From Present to Passion
So you’re ready. You’re looking for advice about how to start a passion based business.
Me too. At least, I was, several years ago.
It sounds so easy, doesn’t it? Find your passion. Write about it. Watch the money come rolling in.
That’s not quite how it works, though. From my position of experience, I’m here to tell you – without the right tools it’s not that simple, and it’s certainly not that quick.
But it is, totally, doable. And easy – when you know how.
Let me explain. And in explaining, let me offer you the steps to help you get there.
From present to passion, in four easy steps.
So there I was, on the edge of wanting to know how to start my own business, with no idea how to go about it.
They all say it. All the people you might turn to when you’re thinking of starting any kind of business. “Gurus,” if you like. People who make a lot of money suggesting vague yet oh-so-alluring ways to make millions.
“Make it passion-based.”
Great! That’s all I need to do, then – choose a passion and write about it. I’ll have this finished by the end of the day…
How to know what my passion is? What does “passion” mean, anyway? The more I thought, the less clear I was.
Step 1: What Does Passion Mean, Anyway?
So I did what I do. I did some research.
First, I turned to dictionaries for a definition. They told me passion is…
- a strong and barely controllable emotion
- a strong amorous feeling or desire
- a devotion to some activity…
My heart began to sink. Barely controllable? Amorous? Devotion? Seriously?
I had total devotion to maybe two things: Prosecco, and sleep. I didn’t think either of them was enough to start a business.
And then, in the middle of the night, I had a miraculous revelation.
I’d seen her on some morning TV program. As a Brit, I thought she was a bit “out there.” I mean – sorting clothes by asking “does it float?” Hmmm…
Then I realized why I’d thought of her. Because one of her big messages is…
“Choose what sparks joy.”
And that’s how, at 3 am, I came to understand what “turn your passion into a business” means in reality.
It means find something that gives you joy – and will keep on giving you joy for some time to come. Because that’s how long you want your business to last.
Forget the word “passion” for a moment. It can be seriously disheartening. Instead, which of these phrases really resonates with you? How do you want your business to make you feel?
Finish this sentence: I’d like to be able to write about something that…
- interests me
- sparks joy (thank you, Marie!)
- gives me warm, fuzzy feelings
- makes me smile
- all of the above.
If you’ve answered “all of the above,” try to narrow it down to one. Feeling that one thing is the best way you’ll be able to measure how successful you are.
Because chances of building a successful business are multiplied immeasurably if you get pleasure from sharing your “passion” with others.
I chose the phrase “makes me smile.” Because, in building a business, I wanted to find something that would make me smile, every day.
I hadn’t done that for a long time – it took a man with a machete to make me realize that’s what I wanted out of life (a looong story, for another time).
How to work out the “something,” though?
Step 2: Finding Your Passion
We all want to wake up every morning and smile when we remember we have to go to work. But how do we know if that smile is going to become permanent, and whether it may start to fade after just a few months?
Because like Rome, a business – even a passion-based business – is not built in a day.
Despite what some may tell you, it takes time, and commitment, and the ability to keep smiling, even when life and your growing business seem to throw mud your way.
You’ve heard the phrase: “Mud sticks.” As full-time, passion-based business owners, we need to know how to wash away those muddy times.
So we need to choose a topic – what you might have heard described as a “niche” – carefully. We need to be sure our love for it is going to stick.
Mine ended up being about… chickens.
Really? An inner-city, Prosecco-loving, mud- and muck-hating woman chose chickens as a topic that would make her smile forever?
Simple. I went back to my childhood.
Why childhood? Because that’s generally a time when we feel most free. When we take risks. Before we learn to question everything. Before we become impaired by age and experience.
I could have stuck with niches I knew a lot about through my adult professional life. But when I thought about those topics, they did not make me smile.
In fact, they made my heart feel heavy. In Marie’s terms, they didn’t “spark joy.” They didn’t even “float.”
They sank. So I stuck with my “this needs to make me smile” theme, and remembered things I’d loved as a child. Things I remembered with joy.
No, not roller blades. Tin skates, like these (yes, I’m that old)…
It wasn’t so much the skates as the freedom they gave me. But as an adult I’d completely lost that ability to balance. The thought of trying to learn again filled me with anxiety rather than a smile.
So a niche about roller skating, or any other type of skating, was out.
I like to cycle. When the weather is good and the hills aren’t steep and I’m surrounded by the sunflower fields of Italy…
But could I write about it consistently and with a smile?
I didn’t rule it out.
I’d always loved animals. As soon as I had my own home, I had dogs. And my dogs definitely do give me joy. I mean, who could look at these faces and not smile?
My childhood dream was always to be a vet. Sadly, my total inadequacy in science-based subjects (and possibly squeamishness at the thought of pulling cows’ teeth – another long story) had made it impossible.
But writing about animals – now that did make me smile. Suddenly, cycling was not the right option. It would stay where it was – a hobby, not a business.
You may instinctively know what your passion is – the topic that would make you smile when you imagine writing about it, every day. You may even already have it as a hobby.
If so – brill. Let it sit with you for a few days. Does it still make you smile? If so, it’s time for the next steps! But don’t rush. Let your mind consider other options too.
If you don’t know yet, or if what you thought made you smile doesn’t, try this simple exercise.
(And if the exercise doesn’t work the first time, let it go for a couple of days and try again. Your subconscious mind will work on it for you in the meantime.)
- Close down your computer. Turn off your phone. Find a quiet space.
- Relax. Play some music, or listen to a relaxation meditation, if it helps.
- Let your mind drift to a time when you were really, truly happy. When you smiled all the time. It may be childhood, or something closer in time.
- What were you doing? Is it something you still do? Or something you could re-learn, or develop?
- Most importantly, does it make you smile?
If it does, then you’re there. You have the solid start of a passion-based business.
Step 3: Finding a Micro Niche for Your Passion Based Business
We’re not done yet, though. Finding and pursuing your “passion” is only the start. Why?
Because “animals,” for example, is just too big a niche. Think of all the animals in the world. Think of all the businesses, on and offline, dealing with “animals” – they’d become your competition. Think of everything you’d need to cover.
If that doesn’t make your head want to blow up, it should. It did mine.
So how did I get from “animals” to “oh I know, I’ll write about chickens?” Good question!
- I’ve had rescue dogs all my adult life, so I knew that could be a topic. But when I thought about it, it overwhelmed me. A colleague had a successful business based on her love of a particular breed – but mine were all who-knows-what breed. Where to start? What to cover?
- I’d always wanted goats. I was quite attracted to goats as a topic. But we had nowhere to keep them. And writing about a topic I knew nothing of and had no scope to learn was going to be, at least, difficult. Reluctantly, I ruled goats out.
- I’d moved to live in Italy. Everyone keeps chickens in our area. I’d never had chickens, but we had enough land to keep a few. They didn’t seem too complicated to learn about, and what I didn’t know I could ask about locally, or read up on, or try out on a few hens (oh that poor first little flock of chickens who tested out all my theories…).
- The possible chicken theme stuck with me even when I tried to forget it. It just kept coming back. Those pesky chickens…
- So I did some research, which sounds grand, but simply means I tested the waters by taking a look round the internet. I saw there weren’t many other blogs about chickens, and none (at that time) based in either Italy or the UK. Which means my website would be a bit different. And there were a lot of chicken-themed products I could maybe sell.
This one’s simple.
Think about your “big” topic, and narrow it down. It may be something you already have experience in – that hobby you’ve been enjoying for years. Or it may be a topic that really makes you smile but you don’t know much (or in my case, anything!) about.
Knowledge can be gained. Passion, not so much. So start with that big smiley niche you identified, and narrow it down.
- Love cooking? Thinking about a recipe site? How about recipes for people new to vegan cookery?
- Is travel your passion? Think about the area where you live. Is it a region people like to visit? Do you have “secret” knowledge that tourists would love to know but can’t find on traditional vacation sites?
- Or maybe you’ve found a different way of traveling. Some friends of mine even turned passion for their motorhome into a business!
- Suppose you love gardening but you’re not sure where you’d start. Do you enjoy a particular type of gardening? Organic, perhaps. Or does growing something in particular make you smile? Veggies, maybe. Or narrow it down even more. Helping others grow the ideal tomato may give you that important warm and fuzzy feeling.
- If you love decorating your home, consider narrowing it to one part of a house. For example, a colleague has a very successful business based on her passion for porches.
Got it? Brill! Time to move onto next steps.
Step 4: Starting Your Passion Based Business
Now, turn your passion into a financially viable, passion-based business. Here’s where it gets a bit trickier.
Sounds easy, doesn’t it? After all, anyone can build a website, as all those ads will tell you. And I did, once. Before chickens.
Did it work? Nope. It sat there looking pretty. But I had no idea about how to turn what had started as a kind of hobby site into a business that people not only saw, but trusted enough to want to learn more from.
I knew nothing about keywords, or identifying my ideal customer, or how to find out whether the business would make any money or not – let alone how to put it all together in a website that was different to anyone else’s.
Without that knowledge, your “passion” is likely to remain a hobby business. It may not even become a business, if you have no idea how to make sure people find it.
And that’s fine, if you’re happy with writing for the love of it.
But let’s be honest. If I’m spending time and sharing my knowledge and experience with others to help them in whatever they need help with, it’s only right that I should have some financial return.
It’s time to turn down the passion and turn up the hard data.
- Take your narrow topic and check whether enough people are searching for it.
- Next, check the competition: How much is there, and how likely are you to be able to beat it?
- Build a picture of your ideal customer. Who is she? What are her problems? Why is she looking for the information she finds on your website?
- How will your information differ from everyone else’s? What “spin” can you put on it?
- You’ve found your passion. How can you make your readers like and trust you enough to feel that passion, and want to buy from you?
Eeek! So much to learn! So many new ideas! And all of them beyond the scope of this article.
You’ve identified your passion. That’s a great start, and further than a lot of others get. But is it even possible to move from passion minus knowledge to passion plus enough knowledge to make a viable business?
It is, if you know where to look.
I was fortunate to find that place, purely by accident. It’s called Solo Build It! (SBI!).
It guided me from knowing nothing – genuinely, nothing! – about how to set up and develop an online business, to having a profitable business that makes me smile, widely, every single day. And keeps me and my chickens in treats. My husband would say, very expensive treats.
An online business that people not only find, but love. And trust me enough to buy from.
Can you do the same? Absolutely!
I’m not special. I’m not ultra-talented. I just found my passion, and I found SBI!. The two together are a force to be reckoned with.
My life now is working on my online business, and smiling. I spend the rest of the time with my family, my dogs, my chickens and the occasional glass of Prosecco. In other words, doing what I want to do.
Don’t believe it can be done? I didn’t, either. And to be honest, turning a passion into a business is very unlikely, without guidance and the right tools.
But with those at your fingertips, with all the support SBI! provides, and with your own determination, you absolutely can do it.
Ready to begin your own journey to online success with a passion based business?