Every January and February I hear the words “over the Christmas break I decided to start a business.” And whilst it makes my heart sing to see the enthusiasm of new entrepreneurs, I also have some trepidation.
Many people start a business for exactly the right reason. These include a burning desire to create their own “thing”, needing more flexibility (especially with the kids now at school), being sick of working for a boss, having a million dollar idea or simply wanting to make the world a better place. Sometimes it’s that someone has said “You’re really good at that – you should go into business.”
We have all heard the advice that “you should focus on what you are good at doing”. This is pretty sound and I have no issue with it – however there is more...
In addition to doing what you are good at there should be an overlap with what you love. I’ve seen way too many people who are extremely good at something and so pursue that as a vocation or a business, but end up hating it because it doesn’t light them up. For example, I know a great accountant who’d love to be a property developer and a restaurant manager who’d love to be a naturopath. My favourite though is the Monty Python “Vocational Guidance Counsellor” take on it – see it here
For these people their lives only begin after work.
Even more significantly, the intersection of what you do well and what you love is invariably your passion - and may even be your purpose. Working at your passion and purpose is truly inspiring and a prerequisite if you want a successful business.
But there is even more…
Even if you are absolutely brilliant at whatever it is, passion and purpose alone are not enough. The world must also need what it is you do or make. Without that you’ll end up with a garage full of stuff that no one wants.
Or even worse – you’ve done your research and established a genuine need, only to find out that the world won’t pay for it! And without this you certainly don’t have a business.
For example, I don’t know about you, but on the odd occasion when I make an egg sandwich, I’ve been frustrated at being unable to line up the egg slices with the edge of the sliced bread. So when I came across the boiled egg squarer (that produces cube-shaped boiled eggs) I was definitely tempted – but not that tempted to buy one.
You could say the same for Pet Rocks (popular in the 1970’s). What a great idea, but who really needs a pet rock? What products do you have lying around that you saw a great need for at the time but in hindsight really wish you hadn’t bought? Let me know and I’ll publish a list so we can all laugh with each other…
So yes, build a business around your passion and your purpose, but also make sure to do the research to establish both a need and a want.
PS - Just to confirm, no, I don’t have boiled egg squarer, though I do have lots of other “useful” junk! But that’s the subject of another blog :)