Whether I was attempting to launch an all-purple swimsuit line or convert my cats into vlogging celebrities, I stayed busy as a child pursuing my newest “master plan.” This entrepreneurial bug later led me to business school and to the pages of a number of business books, the latest of which was The $100 Startup by Chris Guillebeau. Guillebeau is a serial entrepreneur who markets himself as having visited over 175 nations and never held a “real job.” For the book, he interviewed other entrepreneurs whose penchants for starting up businesses have allowed them the freedom to pursue the lifestyles of their dreams while doing what they love. Here are my top tips, inspired by The $100 Startup, on figuring out how you too can convert your passion into a business!
1. Focus on the convergence of what you love to do and what others will pay for
A successful business needs two core things: passion and an audience. If you want this thing to work, you need to enjoy your work, and others have to want to pay you to do it. This is why not all passions make good businesses. For example, I love eating ice cream, but nobody wants to pay me to do that. However, if I convert that passion into something like a guide to all the best ice cream places in the U.S., other ice cream addicts may be willing to pay for it.
2. Don’t just consider your obvious skills—skill transformation means you’re capable of much more than you think!
The concept of skill transformation is pretty self-explanatory: basically, you can take skills you currently have and apply them to new contexts to produce slightly different skills. For example, as a travel blogger, I know I’m pretty good at writing about trips. However, the skills it takes to be a good travel blogger (seeking out beautiful destinations, taking nice photos) may also make me a good senior photo photographer. So if you feel you don’t have any marketable skills, dig a little deeper.
3. Think in terms of benefits and why, not features and what
As a consumer, we’re inundated with cutting-edge features and highly-technical details about products. Humans are naturally emotional beings, however. Of course, your product or service must have cool features, but you can stand out from the pack by also thinking about the why and emotional benefits of what you’re offering. The why is reason you do what you do. The emotional benefits are what the consumer gets from your product. For example, the emotional benefit of a dress is the feeling of being beautiful the wearer experiences. Both the why and the emotional benefits of your product should be reflected in the marketing of the item and at the forefront of your mind as you craft your business plan.
4. Differentiate yourself and get specific
Another way to stand out is to identify your specialty. What makes your ice cream guide better than all the others? Does it have scratch and sniff ice cream photos? You don’t have to go crazy with this and do something super weird, but zoning in on what aspect of your passion you’re especially passionate about can help you focus your efforts and build expertise.
5. Just do it!
Planning is great, but if not combined with action, it eventually just becomes a procrastination method. So at some point, you’ve got to pull a Nike and just do it.
6. Trial, evaluate, improve, repeat
Not trying to be a downer but, don’t expect your launch to be perfect because it won’t. That’d be so boring anyway if you got the business 100% right on the first try! I’m not saying the whole idea will flop, I’m just saying there will probably be little things you can improve. Seek feedback from customers, test out different offers and versions of products, and see what happens. Keep improving, keep curious, and most importantly: keep going.
Cover Image via Winkingcow.com
Also published on Medium.