Starting a new business is no easy task, but if you are passionate about what you do, that’s half the battle. The other half is learning how to profit from your passion, surrounding yourself with the right people, staying focused, preparing properly and measuring goals.
As your passion evolves into a business, beware of distractions that steer you away from your purpose. Whether a brick and mortar shop, a service provider or an online business, day-to-day operations can deter you from your original course due to the pressure to meet the demands of “bigger and better.” Don’t allow the flashing “Bigger and Better” signs surrounding you to deter you from your original course.
You must clearly define your purpose and draw your line in the sand early in your entrepreneurial quest. It may sound counterintuitive and possibly a little cheesy but my overarching goal is not to drive up profits. My purpose is to provide wholesome resources to children.
Without a doubt, profits play a vital role in the success of any business or entrepreneurial endeavor. However, profit margins alone won’t provide the drive you need to brave harsh entrepreneurial terrain. From a hobby turned profession to a desire to change the world, you must stay connected to why you chose to pursue your dream.
Choose your fellow villagers wisely
I’m a firm believer in the adage, “It takes a village to raise a child.” Your vision— this dream that you have is like a child. It is important that the members of your village share your passion and eagerness to help nurture the vision from infancy to maturity.
I am very selective when bringing on new partners or collaborators. The first litmus test is always to assess their level of excitement and passion about the work at hand. Do they light up when we discuss potential projects? If this vision doesn’t excite you, you probably should keep searching for something that does.
Working in areas that we are passionate about often begin with isolated “labors of love.” As our business grows, it’s important that we recognize when we need to ask for help and expand our village. We must keep an eye on the trajectory of the business, resist emotional ties to doing the work may hinder our ability to let go, and delegate when needed—especially when it is our life’s passion.
Carefully selecting the right people, for the right job, at the right time will help ensure sustainability as your passion evolves into a profitable business.
Create a business model that fits your niche
Notice I didn’t say find a business model that fits your niche. The reality is that there may not be a model out there that directly aligns with what you want to do or more importantly—how you want to do it. No worries, you can tap into your creative genius and create it!
My desired business model did not exist when I began pursuing my passion for writing and advocacy. After an exhausting few months of research, consulting and mentoring, I decided to build my own model for sustainability. The result consists of a hybrid mix of for-profit book series and direct sales that fund my passion for missions and philanthropy. That’s right, my business model helps me make money—to give it away.
I made a conscious decision to live my life as a distribution center versus a storage facility. This may sound counterintuitive to some, but the more ways I find to give money away, the more money I make. My life’s work is not about being bigger and better—it’s about having a positive impact.
I developed a business model that is congruent with my core values and aspirations. Profits generated from my books will be used in 3 ways:
- Stroke Prevention and Awareness in honor of my daughter who suffered a stroke at 17
- Diabetes Education in honor of my grandmother, a Type 2 diabetic
- Missions and World Literacy
Determine how you will measure success
According to a survey conducted during the Strayer University Success Project, 90% of Americans believe that success if defined by happiness— more so than money, power or fame.
I hired a literary agent and was offered a publishing deal with a small imprint for my first “America by Train” book. The brass ring was well within reach and all I had to do was sign on the dotted line. Poof! All of my literary dreams were about to come true, right? I could live out my passion as a published author. Well, not exactly.
As my eyes moved from left to right down the page, I saw my creative autonomy slipping away with each passing line. I called my literary agent to decline the publishing contract and pursue a self-publishing route. He painted a glamorous picture of success for the traditional publishing route laden with high volume sales, mainstream acceptance and increased exposure.
It was at that moment that I was reminded of my measure of success. There are a few key statements that I drew strength from to keep me grounded in how I chose to measure my success.
- I am in pursuit of significance not success.
- My ultimate goal is to help others and profits will be reinvested in the business.
- It’s my vision but it’s not about me—it’s about something much bigger.
Find your tribe
Face it, now matter how noble your cause or how good of a person you are, not everyone will be a member of your tribe—and that’s OK. The key is to clearly identify the people that share a genuine connectedness to your passion. By doing so, your kinship will be rooted in deeply held values.
You’ve appropriately identified your tribe and they have to aligned with your vision—now what? It’s time to build the tribe’s brand, establish a rally cry and get them invested for the long haul:
Build your tribe’s brand
Work with the members of your tribe to build your identity. What unites you? What do you do? Why? Defining your brand will help amplify the sense of community and establish a camaraderie.
Establish a rally cry
Which words most align to your purpose? How would you describe your community to prospective members? Answering these questions will help you shape your rally cry. This can be anything from one word to a few short sentences?
Your rally cry should be used as a quick reminder of your purpose as well as an energizer for the work that lies ahead. Creating and adopting a common language gives expression to your collective voice. This will not only strengthen your tribe, but will also serve as a beacon to attract others.
Get them invested for the long haul
There are a myriad of options available to engage your followers. Social platforms, contest, co-creation opportunities, member spotlights, mentoring and peer learning are just a few. One of my favorites is to share a member’s story or feedback on my social networks. It is an immediate recognition of their engagement as well as a way for them to feel more connected to the community. Make it a common practice to recognize and reward your members often and publicly.
Your efforts to fully engage your tribe will pay off exponentially. Their energy will keep you going when things get tough—and things will get tough. You will also establish the next generation of leaders who will keep your tribe alive. Most importantly, you will get to know and share your best self as you lead by example.
How do you profit from your passion? Let us know in the comments.