In your business, should you:
Do what you love?
Offer what the market wants?
The answer is not that easy… because the two options are often not aligned, but to stay in business and actually enjoy it, it’s got to be somewhere in between the two.
Here’s an ideal process:
Step 1 —Be Yourself.
Do what you love in your business.
Talk about you passion, something you would love to create a business with. Since it’s your passion, you are naturally energized to talk about it.
Online, that’s called “creating content.” It can be your writing, your videos, your images, your audio, and also, the links and content you curate (gather and share) from other sources.
As you share your passion with others, you’ll find kindred spirits to connect and talk about your passion. You’ll also be educating the general public so that more people can discover the thing you’re passionate about.
The larger of a platform you use (e.g. Facebook, Youtube, Instagram, Reddit, Medium), the more truly YOU you can be, and yet, there will still be *lots* of people interested in who you authentically are.
The smaller the platform — for example, a tiny local village — the more you have to try to please everyone unless you want to become isolated. This is the beauty of the internet — it is an enormous, almost unlimited, collection of many villages of every style and belief. You can be authentically yourself, gather kindred spirits, and create your own village.
Step 2 —Connect with those who naturally show up.
As you share your passionate content online, eventually you’ll gather some loyal readers or viewers. These are people who consistently follow your content, your fans, and may also be commenting/engaging on your stuff, and perhaps even sharing it forward.
Notice the ones who are engaging with your content the most — the ones who are consistently liking, commenting, or sharing it forward.
These are naturally your tribe. You’ve gathered them not by some clever marketing tactics, but simply by being yourself… by being the “most” you that you can be. They like who you authentically are.
Connect personally with as many of your tribe members as possible. Start a discussion with each one.
You can do this simply via Facebook messaging (don’t do a group message, just individually message each person). You can have the discussion over a private message thread. Or, you might prefer to talk with them over a Zoom private video, or via phone.
Find out what problems they’re facing, in the area of your passion. And what goals would they love to be able to reach, within your area of passion?
Very importantly, get curious about what they have spent money on, in the area of your passion or in a related area. What kinds of products and services did they try already? How about programs, events, or memberships? What did they like about these things they bought? What didn’t they like?
What kind of product, service, or program do they wish existed instead?
Step 3 — Offer what they want.
You could either create the product, service, program, event, or membership that they are wishing for…
Or, you could find someone who has already created it, and partner with them to bring that product/service to your audience, and earn a commission as a result. This is sometimes called a JV (joint venture), affiliate marketing, or a strategic partnership. Your partner company/person takes care of all the logistics. You simply take care of continuing to build your tribe based on your passion and getting to know them better.
Keep repeating the above 3 steps
…to build a larger tribe and a more lucrative business.
Alternatively, once you have built a business that doesn’t require much time from you, you can then use these steps to build another passion-based business.
The above process works, but most people don’t work the process. Why? Because Step 1 takes the longest, so people give up long before they get enough traction.
Successful *and* Authentic
All the successful and authentic businesses — whether it’s a coach, a speaker, a blog, an event, a membership site, a product, a service, etc — basically followed all 3 steps above.
How soon these authentic businesses became financially viable depended on how well they took these steps.
Some are lucky to have started with excellent marketing and people skills, so it went faster for them.
Others had to learn those skills through a *lot* of trial, error, observation, and practice. But they stuck with it, so they became financially viable *and* able to be their authentic selves.
Successful and Inauthentic
The businesses that succeed *who are inauthentic* (which ultimately ends in stagnation and misery!) basically skipped Step 1.
They went right to Step 2, by observing who is already showing up in other people’s tribes, connecting with them, and offering them what they wanted… without first building their own tribe with their authentic self. They were being too much of a chameleon, and therefore their conscience will fight them all along the way, until it sabatoges theri efforts down the road.
There’s one more type:
Unsuccessful *and* inauthentic business basically skipped Steps 1 and 2, and tried going right to Step 3: offering what they think the market wants, without it based on their passion (Step 1), or market understanding (Steps 2).
Take the 3 Steps and keep coming back to the process.
If you want to build a business you’re passionate about, where you can be authentically you, then take all 3 steps above.
Along the way, also learn authentic business, and practice your people skills (i.e. learn to give others a good experience of connecting with you) so that you can make your passion more than just a hobby.
Do what you love,
Connect with who shows up,
And offer them what they want.