Let me confess, I didn’t start off knowing that I want to be an author.
I also went through this phase of thinking what business I should start.
And although it took me a while to figure out what I love and what I’m good at, I’m glad that I’ve taken this path I’ve chosen.
Today, I’ll explain how I found my passion and turned it into a business.
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1. Rediscover Yourself
First, you need to become aware of your personality and potential.
This self-discovery journey allows you to understand yourself.
And it’s only by understanding yourself will you find your passion as well as potential businesses that you can start.
1a. Figure Our Who You Really Are
List down your personality traits. Or you can ask your friends and family what their opinion of you is.
Note that there might be differences between how you perceive yourself and how others perceive you.
Hence, it’s best to list down everything to get the big picture.
Here are some personality traits to get you started:
- introvert or extrovert
- planner or spontaneous
Or you can always do some personality tests like Myers Briggs to get an in-depth analysis of your personality type.
You will also need to note down negative traits like
This balanced view will reveal both your strengths and weaknesses. You can then narrow down the potential businesses based on your personality.
1b. List What You Love
Next, list down the items and activities you love. This could be
- your favorite bag, shoes, books, movies etc.
- writing, reading, running, shopping, dancing, playing the piano etc.
If you already have a collection of shoes, toy figurines or books, that’s the answer to what you love.
So are the hobbies that you engage frequently. Like traveling, crafts and cooking.
And by grouping them together, you can discover some suitable career paths. For example, if you have a collection of books and love reading and writing, you might consider literary jobs.
1c. List What You’re Good At
Also, list down your knowledge, skills and experience.
For instance, I’ve been working as a digital marketing specialist for a few years and hence, have built a solid foundation executing pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns like Google AdWords, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn.
You might also be someone who keep yourself up-to-date with technology, beauty etc. Or someone who always read news or blogs about certain topics and industries. By consuming so much information every day, you have cultivated sufficient knowledge to position yourself as an industry expert.
2. Find Common Ground
Now, draw a Venn diagram with 2 circles: what you love and what you’re good at.
Write everything you’ve listed above on the appropriate place in the diagram.
Notice how some things are listed in 1 circle while some are listed in the overlapping area between the two circles?
This overlapping area is where you should focus on. If possible, try to start a business that is related to this. Precisely because this is something you both love and are good at.
But of course, you can also start a business related to the things in just 1 circle itself. For instance, I love writing but I don’t think I’m a super talented writer (just a decent writer). Yet, I still want to create a business related to writing.
3. Explore Your Options
By now, you should have a few possible business ideas related to what you love and what you’re good at.
It might be a bit vague though. Like I mentioned, I wanted a writing-related business. But writing itself has many different types and certainly, many different career paths.
3a. Decide Between Online Or Offline Business
You can start off by asking yourself whether you prefer online or offline business. Here are some pros and cons:
(+) Easier to start: less cost
Most entrepreneurs begin with online business as the cost is lower (no physical store is needed). You just need a bank account and provide your service to people who need them.
(-) Some countries might be ineligible, esp. for non-US & non-UK
This will require some research on your end. For instance, Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing (where authors can self-publish books) only allows me to be paid by check .This is the only option based on where I live. I can’t sign up directly with Barnes & Noble Press (another self-publishing service) because it’s only open to certain countries. I will have to use an aggregator like Draft2Digital which distributes to multiple retailers while taking a cut of my royalty.
(+) Face-to-face interaction still has the human touch
Doing business behind a screen feels distant. Like you’re disconnected and not close to your customers and business partners. On the other hand, doing business face-to-face is like building a relationship. Your customers will also feel assured because they’re buying from a real person.
(-) Harder to start: more cost
Most people perceive offline business as more difficult and expensive to create. However, you can keep costs down by not buying or renting a physical store. You can create certain products and sell it to your friends and family. Or you can reach out to your community and tell them that you provide private tutoring, babysitting services etc.
Nowadays, the line between online and offline is blurring. You can sell physical goods but create an online store where you ship products overseas. Or even if you live in a small neighborhood with not many people, you can provide your services to a customer at the other side of the world.
3b. List Down Businesses You Will Never Consider
Finding what you want to do is always harder than finding what you don’t want to do.
So start simple.
Begin by listing down businesses that you can never imagine yourself doing. This can be due to your personality or your lack of interest in that area.
For example, I’m an introvert. So I prefer businesses behind a screen. And since I’m not good at persuasive speech, jobs related to sales isn’t my cup of tea. I also don’t like sports so sports-related business is definitely on this list.
Now try to apply this list to that Venn diagram earlier.
Like I mentioned, I like writing. But it isn’t all types of writing. I don’t really like editorial, academic or technical writing. Instead, I prefer creative writing like fiction novels.
This list of what you don’t like is easy to create and helps narrow down exactly which specific type of business you can potentially start.
4. Research The Business
Now that you have at least one potential business you are considering to create, begin your research.
You can read books and blog articles. Or join forums (even Reddit).
The point of this in-depth research is to get tips and strategies, especially the first few steps (step-by-step guide if possible) and how you can go about starting this business. Do heed the advice from experienced entrepreneurs who worked on the business for years.
Here are some important issues that you need to research about before starting your business:
- Is it easy to start this business?
- Is your country eligible?
- What items/documents do you require?
- Is this business viable?
- How is the industry outlook?
- Is the chance to succeed high?
- What are the costs involved?
- Do you need a high upfront investment at the start to create your products or services?
- Does it take a lot of time and effort to create a single product or service?
5. Narrow Down To Select Few Businesses
If you have more than one potential business idea, you can rate them based on what you’ve researched earlier.
You could create a table, listing the different potential business ideas and rating them based on the following factors
- How much you love this business
- How good you are and will be at this business
- Complexity of this business
- Investment, time and effort needed for this business
Lastly, ask yourself this: Can you foresee yourself still working on this business 3 years from now?
A business doesn’t take off in a month. It takes years to achieve success. Meaning that you may not make any profits in the first few months (or maybe even years). In fact, about 50% of small businesses fail in the first four years. Hence, ask yourself whether it’s really okay to work on this business for a few years.
You can then make a better decision based on these different ratings and opinions of the various business ideas.
Bonus Tip: Be A Freelancer
Starting a business can be daunting. You’ll have to sell your products and services, build your brand and earn consumers’ trust. This might be a challenge when you first embark on this journey since most people won’t know you.
Another option would be to join a freelance community and tap into the existing client base. For example, you could choose to be a freelancer at Fiverr or Fiverr Pro and offer services to its large community of buyers. These gigs can help to put your name on the map and build a portfolio that wins more clients. The biggest advantage, of course, is helping you get discovered by clients (rather than you searching for clients via cold calling).
After expanding your client base by leveraging these freelance communities’ existing networks, you can scale your freelance business with tools like FreshBooks. The right business tool will help you save time so you can focus on tasks that matter.
- Invoicing: Get paid upfront with deposits, easily add your tracked time and expenses to your invoices, establish a stable cashflow with retainers
- Expenses: Auto-categorization of expenses, automatically import expenses from your bank
- Time Tracking: Time keeping for your entire team with built in, easy to use timer on desktop and mobile
- Projects: Manage team projects and deliverables, chat and collaborate on work
- Estimates: Track estimate status from viewed to accepted, turn an estimate into an invoice, easily add a discount
- Payments: Set up online payments in a single click, offer clients flexibility with payment schedules and partial payments
- Accounting: Double-Entry Accounting, Automated Bank Reconciliation
- Reports: Confidently tackle tax time with ready-made financial reports
- Mobile: Create professional invoices on the go, sync data across all devices
Now It’s Your Turn
I highly recommend that you only focus on one business at a time. Don’t divide your energy and effort among the different businesses you have or you might end up as a Jack of all trades, master of none.
No matter which type of business you start, as the entrepreneur, you’re the one who decides how fast your business grows.
Instead of pacing too fast or too slow, you should grow at the pace your business allows.
Let’s say you own an offline business, you can start by only selling to your local country. Only after sales has become stable and you have experience securely wrapping and mailing parcels, you can try expanding to other areas.
And here’s to hoping that everyone finds success in doing what they love~!