“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 work – if 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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?