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5 Questions To Ask To See If You Are In The Wrong Business

By Dr. Mani
18 Comments

“I’m going to build a business!”

These words have a certain magical energy to them. They give every solopreneur, looking to hang out a shingle on the Internet, a sense of being on the same level as a Bill Gates, or a Donald Trump, or a Larry Ellison. The vision of a future business maven who creates an empire and makes a mark in the world.

What’s nice about this dream is that it has a fair chance of coming true… for anyone. Yes, even you and me!

That’s why many call the Internet a “great leveler” that flattens the playing field and gives you a fair shot at massive success.

Still, building a business can be hard workif you let it.

There’s a way you can take most of the pain and tears, frustration and anxiety, struggle and suffering out of it. And that’s by finding the work you love.

When you are engaged in doing what you like and enjoy, it no longer feels like work. It’s like having fun all day long. Most entrepreneurs who have made it big started out with such a fun idea they were wholeheartedly engaged in, they were able to sustain the enthusiasm and excitement for long enough to cash out – and touch the world.

Facebook started out as a playful coding effort in a college dorm room, seeking to build a network for students to interact online. Google was the brainchild of two nerdy engineers obsessed with refining and perfecting search algorithms, and bent on delivering a better search experience than what they could find already. Amazon.com started out as a creative geek’s concept of creating an inventory and catalog of books on a scale that was simply impossible in a physical offline store.

That these online giants have morphed into something far bigger than their origins might have suggested is in itself proof that the concepts on which they were built are valid and valuable. But more to the point, they are proof that the passions of their founders were deep-rooted and powerful enough to last through phases of extra-ordinary growth, strong enough to scale and adapt to the altered vision of their dreams, and continue to soar ever higher and reach new peaks.

That’s only possible when you love the work you do.

Another visionary founder who built a very successful business was Apple’s CEO Steve Jobs.

In his inspirational lecture to Stanford University students, he said:

You’ve got to find what you love… the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do.

So the question to ask yourself is this:

“Do I want to do great work?”

Because as you build your business, you will have opportunities, and choices to make about them. The choices you make will be guided by the vision you have for your work. If you want to do great work, you will have to make some hard choices. Unless you’re doing something you love, these hard choices will break you, frustrate you, wear you down until you’re no longer having fun.

How do you know if you’ll love what you’re planning to do?

Well, many times it’s a guess. When I entered medical school, I was 17 years old. I liked the thought of becoming a doctor, but had absolutely no idea what the training would be like, or what the reality of life as a medical professional might be – even though both of my parents were doctors!

Fortunately, I discovered that it was something I loved and enjoyed even from a very early stage of my training. This helped tide over some very stressful, uncomfortable and disturbing phases of medical education – things which might deter or even drive away a less committed student. The assaults on a medical student are physical, emotional and psychological – and they keep coming, harder and faster as you move up the ladder.

Just like they do when you build a business.

And that’s one of the best reasons to make sure you are in a line of work that you like, enjoy, and look forward to being in for a long time to come. Here are 5 ways to tell:

1. You Must Have Interest

Maybe it’s just me, but I can’t imagine making a voluntary decision to get involved over the long term in something I am not interested in. It’s such a waste of time and energy! Especially in today’s world, where opportunities abound and it’s possible to shine and succeed in a million different niches, choosing something you have a keen and fervent interest in makes a lot of sense when entering into a business venture.

Sometimes, you can’t tell for sure if you have a serious interest. That’s when it pays to test it out on a trial basis. Work as an intern. Volunteer to help out. Hang around and observe how things work. Try it out for a while. And then decide if you find it interesting enough to commit a sizable chunk of your future to.

2. You Must Have Skill

Interest is directly linked to skill. You often find yourself liking and enjoying things that you’re good at – and seldom otherwise. That’s a good thing. Because if you’re already skilled at something, and keep working at it, you’ll become good at it, and then great.

My friend and teacher Chet Holmes is fond of saying how it takes much more effort to go from ‘average to good’ than it does to go from ‘good to great’. There’s a lot to be said for being the best – and the marketplace rewards great performances disproportionately higher than merely good or average ones.

3. You Must Have Desire

It takes a smattering of natural skill or talent, plus a generous dose of hard work and intentional practice to achieve true, lasting greatness at anything. A key driver of this sustained effort to attain greatness is your desire for it.

Do you remember the story I told of the man who asked a wise sage about the ‘secret of success’? If you don’t, read it again here. It’s not so much a ‘secret’ as it is a ‘universal law’ of success – one that you’ll find every single person who has achieved celebrity and renown in their field has obeyed.

4. You Must Have Purpose

Sooner or later – and often many times in between – you will be hit by the compelling question:

Why am I doing this?

Every setback that pushes you down, every challenge that forces you to work harder, every obstacle that slows down your progress, every threat that endangers your business will force this question back to the top again.

And you’d better have a good answer – because otherwise, you’ll be tempted to throw up your hands and give up. That’s why having a powerful purpose guiding your business efforts can make such a big difference. It’s also one more reason to love what you’re doing.

5. You Must Have Passion

Passion is more intangible than the other things we talked about – yet is also easier to recognize, both in yourself and in others. Passion is also, indirectly, linked to all the 4 things above – interest, skill, desire and purpose. Indeed, passion is the torrential river that is fed by those smaller streams.

When you are lucky enough to have your passions align with your business, nothing can stop you. For me, writing is a passion. I would willingly do it for free. And getting paid to write is the best of both worlds! Tie in a passion to your business and you’ve got it made.

But what if you do not have any of these things? Can’t you build a business anyway?

Sure, you can, and you can even succeed financially at it. But it would make ‘work’ feel harder, lonelier and monotonous – a lot less fun. That’s why it’s nicer to find work that you love… even if it means looking a little longer.

What do you think?

Dr Mani

About Dr. Mani

Dr.Mani is actively engaged in spreading awareness about congenital heart disease (CHD) and fundraising to sponsor heart surgery for under-privileged children in India.

An ardent group of volunteers and donors have embraced this noble purpose that is bigger than any individual or group, and grown it into a global movement that has touched and saved the lives of 87 little children. You can help too. Learn how at http://www.DrMani.com

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18 Comments

  • Dr Mani, thank you for a concise and tightly written piece urging introspection. I loved all of it and while 1 through 4 I was nodding at agreement with it is number five that I shouted OH YEAH.

    I have been in the motion picture and television industry for over 30 years and have many awards to my name. I have always loved telling a story and hopefully captivating an audience.

    In 2000 we moved from Huntington Beach CA to a small mountain town at an elevation of almost 8,000 feet. After a while I looked around for an opportunity to serve the community and I became a member of a mountain search and rescue team. We mounted many missions at above 12k where we would spend several days looking for a lost or injured climber. Sometimes it sadly turned from a search and rescue to a search and recover mission.

    After a while I became an EMT and my passion hit me square in the face. If only I had discovered emergency medicine thirty years before. After responding to tones I would be in the ambulance barn and as the overheard door rolled up I would hit the lights and siren rocker switches and would actually feel electric. To me the lights and siren were lights and music…I loved it. I knew that in this small Colorado mountain town that I was on the way to help someone. I have dealt with multiple car roll overs, twice I responded to tractor roll overs with crush injuries, many cardiac, diabetic and respiratory issues. Even two cases of gun shot wounds.

    My first call was a 16 year old girl in cardiac arrest who, as investigation revealed, had thrown a PE. She died as I was doing chest compressions. Now that will be in my memory forever.

    So I think this comment is getting longer then your post but the passion issue is so important in looking at starting a business and I think it should be #1 on the list.

    I think that it is passion that is the torrential river that “feeds” the other elements not the other way around and it is passion that should be dealt with first.

    Thank you.

  • thank You Dr. Mani- really agree with all these elements & especially the ‘universal law’ of success, which is exactly like breathing, essential and constant to your Life force…the reason for your Being Alive.

  • Dr. Mani, nice reading. I guess this rule applies to general life, as if you do not love something why do it, find something that you love, enjoy. As life’s short and rather than complaining, get up and do something about it. The difficult part is actually having the courage to make that change, as sometimes I see many are not happy in what they do, they know that they need to change, but just want do that change.

  • Raj

    You must also have patience! And a lots of it! :)

  • Hi Dr. Mani,
    great one there! I personally believe that at the root of most frustrations and agonies in the business world is the issue of people operating in environments they’re not “wired up” for.Locating your passion and walking in the same is the greatest secret of success. Your passion empowers you to work hard while at the same time having fun.With your passion, you’re able to hang on till success shows up.

  • This is so true! Thank you Dr. Mani for this nice post. I totally agree that one of the ingredients in business success is the business owner’s love for his or her specific niche or field of business. If you run a business that you don’t care much about or if you actually have no interest in the niche you are focusing on, more often than not, you’ll find yourself failing.

  • They are definitly the good questions. But sometimes we can’t answer any of them. Sometimes we just keep a positive mind and hope that our way will show up. I guess we only need to find the right method and everything’s going to be OK.
    Great article!

  • It’s a good article, point being, do what you love and go full force! I’m trying my hand in the microstock world. Tough to compete, but I love it!

  • Mani, Your Steve Jobs quote spoke to me, ” ‘You’ve got to find what you love…the only way to do great work is to love what you do.’ ” Mix that passion, that love, with ability; and one can become an unstoppable force.

  • I never wanted to be a teacher. There was something so mundane, so common about it. My earliest dream was to be a writer like George Plimpton; if I was a writer, then I could do everything! Now, working for myself, I get almost more joy out of making a sale than I do once I start the project. I have discovered that I love to help people learn about marketing, blogging, business and design. After reading your post, it hit me: it turns out I have become a teacher! I’m enjoying all your posts, their clarity, their stories and their impact. Thank you, Dr. Mani.

  • Some important points, We often start business by seeing that our relative or any friend is getting so much success with this business so we can also get the same result. That’s a wrong approach, always think about your limitation before trying any business. I’m not negative but yes I want you to be careful while indulging in any venture.

  • All five points are valid. I also think that one should always choose his profession based on his interest. But unfortunately, many people choose their fields based on the potential income they can earn.

    • Hi Faizan, it is a common problem. In Asian culture, we tend to have a herd mentality and follow whatever is vogue.

  • hi, Dr.Mani, cool stuff, no doubt it takes lot of time and effort choosing your niche. and for a blogger it is even difficult, there is lot of competition. I really liked your suggestions..

  • Nice post. This info is good but online entrepreneurs must have sound business models in place meshed with a very defined niche – if they want to earn a good income from it. Make sure you are able to drive a lot of traffic to your site and make sure a good percentage of your visitors will pay you for your products or sign up through your affiliate endorsements. So passion joined to a good business model and a starving crowd is necessary for success as an online business.

  • Desire is the most important thing which can make learning and striving easy. If a person has a desire to progress he will ultimately develop interest, skill and will become passionate about it.

  • Currently a student studying new media and aspiring to become one of the top designers / web designers in my country. I know I’ll get their because I have a little of each of the 5 points!

  • I have been struggling with this very question lately…”Do I have what it takes?” and many of the foundation points that you have made will stick with me. I have been writing in my blog about my passion…travel. I desire to share the many experiences that I have had with others and keep the wonderful memories fresh in my mind as well. I often have worried that maybe I just don’t have the skills that I need in order to succeed in my ventures. I believe that I have them, but they need refinement. I also know that the passion is definitely there.

    I love that you followed your dreams, and worked hard to succeed at something that you knew you wanted. I can’t even imagine the stress and pressures you must endure as a doctor. I don’t envy your position, but it does inspire me when people have the strength to handle such a difficult occupation.

    I have the 5 points you have listed above, but I still worry that I won’t know how to take my dreams forward. There is nothing scarier than the thought of failure. I will keep pressing forward, and continue to write, because I love it, and hope that success finds me along the way.

    Thank you so much for taking the time to write this for us.

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