Should you follow your passion or find a niche? This is a question hotly debated by marketers and it’s something every new business owner must ask themselves.
Get it wrong and you could waste a lot of time and money.
My advice to you today would be to follow your passion, even though I didn’t start that way.
How I Learned To Find My Niche
When I stumbled into internet marketing, I was advised to pursue one of three profitable niches – dating & relationships, weight loss or make money online.
I didn’t know much about any of them but since I was most interested in learning how to make money online, I figured that that was the best one to pursue.
I was wrong!
I set up a website and started to blog to build an audience. I set up various social media profiles to spread the word and built up an email subscriber list that I communicated with every week.
Fast forward one year and I had less than 200 people on my list who never opened my emails and I was making very little money. Plus, I was working harder than ever trying to master everything that came with building an online business – social media, blogging, SEO, list-building and traffic generation.
There were so many tedious and routine tasks to do each day that it was difficult to muster any enthusiasm.
Even though I made the occasional sale, I had zero passion for my work.
It’s no surprise that I was miserable and exhausted.
Then one day it dawned on me.
Even though I was running an online business I had effectively got myself another job. I was working hard at something because I had to – not because I wanted to.
The difference was that I didn’t have a boss breathing down my neck.
Despite over 10 years of business and professional experience, I realized I wasn’t using any of my innate skills, talents or passion. I didn’t know WHY I was doing what I was doing, WHAT I could offer people and WHO I could help.
Let’s take a look at the first of these 3 Ws – your WHY. It will help you understand why passion should be a critical part of your business strategy.
Why You Need to Start With Why
Throughout history there have always been people and businesses that are different, special or stand out in some way.
According to Simon Sinek, the reason they succeed is because these people or companies are all motivated by a strong WHY that helps them achieve things that seem impossible or others fail at.
I highly recommend you read his enlightening book “Start With Why”, but you can get the short version here in Sinek’s Ted Talk.
The basic message is that people don’t buy WHAT you do, they buy WHY you do it.
Sinek gives us a great model in the Golden Circle to understand this better.
When you move from the outside in, you are simply following everyone else.
But when you move from the inside out, you are tapping into what’s remarkable about you. This also attracts other people to you.
Everyone has the potential to be remarkable but very few people ever take the time to figure out what drives them in life or what they’re passionate about.
How To Find Your Why
Instead of getting caught up in the details of finding a profitable niche, I believe it’s essential you start by asking yourself WHY and then looking at what you’re passionate about.
Any business takes time and effort to build so you might as well work on something that is aligned with your deepest values.
The problem is that many people have a hard time figuring out their WHY. We just aren’t brought up that way.
We are taught to go to school, get an education, find a job and then work for 40 years before we can look forward to retirement. If we’re lucky, it’s only then that we get to experience all the fun things we dreamed about as children.
Sadly, too many of us risk becoming an unhappy 70-year old man or woman who looks back at their life with regret because they never took a risk to do something they loved.
I would hate for this to happen to you.
Money Follows Passion
Trust me, you can’t learn to love something you dislike.
So if you are struggling to define your WHY then it might be helpful to focus on your passions.
A lot of personal development books and programs tell you to “follow your bliss”, or “find your passion”.
But before you dismiss this and tell me you know it already. I want to ask you a question. If you know this, then why aren’t you doing what you love? Why aren’t you successful already?
Life is too short to be miserable every day doing something you dislike or even hate. Too many people are stuck in this place.
You only have one life. You owe it to yourself to start creating a life that is worthy of you.
A Simple Exercise To Find Your Passion
When I worked in recruitment and career development, many of my clients were long-term welfare recipients.
For various reasons, most of them had not worked for years, in some cases such as women who had married young and stayed at home to raise their families, they’d never had a job.
So when the law changed, many welfare claimants found themselves sitting opposite coaches like me trying to figure out what skills, talents and experience they had to offer the world.
The list below is typical of the questions I asked them. It’s a thought-provoking exercise so worth doing for yourself, regardless your circumstances.
Think about your strengths, talents, hobbies, personality and work experience. Grab a notepad and answer the following questions as completely and as honestly as possible:
#1. What did you love to do as a child?
#2. What were your favorite subjects at school?
#3. What do you excel at that others find hard?
#4. What can you spend hours doing?
#5. What would you do even if you didn’t get paid for it?
#6. What do people often ask you for advice about?
Treat it like a brainstorm. Don’t censor your answers because you might discover some gems about yourself.
When you’re done, place a star next to the things that stand out. You are going to be using these ideas to choose the right niche, one where people actually spend money.
But I’ll leave that for another post.
You have to love what you do. This is why passion is so important as a starting point when it comes to finding a niche. Couple this with a broader understanding of your WHY and you have a formula for success.
When I look back at my life, I realize there has been a recurring theme. Whether in my personal or professional life – I was always the girl who inspired others to do better, think bigger, believe more, and reach higher.
Inspiring others and making a difference to the world is my WHY. It’s what kept me going through the hard times and continues to do so.
Business can be hard, so you need to have a reason why you will put in the extra hours, the sweat equity, to get things done.
You will need to hustle to keep your dream moving, including doing many mundane and unglamorous tasks often way beyond the 9-5 (until you are able to outsource them).
Being passionate about your business will fire you up to do whatever it takes to be successful and stick with it long enough until you break through.
What About You?
Do you believe passion is important in business? Do you know your WHY? Please share your thoughts below. I’d love to hear from you.