Following your heart and doing what you love is the advice that’s been given to hopeful entrepreneurs for years.
We all want to do work that we love – especially when starting a business. But what does that really mean?
Does it mean you turn your hobby into a business? Does it mean your work has to be fun? Or – as some people suggest – that you love what you do so much you should be willing to do it for free?
In this article we’ll explore the answers to those questions, and what following your heart really means when you start an online business.
What Does It Take To Succeed In Business?
When you own a business you need to make money. A lot of money. After all, starting a business is a lot of work. Why do it if you can make the same amount of money working a job?
And let’s face it. The bills need to be paid and you’ve got to eat. So your business needs to support you.
But following your heart isn’t about making money. In fact, it’s not even about you or that thing you do so well.
Following your heart is really about others and how you can help them. It’s about the impact you can make in your little corner of the world.
If you only focus on the money there’s no meaning behind what you do – no matter what industry you’re in. One day you’ll wake up and wonder why you even bother getting out of bed in the morning. It will all seem so pointless.
And if you only focus on what you love to do, your business won’t be successful. You’ll be too internally focused when you should be externally focused.
But, when you’re helping others you’ve got a reason to get up and get going. People are counting on you, and you don’t want to let them down.
So you need to ask yourself what you would like to focus on. Do you want to help others, or are you more focused on doing what you do well, and earning money with it?
If deep down in your heart you desire to help others, and you make that the core of everything you do in your business, you’ll be successful.
If you’d rather focus on your talent or expertise, you need to get a job.
…But My Passion Is Painting. That Doesn’t Help Anyone.
Actually, painting does help people. When people look at a painting it helps them relax. It takes their mind off their stressful day and their problems.
And, when people buy a painting and hang it on a wall, it enhances that space. It gives it beauty and helps to create a mood. It can also become the subject of conversations, creating a connection between people.
Teaching people to paint is another way a painter can help people. It helps them express themselves and be creative.
It can also help people get over sadness, relieve stress and anxiety, and boost brain power.
When plans for my daughter’s 16th birthday fell through, I took her to a pottery studio to do a little painting. It was a new experience for both of us.
We each chose a ceramic to paint. I chose a bud vase, and she chose a little basket.
After choosing our colors, we spent the next two hours painting. It was incredibly calming, and once we started we forgot all about our former plans for the day.
Painting took our focus off of any cares we had, and tapped into our creative side.
When we were done I marveled at how our personalities were reflected in our art. My daughter had painted her basket in pastel colors, reflecting her easy going and happy nature.
My bud vase was a bright orange with bright red and blue accents, which reflected the boldness and daring of my personality.
The pottery studio helped us to create a wonderful memory of my daughter’s birthday.
So if you think your talent or passion won’t help anyone, take a closer look!
…But I Don’t Have A Passion. I Don’t Know What I Want To Do.
Having a passion isn’t a requirement for starting an online business. Helping people is.
We all have skills and talents – things we’re good at. You need to take an assessment of your skills and talents and ask yourself which one you would like to do. You don’t have to feel passionate about doing it. But, you should at least like doing it.
When you like what you do, doing it is much more pleasant. And being able to help people while doing something you like, is like the cherry on top. It gives you a purpose with meaning.
Maybe you’re a good cook, and you like trying and creating new recipes. How could you spin this into an online business?
First, you need to decide who you want to help. This is the market you will serve. Maybe you’re great at cooking on a budget, so you decide to help families create nutritious meals that are budget friendly.
You create a video blog (a vlog) to kick things off, and a short time later you create a monthly membership.
And then it happens. You begin to get comments on your vlog.
People are telling you how wonderful it is to be able to feed their families for less, and still know they’re getting the nutrition they need. They’re telling you that because of you, they were able to start a savings account, or save up for a vacation or a new family car.
And it’s all because you took a skill you had – cooking – and decided to use it to help others.
It wasn’t your passion, although you liked doing it. But now, you REALLY like doing. Now it IS your passion because of the good you are doing.
Following Your Heart Takes Courage
It takes courage and “true grit” to take a skill you have – whether you’re passionate about it or it’s just something you like to do – and turn it into an online business.
Most people don’t even try. They’ll wish they could, but they’ll never do it. They don’t know where to start, and it’s just too much trouble to find out.
Starting an online business isn’t for sissies. It requires a lot of work – contrary to what many so called “gurus” would have you believe.
But, if following your heart means your end goal is to help people, and if helping people becomes your passion, then you’ve got the drive and ambition to do it.
When you start an online business there will be tough days.
There will be days when you’d rather be outside in the sun instead of sitting at your computer. There will be days where you’re not sure what your next move is. And there will be days of disappointment – like when you work hard on a sales campaign and it doesn’t work as well as you’d hoped.
But there will also be great days. Days where you feel like you’ve reached the top of the mountain (or at least a hilltop!). And days when you see comments on a blog post you finished at 3am when you were barely awake and can’t even remember what you wrote – and the comments are actually good! And there will be days when the sales that come in are far more than you ever expected.
Being in business is like being on a battle field. There are losses, but there are also wins. It takes courage to get out on that battle field and fight your way to victory.
Help Others And You Help Yourself
Every business that exists today exists for one reason only – either to help consumers or to help other businesses.
Every product and service has a purpose that is helpful to others – even if it’s only to entertain.
I have a cousin named David. He’s a radio personality. When our grandmother was on her deathbed and we gathered with our family for the vigil, David and I had a conversation about our lives. We were both questioning whether our lives had any meaning beyond ourselves. Did we really matter at all?
At one point David said, “Well, what do I do? I say goofy things on the radio. What difference does that really make to anyone?”
I replied that he made a very big difference. He made people laugh on their way to work. He brought a little joy into their day and made them forget their troubles. And that probably eased some stress for them, which helped them think clearly and maybe even solve some of their problems.
People felt like they knew him even though they had never met him. They felt a connection with him. And because of that, they tuned in every morning to listen to him.
David replied that he hadn’t thought about it that way. Suddenly, his perspective changed and his job and his paycheck seemed more meaningful to him.
David was following his heart in his job – he just didn’t know it!
When you help others, you help yourself because others will want your products and services. In David’s case, this meant others wanted to listen to him each morning.
Following Your Heart To Start And Grow Your Business
Following your heart to start a business means starting a business that is helpful to others – either to consumers or to other businesses. And in order to be helpful what you offer has to have value. It has to be more valuable to the person paying for it than the money they give you.
For example, if I create a program to teach people how to start a business online, and I charge $500 for that program, people will expect the program to be worth more than the $500 they paid. And that expectation needs to be met by the time they finish the program.
If their expectation is met, they will be more than willing to buy more programs from me in the future.
That’s how you grow a business. You create products, programs or services that help people by giving them more value than what they’ve paid for. You do this over and over and over again.
The more your business helps people, the more your business will grow. Not only will people buy your products and/or services, they’ll recommend you to their friends.
When NOT To Turn Your Passion Into A Business
But what if you DO have something you’re insanely passionate about? Should you turn that into a business?
The answer is….it depends.
Not every passion lends itself to starting a business. You need to do a little research to find out whether your passion could be profitable.
If there are others selling what you’re thinking of selling, and they are doing well, then you could potentially do well also.
But even if you could, once you turn your passion into a business it becomes work. It would now be something you have to do instead of something you choose to do. So you have to ask yourself if you would still enjoy doing it.
If the answer is absolutely yes, then you should do it. There’s nothing like helping others while doing something you love.
But, if doing the thing you’re passionate about day in and day out makes you exhausted just thinking about it – don’t do it. Pick something else. Otherwise you’ll lose your passion for it.
So, to wrap it all up – following your heart to start a business doesn’t mean you have to do it with a particular passion. It means you have a skill you would like to use to help others – and that BECOMES your passion!
To your success,
PS: What does following your heart to start a business mean to you? Leave me a comment below!