When you’re thinking about starting a business and striking out on your own as an entrepreneur, one of the first things you have to do is sit down and really figure out what you can imagine yourself doing for years and years to come. Once you’ve taken the jump and launched your own company, you can’t just decide in a few years to switch careers the same way you can when you work for someone else. So what you need to do is take the time to really identify your passions, and figure out which one thing you’re so passionate about you can imagine yourself doing it for the rest of your life.
When people come to me for advice, I like to ask them a few questions to get them thinking about their passions:
1. What would you be willing to do for FREE?
You can take one look at your current day job to find out what you’d do for money, but what one thing could you do for free and still be completely satisfied? Some of you are already doing the kinds of things you love for free, pursuing your passions in cooking, gardening, working with the underprivileged, or even consulting, for free, on your own time.
Sometimes, you just haven’t figured out how to make money from your passions. Or maybe you’re just saddled with bills and taking care of your children, which means you can’t simply make the jump to try and turn your passion into a business.
2. What are your primary interests?
This might seem basic, but if you can’t figure out what you’d do for free then a great place to start is simply trying to inventory what interests you. When you’re at a book store, what section do you naturally gravitate towards? What magazines do you subscribe to? What websites do you frequent? By writing down all of these interests you have, and taking note of the kinds of content you’re surrounding yourself with, you’ll get a better picture of which fields you spend enough time pursuing to turn into a business.
3. What makes you mad?
There are some things that just drive you crazy, and those things can be indicators of where your true passions lie. Maybe it’s poor stop lights causing unnecessary traffic, or maybe you get really upset at how bad the writing on television can be at times. I know people who get mad at the font styles that businesses choose on their signs! Whatever ticks you off, if you’re passionate enough to get angry, maybe you’re passionate enough to do something about it. If you can find a way to make that anger productive, that’s probably an area where you can find a way to make money.
4. What demographic do you connect to?
One thing to think about is what kinds of people do you get along with the best or naturally gravitate towards. If you’re at a party or a social event, do you approach the people who are more socially engaged? Do you try and make friends with the introverts? Or do you find yourself trying to entertain the kids of the other guests? Figuring out how you socialize and the kinds of people you gravitate towards may help you figure out what kinds of people where you have shared interests with.
5. What would you regret?
If you’re able to picture yourself in ten, twenty, fifty years—what is the one thing you’d be upset if you never accomplished? What one thing, if you never pursued it, would be a major regret in your life? If you truly have a passion or can see yourself doing something, then you’ll know that you’d regret never giving it a shot.
Once you’ve answered these questions, don’t just leave that information in your head! Open up a new document and type out all of your answers and then save it. Or do what I do and actually go and get a sheet of paper and a pen and write down all of your answers. I know some of you may be saying, “Mario cut to the chase and just tell me how to make money!” Don’t worry I will, but it’s critical you go through this process first. In Part 2 of this series, we’ll take these lists of passions and interests and figure out how you can actually generate revenue from them!
Starting a new business? Get the right tools to get started with AT&T Business Tools.
Having trouble identifying your passions or making your own lists? Leave a comment or a question below and I’ll be sure to help you out!
Mario Armstrong, Digital Lifestyle Expert, is an Emmy Award winning, tech commentator for the TODAY show, CNN, HLN and Fuse. An entrepreneur by nature, Mario made his passion his career by quitting his day job and founding Mario Armstrong Media. Follow Mario at @MarioArmstrong. AT&T has sponsored this blog post.