I’m not here to sell you the “magic” formula, or to convert you into a salesperson for my idea. Nope. I want you to think about what you could be doing to have your own business.
Are you a stay-at-home parent? Or do you work part-time hours out of the home, supplementing your partner’s full-time income? Do you wish or want to bring in some money, but you’re not ready or willing to go work for someone else? Do you want to be able to set your own hours, according to your terms and your family’s needs? I’ve been in your shoes! I get it, completely. I’ve had jobs I loved and ones that were just ok, but the very best ones were the ones I created for myself. There is nothing quite like the feeling of being your own boss.
On the flip side, you could be a full-time employee in someone else’s business and you chafe at how it’s being run. You’d love the chance to show how you would do it, but aren’t being given the opportunity. I’ve been there too. You’re feeling like you could do so much more or do it BETTER, if only…
Turn your passion into a business
Do you have a hobby, make something that people compliment you on? Perhaps you are a jam expert or a seamstress extraordinaire. Do you love to drive and have a car? You could run errands for people! Are you an expert in some area that you could become a consultant in? For example, can you draw or keep the books or be an HR consultant?
You might be anywhere between “I shouldn’t even be thinking someone would want to buy this” and “people keep asking me if I can make them one or show them how it’s done”.
Are you a big fan of something and are convinced everyone else would love it too?
Did you have a hard time finding something and want to make it easier for others?
This last one is how I started my previous business. Sixteen years ago, good cloth diapers were hard to find in Canada. I wanted to buy some for my daughter and jumped through all kinds of hoops to get some from the States. I was sure I couldn’t be the only parent in Canada looking for a quality product. Boy, was I right! When my sales volume got too big to handle by myself I sold my business, inventory and all.
Do you have a passion for something? Do you have tons of experience and you want to help others?
The most important step is STARTING!
There’s a process to follow, no matter how much money you hope to bring in and no matter what you want to sell, be it a product or a service. Many people think it’s a long and complicated process, but it really doesn’t have to be.
How to figure out what your profitable passion could be
First, make a list of everything you love to spend time doing. Go on, I’ll wait. Include everything you love to do, from spending time with your kids, to writing, to knitting, all the way to looking into spare parts for really old lawn mowers.
How long is the list? 3 things? 5? 20? The sky’s the limit, don’t keep count. Write down as many things as you like, whatever floats your boat.
Don’t worry if you only have a couple of things on your list! Not everyone is multi-passionate. After all, the world would be a boring place if we are all the same!
Narrow it down
Compare A to B until you have 5 final things or less.
How? Well, say you have the following list:
- Baking muffins
- Spending time with my kids
- Managing my family’s budget
- Sorting through old books anywhere I can find them
Start by being a bit more specific. We all love spending time with our kids but nobody’s going to pay us to do it, so think. What is it you love the most that you do with your kids? Read, bake, play…? Could you do it with other people’s kids?
Also, check your list to see if you can combine two items. Looking at my list above, I could combine Hiking with Dogs and perhaps be a dog-walker.
Now our example list looks something like:
- Read to kids
- Manage a budget
- Walk dogs
Determine your strengths
What do you get complimented on? Get a friend’s brutally honest opinion if you find this step hard to do by yourself. You may be uber-patient with technology (but not at all with people)? Maybe you are very creative. Whatever your strengths are, write them down.
Here’s an example:
- A very good listener
- Super creative
Combine your passion with your strengths (set a goal)
At this point, you should have two lists: one of your top passions and one of your top strengths. Combine the two, in any way you can, to come up with some goals.
Using our examples:
- My after-school program will provide dress-up story-time to kids 5-8.
- I will use my listening skills to provide top-notch budgeting advice to families
Think about what motivates you
The time has come to make a third list! Think about what motivates you. The top 5 motivators are:
- Connection: you crave by social interaction.
- Security: you like financial rewards. You like structure and prefer to avoid risk.
- Influence: you are a take-charge type of person. You like being the leader and setting group goals.
- Accomplishment: you are super-competitive and love being the best.
- Enlightenment: you like your goals to have meaning and prefer to have the freedom of choice.
Think about what give you an extra boost, above all else. Imagine your ideal day, and what would happen to make it so great. Is it a feeling you get, something somebody says, or something else?
Re-work your goal to reflect what motivates you
Read your goal over, the one you came up with when you combined your passion with your strength. Is your goal realistic, given what motivates you?
As a person motivated by accomplishment, can you really be happy running a dress-up story-time for kids? It is possible, if you turn it into a game of sorts, having a pretend competition with the library’s program. But it may get old fast for you if you don’t get that occasional “winner” feeling.
State your goal in such a way as to increase the reward that motivates you or to decrease the rewards that don’t.
Now that you’ve got your goal, you have some work to do in order to determine if it is a viable business idea. Don’t worry if it’s not, as you have other passions and strengths. Keep tweaking the plan until you hit on the winning concept.
You need to be motivated if you want to be a solopreneur!
Do your research
Imagine doing the thing
Sure, you love to walk dogs. Can you see yourself doing it full-time? Decide how you feel about doing it no matter the weather. Picture how your body would feel, walking that much. In other words, something you love to do once in a while might be a complete drag to do for a living!
Determine the demand
Look at each item on your short list and determine whether there is a demand for this particular good or service.
For example, if there is a wonderful community library program that offers free story-time to local families every evening, then earning a living reading to kids may be difficult. You may want to look into getting a job at the library!
If you live in a dog-friendly area chock-full of two-income families, your dog-walking business may take off.
Can you do it enough to meet your financial needs?
Will it be possible for you to get enough clients to earn what you need to earn? Can you sell enough product? Have an honest look at what is realistically possible.
In my next article, I’ll show you how I come up with a plan for a new business. I feel very strongly that you only need a formal business plan if you’re going to the bank for a loan.