When I grow up, I want to be unemployed.
That’s what I told the school guidance counselor. It made perfect sense. Why would I work my ass off in a job when I could just enjoy myself being unemployed?
Don’t you agree?
Thinking about it today, it still makes sense. As long as I have these two things:
- Money to pay the bills
We all want to do something meaningful. And to do that, you don’t need a job. But you need money to pay the bills.
My goal is to have enough passive income to support myself, so I can do whatever fulfills me. I haven’t changed my mind since childhood…
But in the meantime, my solution is to combine 1 and 2.
What about you? Are you do something meaningful that also pays the bills? And if not, why not?
I get it. Life is comfortable. It feels secure.
You’re okay with your job. It’s not the best job ever, but it’s fine. And you’re contributing to the success of a company (or at least that’s what you tell yourself).
You’re having fun at the week-end. You’ve got your family and friends. You go on holiday.
Your life is meaningful in many ways.
Cool. But what about doing something really meaningful? What about bringing change in the world? What about making a real impact?
Would you be interested in getting paid for doing the work you want, on your terms?
And I’m going to help you achieve that goal in a minute. But first, we’ve got a couple of things to get out of the way.
You’ve heard the advice: “Follow Your Passion”. And you’ve also probably heard the counter-argument: “Following your passion is crappy advice”. If you do a Google search for “follow your passion”, you’ll come across a plethora of articles telling you you shouldn’t just follow your passion.
I agree with those articles, for the most part. Following your passion often doesn’t pay the bills. But they downplay it too much.
You need passion! It’s a key ingredient to building a successful business, even if it’s not the only ingredient.
And here’s the other thing: we live in a competitive world. The Internet has become a busy (and noisy) place. To stand out online is increasingly harder.
That means you need an effective strategy if you want to build a profitable business doing what you want.
Now that we’re clear, let’s get back to our goal of getting paid for doing the work we want. To achieve that goal, we’re looking for a simple and effective system.
What we want is to PaVE the way, that is:
Ready to make an impact and fight for your purpose to reclaim your freedom? Then, read on.
What’s passion to you? My definition is: something that brings you excitement and fulfillment. And here’s why you need both…
To stay motivated and energized, you need excitement. Excitement will get you up in the morning. It will keep you engaged and rekindle your spark.
When the going gets tough, pushing through it without excitement is a lot harder.
So, whatever you decide you want to pursue as a business, make sure you’re excited about it.
Have you already decided on what you want to pursue? If so, how do you feel about it?
Are you so impatient to get going you can’t stand in place? Can you feel it in your gut?
If not, you need to pause and reflect. Keep digging until you find something that gives you a physiological reaction.
And if you want to learn more about energy and motivation, check out the In & Out Rule.
The sister of excitement is fulfillment. Excitement from the anticipation of rewards gives you your dopamine fix.
But fulfillment answers your need for self-actualization. It drives you at a deeper level.
What fulfills you is unique to you. I can’t tell you what it is. You need to find out yourself. How do you do it?
Read my post here to get started. Then, ask yourself the following question:
- If you were to be successful in the business you plan to pursue, how proud would you feel?
Then, start some projects, run experiments. Keep going until you’re clear on what fulfills you. Focus on projects that give you meaning, growth and allow you to build a legacy.
You need to be passionate about what you’re doing. As Steve Jobs said when he criticized Microsoft’s Zune uninspired design and market weakness: “If you don’t love something, you’re not going to go the extra mile, work the extra weekend, challenge the status quo as much. “
I’ve got several topics I’m passionate about: technology, psychology, strategic thinking, video games, music and fantasy. Each one could be a path worth pursuing. But now, let’s get into the key item that determines if a path is viable as a business: value.
The key ingredient to profit is: massive value. You get paid proportionally to the value you give in return. It’s pretty simple.
If you follow your passion but don’t provide enough value to the world, you’re not going to build a highly profitable business.
So, how do you bring value to the world? You need to:
A. Master your craft
B. Position yourself
C. Know your market
When you get started on your journey, you take your skills and passion with you.
Along the way, though, you need to grow. You’ve got to master your skills and knowledge if you want to stay ahead and continue to give massive value. Also, you’ve got to keep cultivating your passion to rekindle the flame.
The majority of people don’t spend enough time developing themselves. They’re not focused on their own growth.
It’s crucial that you spend time on becoming better at your craft every day. Keep working towards mastery and keep looking at how you can develop to bring even more value to your market.
Since we’re not all that different, chances are a lot of people are passionate about the same things as you. That means you’ll face a lot of competition in your passion topics.
And when competition is high, standing out can be extremely tough. So, you need to look for the right opportunities that merge your passions, skills and value.
Find your sweet spots.
Then, list the different markets you could serve with your sweet spots.
Once you’re done, go out and research each market. Find out in which market you’ll have less competition.
For example, let’s say one of your sweet spots is fitness. There’s lots of possible markets you can address, so you’ll have to niche down.
After doing research, you decide to settle for 55-64 years old professional women as your target market. That target market is less crowded than other demographics.
Now, your next step is to find out whether people in that market really value what you offer, if they’re ready to spend money to get it.
How do you do it?
Go on Reddit, Quora and specialist forums. Are there people looking for a solution to their problems that you can uniquely offer? Directly ask people on Reddit what their pains are, then whether they would be ready to pay for a solution.
This process will already go a long way towards finding the right positioning for you.
Now, what’s the one thing that makes you completely unique?
The convergence of your skills and passion? It narrows down the number of people like you, but it won’t make you completely unique.
No, the only thing that is unique to you is: your story.
To stand out, you need to leverage it. Whatever your business is, use your story to build relationships. Bring emotion to your products and services.
Your story is your secret weapon for positioning. Abuse it.
Once you’ve identified the best market for your services and products and know how you can leverage your story to stand out, you’re not done. You’ve got to carry on digging.
C. Know Your Market
To turn your pursuit into a highly profitable business, you need to develop a deep understanding of your target market.
Let’s get back to our fitness example. Remember, our target market is 55-64 years old professional women.
What would be the most useful skills to master to bring value to your audience?
Understanding nutrition and body fitness for an aging body would be a good start. You’ll want to develop specific routines that keep you fit, while not completely exhausting or damaging your body.
They also need to be effective so they fit in a busy schedule. And flexible enough so they can be practiced while on business travel.
The more you understand your market, the more you fine tune your products and services, the more value you’ll bring. And the more profitable your business will become as you’ll have less competition and will be able to charge more (higher value = higher price).
So, dig out as much information as you can through research and discussions with your audience. Your ultimate goal is for you to know your audience better than they know themselves.
Bringing value is one thing. But who are you bringing value to, right now? Do you have access to a large group of people?
If not, you need to increase your reach and grow your Entourage.
One of the best ways to do that is to create raving fans, who will spread your word and recommend your work to their friends.
To picture what I mean, think about Apple. Apple have built a huge fan base by communicating their vision (fully integrated solutions for creatives), creating simple and beautiful products and through clever marketing. And these fans will then go out and spread the gospel. It’s like crowd-sourcing your marketing and sales, and it’s free…
Now, there’s a few key elements you need to create raving fans:
- An inspiring vision
What’s your vision for your business? What changes do you want to bring into the world?
People want to make a positive difference on this planet. So, if you have a clear high purpose that you’re working towards achieving, your audience will follow you. They will embrace your mission.
What values do you stand for? What are you fighting against? Consolidating your identity and integrating it into your community is crucial if you want to create raving fans.
What can you uniquely offer to the world? Remember, your story is what makes you truly unique. But you also need to refine your positioning to offer a unique formula in terms of skills. Being unique will require a good amount of brainstorming and experimenting. You’ll get to the right solution through trial and error.
Finally, we’re coming back to value. The more you can make a difference in people’s lives, the more value you bring them, the more they’ll like you and want to let their friends know.
Focus on creating raving fans and you’ll have a thriving business.
If you want to dig further into getting raving fans, I invite you to read Kevin Kelly’s article, One Thousand True Fans.
Now, here’s the thing. Reality can be brutal. That’s why you need to be prepared for when it hits you.
What does that mean? It means you’ve got to take massive action to compensate and get results!
Fortunately, there’s ways to take selective action that will bring you the biggest results.
To further increase your reach, you’ll need to:
- Connect with influential people
- Hustle effectively
Making an impact on your own is incredibly difficult. It used to be easier on the Internet a few years ago, when there were less people running an online business. But now, it has become crazy competitive.
The best way to reach out to a big audience is to connect with influential people and build a relationship. It takes time and effort, but if you do it right, you can benefit from their reach. Just imagine if you get promoted by someone who has a mailing list of 300’000 people… this is huge!
Building relationships with influencers is hard though. And I haven’t cracked the code yet myself.
One key, again, is to give value first, as much as you can. The more valuable you are, the more appreciated you’ll be. It will help you build relationships and grow your network.
And here’s the hard truth: when you’re starting, you’ve got to hustle a lot. And hustling is painful.
First, you’ll feel you’re pestering people so will resist the hustle. Then, you’ll get ignored and rejected a lot. You’ve got to toughen up and keep going.
To be effective, pick and choose your marketing strategies so you get results.
Read blogs from marketing experts. Try out their techniques and measure your results. Then focus on the techniques that have given you the most results.
Be agile and run rapid iterations so you can always adapt along the way and stay on the best track.
PaVE The Way
There isn’t a single magic bullet to business. You need to run rapid experiments to find out what’s right for you and what resonates with your audience. Keep feeding your motivation, measure your progress and get to know your audience really well.
With the right approach, you’ll bring together your passion and skills and turn them into a highly profitable business.
I’ve changed directions a few times. But my interests and passions haven’t. I’ve focused on my strengths, analyzed the market and competition and refined my mission over time.
I found out strategic thinking was a sweet spot for me and it has gathered a lot of my interest since then.
Wherever you are today, you too can build a highly profitable business doing what you want. Follow the right strategy and hone your skills and passion. Focus on bringing value to the world and the rest will follow.
So, what are you going to do? Have you found a sweet spot to pursue? Share your story below.