We’ve all heard the adage at one time or another: “Choose a job you love and you’ll never have to work a day in your life.” While on the surface true, this quote greatly underestimates the amount of grit, hard work, and determination needed to turn one’s passion into a viable career.
Sweat and tears are an inevitable part of an entrepreneur’s journey. And in order to start your own business, you need to work hard. The most important thing is that this work is endurable when it is in the service of something you are passionate about. After all, if you don’t truly believe in what you’re doing, it’s hard to justify the effort needed to be successful.
As someone who has had the good fortune to turn their passion into a career, I am often asked how others can do the same. I could write an entire book on this topic (and I actually did), but there are some basic steps you need to take to bring an idea to life that can be summed up more succinctly. Without a clear vision, detailed plan, and commitment to following the path you set for yourself, your dream will remain a dead letter. The truth is, there’s no secret sauce, no magic formula — just a hell of a lot of work. Liz Elling, the author of this article, has learned a lot in the 25 years of growing the startup she started in her bedroom into a multi-billion dollar international business, one article can’t cover it all, the abbreviated version is a good place to start.
To win big, you have to dream big (and have the will to follow through).
Give yourself the time and space to truly dream, without limits, without judgment. Be clear about what you’re really passionate about (not what your peers are doing, not what your family thinks you should be doing, or even those unnecessary expectations of success we often place on ourselves). If you don’t do it for yourself, if you don’t put your heart into it, you risk finding yourself at a critical moment of doing or holding back, doing more harm than progress. True passion is what will help you find more to give, even when you think you have nothing left. It’s fuel, and there will be times throughout your journey when you need it.
Once you know what you want, get on the ball, and start making a concrete plan. The initial plan doesn’t have to be perfect (it will change a lot), but it should be solid enough that you know your North Star and the key steps needed to get there. The good news is that you don’t have to craft this plan yourself. There are many great books on how successful people bring their ideas to life. Like anything worthwhile, it takes work. Cultivating a thirst to absorb, learn, and evolve as much as possible is the way to continue feeding your passion in order to lead it to fulfillment.
Stick to your plan, build a strong foundation, and then keep building and improving.
Once you have a definite plan and know where you want to go, where you want to start, and all the steps in between, it’s time to get to work. Be sure to learn with each new client or project – yes, you did a good job and the client is happy, but were there any behind-the-scenes failures that could be streamlined better next time? Find out if there are areas for improvement and do this over and over again, always looking for flaws to fix, improvements to make and opportunities for growth. Never stop improving your process.
When you run a business – especially in the beginning, when your determination is to see your idea through the only manager you have responsibility for – you need to own the project and hold yourself accountable. Stick to your deadlines or re-evaluate the reasons you missed them and adjust accordingly. Always go back to your plan. Do you reach your goals on time? If not, why? How do you adapt to get back on track? Have your goals changed? Does new information need to be taken into account? These are the kinds of questions any entrepreneur, whether beginner or seasoned, must constantly ask themselves.
Build your business wisely, but never stop looking for ways to grow and develop.
A recession guarantees the death of the company. When you stop developing and trying to improve, you lose your competitive advantage. The world is constantly changing and advancing. If you stay still for too long, your work will get left behind.
It is important to scale your business wisely; Pushing boundaries is where many companies lose their footing, but you need to balance that need with keeping up with your industry. The trick is setting goals that are achievable and making plans that are realistic but flexible enough to rotate and expand as needed. Life always throws you surprises, but if you have a solid foundation and move at a steady pace (while constantly looking for ways to improve and streamline yourself), you’ll be in a much better position to get through it.
Keep learning, growing, and investing in yourself. Differentiate your brand from the competition in ways that are original to you and your brand, adding personal touches whenever possible (for example, have a real person answer the phone or attach handwritten thank you notes with every delivery). It is absolutely essential when starting your business and building relationships with your customers and partners.
Your customers are an incredible resource, so listen up! Find out what services, offerings, or other resources your customers need, what gaps they want filled, and what problems they want solved. Whether your company is destined to become a one-stop-shop that takes care of everything or is perfecting one service or product, by listening to your customers you will find your place in your sector; By relying only on what you can do, you will stand out from your competitors. By specifically listening to her clients’ needs, she has transformed the startup that Liz Elting co-founded in a dormitory into a multi-billion dollar global powerhouse.
Take calculated risks and know your limits.
One of the most important aspects of achieving your dream is knowing when and where to take calculated risks. There are no guarantees in life and starting a business inevitably involves a lot of risk. So yeah, of course, you have to push yourself, but be careful not to overdo it. Without limits, it is very easy to get lost and lose everything.
Set firm boundaries that you won’t cross, whether it’s how you initially fund your business, the types of partners and clients you work with, the percentage of revenue reinvested in the business, your recruitment processes or your quality standards. For example, a big part of Liz Elting’s vision for her work was not to be submissive to anyone. So it vowed to be entirely self-financed (no loans, no outside investors, no donated seed money, almost everything you earned was reinvested in the business).
Your safety is something you should not risk, it is very precious. To achieve a dream, you have to get out of your comfort zone, but that doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice your values. So, take the right risks, while maintaining your integrity and respecting your boundaries, no matter what.
The road is long and hard, so celebrate your successes along the way.
Turning your dream into reality is not for the faint of heart, but those moments of victory, when you are literally living your dream, are priceless. There is no such thing as building something from a simple idea. Seeing all that you’ve worked so hard to achieve and make a difference in people’s lives – all thanks to your determination and courage – is so rewarding. Now go ahead, dream and make that dream come true. You deserve to live the life of your dreams. We all deserve it.
Translated article from Forbes US – Author: Liz Elting
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