I spend a lot of of my time working with people who are trying to figure out what to do for a living.
I usually start by sending them on an internal expedition, examining the nuances, thoughts and feelings of their body, mind and spirit for clues about what interests them.
They carry around notebooks in which they furiously scribble insights, create vision boards, bookmark websites like crazy, make spreadsheets and stuff files with pictures and magazine clippings.
Then they get back in touch with me, feeling a bit perplexed and overwhelmed, sharing a summary list which looks something like this:
The Pittsburgh Steelers
small business marketing
old episodes of Friends
They say “I sure love all these things, but how in the world can I make a business out of them?”
To which I reply:
You are ingredients in search of a recipe.
Or perhaps many recipes.
A common misconception about the process of entrepreneurship is that you have to fit all your interests into one neatly tied up and integrated business which will allow you to express all of your passions.
Instead, I like to think of skills and interests as ingredients to use selectively in different business models, depending on the opportunities and market.
So you could say:
“I think I want to use salsa dancing as the main staple for my next venture. I will round out the flavor with a bit of coding, by creating a killer website that hosts great instructional videos for novice dancers, and will sprinkle in a little bit of photography so I can take stunning photos of professional dancers to use in their promotional materials.”
“I would love to spend some time in Pittsburgh so I can catch all the Steeler home games live. I think I will focus on organic farming in the northeast, using a few cups of marketing to help local farmers expand their offerings in the slow winter season. I hear that there are some amazing rug dealers in the area, so when not doing small business marketing, I will try to find some great pieces and sell them on eBay.”
Looking at your interests this way, you can see that you don’t have to use all the ingredients at once, in the same measure, in the same recipe.
All you need to do is to continually refine your list of ingredients, and combine them in ways that interest you and taste great.
When you feel like something is off or missing from your current endeavor, experiment with adding shakes of ingredients to liven things up.
“My coaching business is really boring at the moment. How could I add a touch of Burning Man to the mix and make it more interesting?”
“My traditional wedding photography business is hitting the wall. What if I added a few teaspoons of drag racing to it, how would that impact the photos?”
“I love my accounting work, but am bored to tears in my small town. What would happen if I added some location independent to the mix and balanced books from Burkina Faso?”
What is your list of ingredients?