So today we are going to talk about how to find your passion in your small business. This one is a super touchy topic for many of us… especially when we don't exactly know our passion (or think we do but don't know how to make money with it).
It is really easy for people like Oprah or Richard Branson. They seemed to have been born knowing what they wanted to do and are just implementing against that plan. Even “normal-ish” people like Liz Gilbert (who wrote Big Magic and Eat Pray Love) will tell you that she always knew she wanted to be a writer.
But what about the rest of us? Those of us out here flailing around trying to figure this shit out?
Well I have heard too much of “there is no way for someone to tell you your passion.” I am going to help you figure it out today!
There are clues to what you should be doing to make you happy and we will go over some ways to uncover them!
My Passion History
So let's take a look at my passion history so you can see how flawlessly (JOKING) I got here! Back in 2001 I started a marketing company and did a bunch of websites and some SEO for clients. It was okay and I really enjoyed learning new things, but once I got good at that kind of marketing, it was a little boring.
In 2006 I had the the great idea to become a Realtor. The market was HOT here in Florida and it seemed like easy money. I started up my practice and was doing really well, then I got a partner who was not a good fit for me and eventually quit the real estate biz. During that time I learned A LOT about being a successful Realtor, how to get listings and make sales. In fact, the only part I actually liked about real estate was the marketing (which I was exceptionally good at!)
From about 2008-2009 I worked with a partner to try and get a monthly marketing product to take hold. At the same time I was building up this site, with a heavy focus on Realtor Marketing. The search engines loved me! In 2010 I was dumped by my partner (to this day I am not sure what happened, but it turned out to be a blessing in disguise). I realized I didn't just like Realtor Marketing, I like all marketing.
Around 2012 I started the Marketing and Media Monsters with my bestie Rebekah and we had a BLAST. We wrote books and held events and were asked to speak around the country. But we weren't great at making money. In fact, it was our different approaches to how to make money that kept us from being good at it. I was in marketing nirvana, but had to stop to be able to make a living.
In 2013 my husband and I adopted 3 kids and my life had to change. If I wanted to stay in business, not only did I have to make money, but I also had to do it in less than 18 hours a day.
In (some) desperation I hired a really top level coach who I thought super highly of and asked him what to do. His advice was what I had heard over and over again, do Realtor Marketing, focus on that and everything will be perfect…sigh.
So starting in 2015 I set out on a mission to find my passion. The first thing I did was open a digital products store on Etsy. My marketing friends were shocked… Etsy? Who the hell sells on Etsy? But I had tried to sell digital products on my own website and had fallen flat on my face again and again. I needed that third party help with ready customers to grow my business.
So, not dismal, but not anything to write home about (yet). I figured out that I like selling on a site that does all the heavy lifting for me (does the logins and fulfillment and reporting).
So I started a jewelry making store of course. If I liked selling digital so much, why wouldn't I like making jewelry in my spare time. So I at least made it relevant to my audience (work necklaces) and got started. And found out I like selling a physical product VERY much…. but maybe not one that I had to make myself. I had thought I could use my graphic design skills in conjunction with my necklace thing and wah, wah, wah. People LOVED them, but it was really hard to find time to make them and the margins were not going to be that great.
And then I moved back to Florida. But right before that I started Ebay and Etsy stores selling vintage products. I KNOW, my timing is never great, but I am eager. It worked out well because we were looking for a home that would have storage space for my vintage business. My hubs found a home with three garages (I got the third one) and office space and huge upstairs closet.
Since then I have focused very well on growing my vintage inventory, selling and shipping and sharing my Etsy Marketing tips.
I have gotten SO MUCH recognition and sales from the Etsy community in a much shorter time than I ever had for the Real Estate marketing or book marketing and I am happy. I am speaking about Etsy Marketing locally and growing my own physical products business WHILE continuing to sell digital products that help other people!
I have whittled all my websites down to just 4 and am simply working on growing what I have. I am excited AND content.
So Why Did It Take So Damn Long?
Well I had to try a bunch of things that would allow me to have experience in wide variety of talents. It was only by taking that time and then REFLECTING on what it meant that got me on the right track (at 50 years old!)
Here is what my “passions” timeline looks like…
So at each of these I learned a skill or craft that helps me now. Doing websites in 2001 meant that I had to learn how to use design software like Photoshop and Illustrator. Doing social media in 2010 is helping me now to grow my sales using Pinterest. Knowing how to do SEO means that I am good at getting my products to show up in search (and I am able to sell SEO products).
To Do – So if you are still looking for your passion, stop right now and make yourself a timeline! Write down each of your major business events and then what you learned that can help now or what you liked about it.
This is not a time to beat yourself up about what you have failed at, instead you are just making an inventory of what you are good at or like doing.
To Do – Now write down the things that don't work for you! It is time to stop making the same mistakes over and over again.
For me that is having partners. I don't know why I thought I needed partners to be successful, but over the years they have been okay, great, bad, fun and generally kept me from being as focused and strategic as I needed to be.
A Word About Quitting
As you do this exercise, you may find that you have “quit” a lot of things or stopped and started a bunch of times. You may have tried some things over and over or just done everything with no real plan.
Many of my readers are in the United State and a bit older. We grew up during a time when you would stay at a job for years just so your resume didn't look like you were jumping around.
Stopping doing something or changing directions is not quitting. It is making a measured decision to go in a different direction.
If you are going to find your passion, you need to realize that every one of those things you “quit” probably had pieces of something that you learned that can help you with your passion.
What Would You Do All Day Every Day If You Could
I have coached loads of entrepreneurs over the years and the most powerful question I ask them is this… “what would you do all day, every day if you could”.
For me it is writing. I love writing my blogs and writing product descriptions and writing books.
To Do – Answer that question. Your answer may be talking to people or surfing the internet or selling Amway. It might be making cool hoodies or reading tarot cards. It doesn't matter what it “should” be or if you can figure out how to make money doing it yet! Just name the darn thing!
Your Passion Versus What You Are Good At
So here are some things I am good at…
- Make pretty pictures (graphic design)
- Make forms (I do that A LOT)
- Buy things at auctions
- Root around in yucky garages to find switch plate covers
- Do SEO research
- Public speaking
I have learned how to do these things (and found out I liked them) by doing many different jobs over the years. Had I not done websites, I would never have found out I like SEO. Had I not done so much speaking I would never know that making videos that help people gives me that same rush.
To Do – Write down things you are good at. This may be your passion or may not. I mostly find that we have a lot more things that we are good at than things we are passionate about. Pick your top 10.
What Everyone Else Thinks You Are Good At
This one is super fun. While you are gathering all this information about yourself, ask at least 5 people around you what they think you are good at.
Make sure they are not all the same type of people (like family members). Try and make them in different areas of your life. So ask your favorite family member, a client, a customer, your pastor, a fellow committee member, or your coach.
To Do – Ask 5 people what they think you are good at. Tally them up and put them in order from most popular to least.
Finding Your Business Passion
This is not a science, it is definitely more of an art. To find your passion you have to look at a bunch of different data and then figure out what it all means.
Do all of your people say you are a great public speaker? Is that on your list of things you like to do? Well then you need to make sure you have that on your radar.
Make a plan for your business that incorporates that in. Maybe right now no one will pay you $10K to speak at their event, but if you don't have public speaker “stuff” available, then surely no one will.
You cannot image how many times I have helped someone to find their passion, only to find out they don't do it or sell it. Or they can't see how it could ever make them money.
At this point you don't need to figure it all out, it is simply enough to know more about yourself and what will really make you happy and fulfilled.
If you would like help doing this I am doing an EXTREMELY limited number of reviews with people to help them find their passions and then make a plan for how to implement them. Simply email me with your name, phone number and a brief description of your business and I will see if I think I can help. Tara (at) marketingartfully.com.