I wrote and published my first ebook way back in 1997.
It was for a very small and specialized niche. Since then, that little ebook has sold over SEVEN HUNDRED copies. Even today, it sells a few every month – with no effort at all.
That didn’t happen because I was smart – but because I was lucky.
Intuitively I had picked a niche that was in high demand by my target audience. It was information they simply had to have, because it offered the solution to a pressing problem that couldn’t be solved in any other way.
Few information marketers today have the luxury of taking such a chance with their product creation, especially now when over-looked niches with little competition are almost non-existent. More than ever before, anyone venturing into a new niche must be able to do one thing accurately and well in order to succeed.
As I decided to write this, I saw a post on a popular discussion forum.
It was from someone who had invested quite a bit of time and effort into building his online business, was nearing the point where it could start being profitable, but was running short of energy and inspiration to keep going.
I’m never giving up. But I need some motivation. Please help!
…was his plaintive cry.
I responded briefly. But that reply got me thinking about how to address a similar problem that every entrepreneur faces at one time or another in their own online business.
That sickening feeling of burn out.
Go Back To Your Roots
I’ve fielded this question several times over the 15 years that I have worked on my online projects:
How do you fit so many things into your schedule? Isn’t it hard? Don’t you feel like giving up sometimes?
And to be honest, it isn’t always easy juggling parallel careers, each of which could be busy full-time jobs. There are often periods when I’m tempted to scale down, to take it slow, to reduce responsibilities – until I ask myself that magical question.
“What Made You Do This?”
Thinking about the answer to your deeper ‘WHY’ is always illuminating – and inspirational. Fame or money, curiosity or circumstance, whim or worry… something pushed you into building an online business.
What was it?
For some entrepreneurs, starting a business was a career decision.
They saw an opportunity in the marketplace, seized upon a chance to profit from it, and ended up building a business that grew rapidly and made them rich. But in many instances, if that was their sole motivation, the sense of satisfaction and thrill they gained from the venture is transient and unfulfilling, at least after the initial rush is over.
That’s why some of them become serial entrepreneurs, creating one start-up after another, well beyond the point where they need to do it from a purely financial standpoint. The thrill and excitement of building something keeps them going.
For others, the stimulus to build a business is rooted in a deeper passion or desire. It may be selfish – or selfless. It may be relevant to many others – or only to themselves. Whatever their motivation, it is often powerful enough to get them to overcome inertia and take action.
Purpose Overshadows Risk
Launching a business, even an Internet based one, carries a certain degree of risk.
There is financial risk, for sure, and there is risk of failure, of time invested into the project, and of not picking the right choices. To overcome all these risks and plunge ahead takes some courage and fortitude, and that’s often provided by one’s passion or sense of purpose.
A person appalled at the state of cleanliness of his neighborhood may launch a garbage hauling business to fix the problem.
Another who sees the daily struggle of her handicapped parent may invest into building a company that manufactures wheelchairs or other aids for elderly folks.
And online, too, the business one builds can be related to a real world problem or opportunity that can be leveraged on the Web.
My own information marketing business, for instance, grew in part as an extension of my love for writing.
But the driving force behind it was the desire to generate enough profit from it to pursue my true passion to carry out life saving heart surgery for children from under-privileged families who couldn’t afford the cost.
So while every business is not directly connected with the purpose behind it, it’s often true that successful small online businesses are run by people with a passionate purpose.
How Does Passion Help?
Does being passionate really matter for business success?
Some would argue that it doesn’t – and maybe they’re right. I don’t believe, however, that working on a business you’re not passionate about is as deeply fulfilling – and even as likely to succeed – as one where you are.
The reason is simple.
Any venture, no matter how small, will bring with it some attendant hurdles and obstacles that you must overcome. As your business grows, these challenges multiply, grow bigger, and take more effort to work through. During these times of challenge and struggle, the one thing that will keep you constantly motivated and focused is the purpose behind the venture.
Why did you begin?
Why did you stick with it?
Why do you want to keep on?
Why does it matter if you fail?
Why are you afraid?
… and above all else…
Why MUST you succeed?
You’ve probably read about the Spanish conqueror Hernan Cortez scuttling the ships in his fleet during an attack on the Aztec empire, leaving his army no alternative but to defeat the enemy.
It’s a similar attitude, one that leaves you with no ‘out’ or ‘escape’ but to succeed, that will ensure that you stay on course despite rough weather.
Your equivalent of “scuttling the ships” must be your driving purpose.
An accountant who works with non-profits once taught me a valuable lesson. He said:
When I total up figures in rows and columns for my clients, I don’t see numbers. I see the faces of the children I’m working to help!
Learn to keep your purpose clearly in mind all the time.
See beyond the day to day challenges to the results of your hard work, sacrifice and struggle. Dream and visualize the changed reality that you will be creating through your business.
No matter if it is mundane or world-changing, your personal purpose matters greatly in keeping you motivated and engaged. That’s why its so helpful to keep asking yourself:
What made you do this?
If I asked you that question, what would your answer be?
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Late to Bed, Early to Rise, Makes an Entrepreneur, Happy, Cheerful & Nice!
What gets you so excited you can’t wait to begin working on it today?
Think about it while you read the rest of this post.
A few decades ago, I got married. It was barely two weeks later that my wife and I had our first serious argument.
I kept my computer turned on, working late into the night, while she wanted to sleep… and couldn’t stand the disturbance of a flickering monitor screen!
Many years later, we’re still married and occasionally argue about things. The most frequent cause remains the same…
I still work late into the night on my interests!
What makes it worth doing for so many years? Through many acrimonious fights? At much personal hardship?
In a word –
I love writing. I love the thought of my words touching many lives. I love that the profit from my labors helps little children live.
Because I love this so much, I’m up early in the morning, eager to write and stay awake late into the night, grabbing every opportunity to write.
Passion won through and this article you’re reading came about!
Your passion may be different.
Indeed, it would be rare to find two people who share exactly the same passions. But the reality is that everyone is passionate about something.
You probably are already aware of the things you’re passionate about. Or maybe you haven’t yet discovered it. When you identify your passion and align it with whatever you’re doing, a magical synergy happens that will effortlessly carry you to rarefied heights.
Work becomes joyous and pleasurable.
Hours fly by, unnoticed.
Tiredness and fatigue take the backseat as you power your way to greater achievements.
Yes, working on something you have passion for can be very rewarding.
So how do you tap into this powerhouse of energy lying dormant inside you and harness it to your business and career?
It may happen quite by accident and you’re lucky if it does. However, you can also approach your “passion research” as a structured process. I’m going to share that method with you here.
How To Identify Your Real Passion?
Everybody – including YOU – has something they love. Something they know very well and enjoy doing. Something that’s a hobby or a favorite pursuit.
Maybe it’s a technical skill like computer programming.
Maybe it’s an emotional issue like raising children with special needs.
Maybe it’s a day-to-day activity like cooking or gardening.
Maybe it’s something esoteric and exotic like searching for signs of alien intelligence.
Or a hobby like traveling, knitting, racing or yachting.
Regardless of what, you are passionate about something.
The good news, as an online business owner and entrepreneur, is that you can build an information empire around any topic or issue that you enjoy and love, that you like reading, talking and writing about.
You don’t have to be an expert. You don’t even have to know much about your topic. You just have to be enthusiastic about it.
Once you identify such a topic, your passion conveys itself to your audience. It sucks them into your vortex, gets them involved, and converts them into your loyal fans. In time, this audience will evolve into a community with a spirit and ethos of its own – that revolves around your passion.
So, let’s begin the exploratory adventure of finding your real passions.
Ready? Great. Let’s go.
Your Brain Dump Exercise
Before beginning, I want you to repeat this sentence out loud – three times:
“Everything that happened in my life is worth money.”
Now go on and say it out loud.
Do you believe it?
Well, you soon will!
Make sure you will not be disturbed for a reasonable length of time (maybe 30 minutes, or an hour). Sit down with a few sheets of paper and a pencil or pen.
On the first sheet of paper, make a list of your most important experiences, memories and skills. Start from early childhood and follow the events of your life sequentially.
What have you done?
What successes and failures did you experience?
Which ones taught you valuable lessons?
Anything that made an impact on your life could potentially be the one which hides your true passion within it.
For example, let’s say you watched a film star smoking cigarettes, and it led you to take up smoking as a teenager, until today you’re a chain smoker with bad lungs.
Would that make you want to stop this happening to other kids? Would you care enough to tell adults who smoke in front of children to do things differently? Maybe. If you felt particularly strong emotions about your current health, you may even be passionate about this mission.
So make your list.
Add everything to it that you remember as significant life events. In school and college, or later at a job or career. In your family, your community, and in society. As a son or daughter, a sibling, a parent, a grand-parent.
To make it easier to bring these to memory, you can break down your past experience by decade. For each phase in your life, ask yourself the following questions:
What do you consider your best skills, talents and learning experiences?
What specific things did you learn and become expert at?
What were your greatest failures that you later learned to overcome?
What are the lessons that you now consider most precious?
These questions are designed to get your brain charged and to jump-start your thinking. As you pick up steam, you’ll find your list growing bigger, faster.
Take as long as you need to make your list. Then, when you’re finished, go through each item and ask yourself these 5 questions:
1. Does this topic interest and excite you? 2. Can you create useful content about this topic? 3. Do you know a lot about this topic? 4. Are you eager to share your knowledge and experience with others? 5. By sharing this, will you help many people?
At the end of this short, simple exercise, you’ll have a very short list – maybe only one thing remains on it. And it will be what you are passionate about!
It will be something you’ll wake up with the lark (early in the morning) for and that you’ll stay awake with the owl (late into the night) with… because you love doing it, reading, talking and writing about it, sharing it with the world.
When you find a way to tie that in with your business, you’ll enjoy everything you do along your entrepreneurial journey… for a long, long time to come.
But this doesn’t mean you can simply rush out and launch a business around your passion. There’s one more step to take before making that decision, and we’ll address it in another report soon.
What do you think about linking passion to your business and entrepreneur ventures? Share your thoughts and feedback about the “passion research” process in the comments below.
The problem is that many want to become an expert overnight!
Now that may be possible in very narrowly defined niches, but even there the desirability of such ‘expertise’ is in question.
We all know and respect experts as having had long, immersive and intense knowledge and experience with a particular subject or skill. Indeed that’s the reason we look up to them.
Lately I’ve been noticing a flurry to create the impression of being an expert – by writing a book, by building a brand, by giving talks and presentations – which is hard to understand or explain.
True, the authority symbols of being a published author or keynote speaker or syndicated columnist are helpful in enhancing the expert status you attain – but on their own, these things don’t make you an expert.
There’s a lot going on behind the scenes before you can appear on your stage wearing ‘expert status’ as the crown on your head.
There were many favorites. Mrs.Raju from 3rd grade. Mr.Daniel from high school. Dr.Laxminarayan from medical college.
Prof.A.M.S. was my mentor throughout medical education. He was a remarkable man with an incredible work ethic. He’d wake up at 7 a.m. to read for a couple of hours before seeing patients. He’d carry on right until 2 or 3 a.m. the next morning, taking only brief breaks for a quick lunch and dinner.
When I built my first website in 1995 on Geocities, it was about a subject I was passionate. Congenital heart defects. In a month, on average, the site had 8 visitors. I didn’t care. Mine was a labor of love.
A talent scout for About.com (then The Mining Company) found me, invited me to write for About.com’s heart disease section, and I was soon making what seemed like a royal income for a post-grad in India.
I cringe when I hear newbies being advised to start out with cold-blooded calculations of niche profitability, audience metrics and other ‘marketing speak’ – with scarcely any consideration to what matters most… their PASSION.
Where’s YOUR fire?
That’s what will keep burning, simmering or smoldering, and make you stick with whatever you do.
That’s the unique ingredient no one else can mimic, copy or replicate, making you and your work distinct.
That’s the ‘secret recipe’ that virtually guarantees that you’ll end up with influence and retain the attention of your audience.