Follow Your Passion?
Today I gave some simple business advice to a colleague. The kind that I typically reserve for my consultation/coaching clients. She described a challenge that so many business owners face. She has a menu of valuable services and she is great at what she does and she loves her work.
Like many other people in business for themselves…she heard the message to “follow your passion” and she followed it. However, her service is something that people buy who have what I describe as “more than enough.” It is also a service that not everyone is willing to pay a fee for unless they already hold the service (professional organizing) in high regard and are humble enough to recognize the need.
What is Success?
She, like many service industry entrepreneurs, finds herself trying to stabilize her income and earn more than enough in her business to let go of other work. While it’s true that we should ideally do what we love; and it is also true that some people make a living building a business doing what they love…. we don’t hear as much as we need to about difficulties and challenges. Instead, we see what looks like “success” on the outside.
- We don’t always recognize that part of success is failure.
- Part of success is trial and error.
- Success also includes feeling lost and uncertain.
- At times success includes financial uncertainty.
Let’s face it, even big businesses fail. This is not to dissuade anyone from entrepreneurship. It is simply to validate what many of you already know – we learn the most about building and sustaining a business once we step onto the path and endeavor to stay on it.
- You will at times want to quit.
- Other times you’ll wonder why you started.
- Still other times you will be so fulfilled that you can’t imagine doing anything else.
So How Do Get to Earning a Living From Our Passion?
I’m sure there are many ways, however this is the one I recommend. I advise my coaching and consultation clients to identify a foundational service that people “need.” I define a foundational service as something that you can provide year round. It is also a service that some segment of an identifiable (or niche) population “must have.” Figuring this out will help you tremendously whether you have a service business or also incorporate products.
I gave the person I was advising this example: I provide professional learning services which include continuing education to maintain certifications and licensure for mental health professionals. This is an example of a foundational service because it is something that the population I serve needs to have. This does not mean that I am guaranteed success. But it does mean I have a clearly identifiable audience and that audience actually needs that service. I don’t have to convince them that they need the service, as much as I do need to remind them that the service is available and remain consistent. I have to be consistent in offering the service and telling people it’s available.
Know Yourself and Trust Your Passion
I prefer reminder marketing that demonstrates my capacity at professional development over trying to convince someone that they need it. While continuing education does ebb and flow…for the most part it is a service that I can provide throughout the year, year after year. I focus my training content on the areas of work and topics that I am passionate about. I decline or pass along opportunities that either don’t interest me or that are not in my area of expertise.
Some business coaches would say that’s the time to expand…bring on other providers and send them in your place. Some of you may choose to do that. It’s not what I choose to do because I don’t want to incorporate managing other facilitators as part of my work. That’s not my passion. Yes, being in business is in part about making money. However, it is also about freedom. At least for me that is what it’s about.
So it is not impossible but it is very difficult to build an ongoing business income, if what you offer is something that people only buy if they want to buy it and when they have the money to buy it. Even services that people want and need at times take a back seat to their available resources, time, and motivation to engage in the service.
Avoid Self Sabotage
Just think about how much energy and focus it takes on a given day to execute on any number of things. Sales coaches will teach you how to cultivate the “need” so people will buy. Those coaches aren’t wrong. But if you are like me – a service professional that doesn’t necessarily like sales but leans toward relationships – your aversion to sales will sabotage your business.
Following your passion isn’t wrong. Instead, it must be strategic. Determine something you can offer that is needed (within the context of what you enjoy). Remember a business isn’t built overnight. It is not a failure to keep your part time job or contract work. Don’t make assumptions about the relative success or failure of anyone’s business when you are looking at it from the outside. Stay focused on what you are building. Take it day by day, “step by step; brick by brick…go your own way.” Remember almost everything of value takes time to cultivate.
Copyright © 2018 Ruby Blow. All rights reserved.