You’ve got to follow your passion says Oprah Winfrey and a host other success authorities.
Good advice. Except for one thing…
Unless you are exceptionally gifted, this advice will likely leave you more confused than convinced.
Most people find it torture-some figuring out the one thing they are passionate about that will lead to a profitable venture.
This is largely because of how we are taught to go about it. You are expected to sit in meditation, dig up a list and force your brain and inner being to search out your ultimate passion and breakthrough idea.
That’s like trying to discover a goldmine from a geographical map.
If you want to discover your breakthrough idea, you have to step out and get something started.
Let me tell you a business story that is not about writing.
Mrs. Ogunwale was passionate about catering. She won a deep freezer after a vocational training program decades ago, and started her catering business, around Lagos toll-gate. She also sells cold ‘sachet-water’.
One hot afternoon a young boy; a hawkers along the expressway, approached her to help freeze his bag of sachet water that was as hot as the scotching sun.
Reluctantly, she agreed on the terms that he’ll pay ten naira ($0.03) for the service. By the end of the day, she made sixty naira ($0.18) doing business with the little boy. More than what she makes from her catering business.
She identified an audience (roadside sachet-water sellers) and a need (cold water).
Curious to see how this will turn out, she started offering sachet-water freezing service to roadside hawkers.
She learned more about the business and soon abandoned catering to focus on sachet water business.
Within two years, she had bought 12 deep freezers, moved to a bigger space and gone from offering freezing service to selling her own packaged water.
Today she has built a successful company producing bottle water, bitters and other line of products.
What if she had stuck with the advice of ‘Keep doing what you love…’?
- Your profitable idea is not necessarily in the niche you settle for but in the problem you devote to solve and the experience you bring in the lives of people.
- To position for success, be willing to take advantage of trends and act on opportunities.
- You are in a better position to discover your business advantage and breakthrough idea when you step in and get started.
Your duty as an entrepreneur is to bring passion and enthusiasm to opportunity.
I created a well read scholarship and opportunity website but I’m not passionate about scholarships and competitions. I’m passionate about being a part of something that’s helping people achieve their dreams and live a better life.
I can’t quantify the number of people that have won scholarships to study abroad and other award opportunities from the platform. They could be in hundreds; may be thousands. The thought of having such impact compels me to be passionate and enthusiastic about what I do.
Here’s the interesting part. When I started AfterSchoolAfrica, it wasn’t about scholarships or any of such things. It was my blog to write about career and personal development after school.
But I was curious to find out what my site visitors were interested in. They had more interest in ‘opportunities for career development’ than ‘advice on career development’. I took advantage.
You’ve seen online entrepreneurs build successful platforms on news, scholarships, admission, job vacancy and entertainment. If they are honest with you, most will tell you that they are not as passionate about their niche, as they are about the satisfaction of giving people the knowledge and information they want.
Some will also tell you that what the platform is today was not what they intended when they started.
They are driven by the satisfaction that as they continue to inform, inspire, encourage or entertain their readers, they are improving and/or engaging the lives of other people, growing their audience and getting paid.
I don’t suggest that you start a business or career in a field you have zero interest in.
Here is what I mean.
Step out and start with your interest – call it passion if your will. But let it be a window to discover an opportunity within that context. Then give it your all.
Want to Build your Business Creating Content Online? Let your passion follow You
If you want to establish authority or expertise as a Public Speaker, writer, author, Politician, Business Owner, Entrepreneur or Pastor, chances are that you have an idea on what topic to build your platform around.
But that doesn’t mean you’ve got it figured out.
People will not flood your platform on ‘Personal Financial Advice’ when there are thousand other more established content creators in the same field.
Be strategic. Define your audience. Listen. And take advantage of opportunities.
For instance, Ramit Seth and J.D. Roth are both personal finance bloggers. But what they do is totally different. Ramit’s blog IWillTeachYouToBeRich, focuses on how to earn more, get pay raise and start a side business. Roth’s blog GetRichSlowly (he sold it in 2009), centers on investment and saving habits that will make you rich slowly.
Same niche. Different perspective. Different results.
Step in. Be curious to find out what your readers’ want. You’ll discover an opportunity to solve an existing problem for a group of people. Take your passion along with you.