’t translate to a profitable business.
The cold, hard truth is that many of us are passionate about things that unfortunately don’t translate to a profitable business. On the flip side, not all profitable passions translate to work you’ll love.
For example, you can love to do yoga, but the moment you turn it into a business where you’re teaching classes each week, you may come to realize that you love yoga, but hate teaching it.
Or you can take if from Paul Archer, founder of Duel, a Customer Advocacy Marketing platform. He’s a perfect example of someone who turned his passion into his work and came to regret it.
Paul is passionate about travel, and eventually wrote a book about it, only to realize that creating a business around his passion made exploring the world less enjoyable!
Now he says:
“I can still fulfill my passion and travel to far-flung parts of the world and do it for myself, not for anybody else. I don’t have to film it. I don’t have to update my social media to ensure I have enough clicks and likes.”
As you can see, there are so many reasons why “follow your passion” is terrible advice for people just getting started, and I’m not alone on this one!
Cal Newport, Georgetown University professor and author of, So Good They Can’t Ignore You: Why Skills Trump Passion in the Search For Work You Love, says…
“Telling someone to follow their passion—from an entrepreneur’s point of view—is disastrous. That advice has probably resulted in more failed businesses than all the recessions combined…because that’s not how the vast majority of people end up owning successful businesses.”
Sadly, many people set out to start businesses that are designed to fail because they’ve started their business off on the wrong foot.
Starting with your passion brings a snowball of problems that include:
- Not knowing where or how to start
- Struggling to find a good idea
- Feeling torn between too many business ideas or
- Starting a business that you come to resent
This can result in years of wasted time trying to build a business around a bad idea. And beyond the time wasted, what’s even more damaging is that it delivers a major blow to your confidence.
You become victim to fear, uncertainty, and self-doubt that can cause you to reconsider if you’re even cut out for entrepreneurship.
Starting your business doesn’t have to be overly complicated and overwhelming if you know where to start!
Part 3: Where to START if you want to create a business you love
While other people run around chasing their passions, I’m going to show you what I’ve learned by studying and interviewing over 100 successful entrepreneurs who do what they love for a living.
Over the past 5 years, I’ve spent countless hours analyzing and deconstructing successful entrepreneurs across different industries to discover how they’ve built their businesses.
After studying them, I realized there was a common theme among them, one distinct element that these entrepreneurs used to build the foundation of a successful business.
A successful business doing what you love starts with what you’re good at.
Instead of taking the outdated traditional approach of following your passion, develop your passion by following what you’re good at.
I call it the Passion Paradigm.
Here’s how it works…
Your greatest potential to ignite passion from your work often comes after you’ve discovered, mastered and applied what you’re good at. This underlying principle gives us the most effective formula for finding true love in the work we do.
If you think about it for a minute, I’m sure you can find plenty of examples in your own life where this rings true.
I want you to think back to a time when you actively engaged in something you were naturally good at…
Do you remember how you felt doing it? Do you recall that instance where the better you’d get at it, the more excited you were to do it and the more passionate you become about it?
For me, I can think of many examples of how the Passion Paradigm plays out in my life, especially in my business, but I like to bring it all back to when I was a kid.
I remember playing Super Mario Kart. I was really good at that game and would play for hours day-after-day. I got so good, I’d practically beg people to play me because I knew I’d win. And above anything else, don’t we love how it feels to win?!
If you want to create a successful business doing work you love that sparks true passion, you have to recreate the experience of what it feels like to win, and it all starts with what you’re good at.
I like to think of it as a compass that helps you move forward in the right direction no matter how lost, stuck, or confused you may feel. By knowing what you’re good at, you’ll have the guidance you need to make the best decisions for you and your business.
Part 4: Discover What You’re Good At
Now that you know where to start, how do you figure out what you’re good at?
Discovering what you’re good at is an introspective process, that can feel a lot like taking a bunch of random computer parts and trying to make it work.
Lucky for you, I’ve got something to help you put your insights into action!
I’ve created The Ultimate Guide to Discover What You’re Good At, a step-by-step action plan that helps you uncover your hidden talents, highlight your knowledge, and identify your skills so that you can create a business doing work you love.
Inside you’ll learn:
- The science behind why your talents are the most important thing to pay attention to when building your business
- How to uncover your unique talents that are hiding in plain sight and use them to make important business decisions
- How to highlight your knowledge and use it to guide the value you offer in your business
- How to identify specific skills that you’ve mastered and use them to grow your business
Whether you’re ready to start a new business, or have an existing business that needs restructuring to align with what you’re good at, you can use your new insights to create a business doing work you love!
You’ll finally get the clarity you need to get unstuck and create the right business.