From passion to business ideas
So in Part 1 of this Inside Out Approach To Entrepreneurship series, you went inside to realize your passion. You made a list of things you love and why. That is your niche. (Image by Patrick J Lynch)
Starting a business is really simple. You now develop that niche to something people love to pay for. It doesn’t have to be something that EVERYONE wants to get. A long tail market is sufficient if the product or the service can be promoted on the internet.
So, in my case (again, I’m using my own real life experience as an example), I decided to become a life coach with my passion for personal development. I paid several thousand dollars for the professional training course. I set up a sales page on this Yes to Me blog about my programs. (The page is currently taken down.) Here is a post that I wrote in one of my marketing efforts.
Can you take failures and learn from them?
Starting a business is really simple. Note I didn’t say easy.
I failed completely as a life coach. In fact, it was worse than a failure. It was more like a sad stillbirth. It never really took off. Failures would mean something I did wrong in my practice or business development. In my case, I just got no paying clients.
Looking back, I can think of some reasons why I failed as life coach:
- I did not market it well – I didn’t define my niche clearly and appropriately.
- I did not make enough marketing efforts.
- I gave up too quickly.
- I am meant to do something else.
In all my honesty, I can’t say it’s because I don’t have the skills to be a successful coach. Again, if I had clients and they left me quickly or something, then I can assume this may be the case. But in my case, so few people really got to know me as a coach. So it’s more of a marketing problem than skill problem, I think.
Another potential problem is – well, by now I know quite a few life coaches, but not as many people who are hiring or have hired coaches. I myself didn’t have a coach before (I hired one this spring to summer when I realized this.) So, I wonder if my passion for personal development was polished enough to the point that people would love to pay for when I decided to do coaching?
More questions to contemplate to find your winning niche
Is your niche polished to the point that it is marketable? That is, is it something worth paying for?
If not, a few more questions you might want to ask yourself are:
- Are there services or products you gladly pay for and you wish to be the provider of? Can you become the provider? Don’t write off your interests too quickly as outrageous.
- Are there any qualities about yourself and your life that you perceive as your weakness? Are there service or products that can improve them, or can you think of some new services that can improve them? Can you provide them?
The reason you might want to check your “weakness” is that if you can see it as weakness, you are probably not too far from solutions. People who are truly clueless don’t even know their weaknesses.
While I was “searching for my soul” to define my new life path, I had the opportunity to have my Akashic Record read. I was so impressed that I decided to learn how to do it myself. This is when I was still thinking of becoming a life coach, and on the conscious level, I thought this was just one more thing I’m adding to my learning. One the deeper level, however, I must say I knew something . . .
I always knew words and ideas came from thin air when I wanted to write. And when I started to meditate daily last year (I had been meditating on and off for over twenty years or so, but I made a clear decision to do this daily after reading the Secret), I got the idea to move to Portland, Oregon, which I obliged. The relocation really opened up a lot of space within me and let me be myself. All these events were leading me to this psychic stuff . . .
So thanks to the wonderfully structured training my teacher gave me, I now offer Akashic Record Reading. It’s something I paid happily, so I know there are people who would pay for this service And it beautifully fits with my passion for personal development and my love of working with various people.
Polishing your niche is an ongoing effort
It’s not something you do once and for all to become an entrepreneur. You need to keep becoming a successful entrepreneur. I currently spend half my time learning more and developing my skills further. I can already offer accurate reading and make my clients happy, so possibly I can use the time to take in more clients to make more money, but I don’t think that is a wise approach.
Also, I think a lot how I want to develop my niche further. For example, do I want to keep this business to myself or do I want to partner up and carve out a bigger niche? I don’t have a written business plan – I prefer to keep things fluid at this time – but I do have ideas how to serve more clients.
Are you finding a niche you can market? Then read on to Part 3.
Related reading: Why I Couldn’t Become An Entrepreneur Earlier How I missed out the opportunities before. Learn from my mistakes and fears.
So how do you become an entrepreneur?
This is the first post of Inside Out Approach to Entrepreneurship series. It is going to be a very important and experimental series.
As I wrote in A Year Without Paychecks Part 2, I quit my corporate job last September. I now work for myself, and my business is profitable. So I guess my readers would be saying something like, “Oh, that’s great, Akemi, but how can I start my own business? I want to become an entrepreneur, too, but I have no clue where to start.”
I’m more than happy to help. In fact, that is the reason I started this Yes to Me blog – to help aspiring entrepreneurs to actually start a small business.
I’ve had just one hesitation, however, about tackling this topic head on. I’m a new entrepreneur myself. It’s been a fun ride for me, but does my advice have any weight for the aspiring entrepreneurs?
My solution: What if I offer myself as a target of criticism while I ramble on my advice?
I think I’m on the right path, but heck, I’m open to hear any criticism. So I will be talking about the following steps to entrepreneurship and sharing my experiences. And I’m sending out open invitation to the following business experts online so that they can say whatever they please in the comments or in their own blogs.
Inside Out Steps to Entrepreneurship
Everyone is welcome to participate. Here are some people who are pros on this topic that I’m hereby inviting:
Cath Lawson The bold business advisor
Tom Volkar Great life coach who specializes in career improvement
Tim Brownson Another great and controversial life coach
Tom Stine Yet another life coach, a spiritual one
Jen (MMND) Young millionaire retiree who is now offering coaching
I feel a bit of masochistic pleasure about including these successful life coaches because in this series I will have to discuss the failure of my own life coaching business.
Readers, if you are an aspiring entrepreneur, you might want to write your pending questions in the comments – as you know, I respond to all comments, and some of these experts may be kind enough to respond, too.
Step 1, Find the Niche
So, the first step is to decide what you want to do. And this is the biggest question. Most aspiring entrepreneurs seem to be stuck here.
I think you are stuck because you are looking outside of yourself. No, you first need to go within and know what you love to do. Then you figure out how you can develop it to products and services that people would love to pay for, which will be Step 2, Polish your niche.
Now I’ve already figured out what I love to do, but in order to show you how you might want to do this step, I’ll pretend I’m clueless. If you already know who you are and what you love to do, go ahead and skip this one. Just be sure it’s something you love, not just something you can do.
If you go into business with what you can do but you hardly care about it, even if you can do it well, you are setting yourself up for misery. You could be buried in money and feeling lonely and unfulfilled. Why would you want to do that? Is it any better than your current job?
How to find what you love to do
If you have been doing what everyone else wants you to do, you may have forgotten what you love to do. Very sad. So to remember who you are and what you love, pull out a sheet of paper and do a bit of inventory work.
Questions you may consider:
- Which books do I love reading? And why? (Check your bookshelf.)
- Which movies do I love watching?
- Which music do I love?
- What activity do I love to do?
- Which aspects of my current job do I love?
- More things that come to your mind regarding what you love to do
My list looks like this.
The Autobiography of Malcolm X – great life story.
How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie – I remember reading this when I was in high school (yes, in Japanese), long before the term “personal development” was in fashion.
Various books on personal and spiritual development including those by Alan Cohen, Deepak Copra, Tao Te Ching.
Greek mythology and various other mythologies
Lost in Translation – sophisticated sense of humor and great story
Beautiful Mind – great life story
Amadeus – great life story with great music
Baroque, Mozart, some airs in opera (I’m not very specific)
Lois Armstrong and Billy Holiday – great voices. I like the human warmth and power.
Reading and learning – I just never get tired of reading and learning new things.
Writing – I like sharing and communicating.
Quiet time, like walking in the park early morning
Aspects of my last job (assisting president of mid-size company, along with general admin responsibilities):
Variety – I like doing a lot of things rather than doing the same thing all day long.
People – I like dealing with many people and building long-term trusting relationships.
Creativity – I was allowed to do a lot of things my way because I was the only person who could do them.
Also, I used to be a teacher. I liked teaching (languages) to adults and young adults because it was a lot about communication and relationship building.
When I was in school, I liked history a lot. All those fascinating stories and movements! When I went to college, I thought of studying psychology, but was discouraged when I figured that it’s about treating “dysfunctions.”
Do you see a common thread?
“Great life story”came up a couple of times, and the factor of people. So are the aspects of communication and dealing with people. And the long time interest in personal development.
So . . . when I learned about a profession called “life coach”, I thought that must be something meant for me . . . (continued to Part 2)
Further resource: If you can shed out some cash, Naomi Dunford offers one-on-one phone brainstorming session on this. I have worked with her – not to find my niche but to market my niche – and can say she is a very smart and sweet pro.
How does your list look like? Do you know your love and passion now?
After spending 1264 words in this post examining the paycheck mentality that I found in myself hidden deep under the surface, I feel I still haven’t told the whole truth of my year since I quit my corporate job at the end of last September. That post was like reviewing myself from the current vintage point and didn’t really describe what it was like to live this year. So here is my follow-up.
(Photo by Michael Dawes)
How blogging changed my life
The first step was blogging. I tell you, blogging is dangerous. On September 9th, 2007, I started a blog called Gratitude Magic (it’s gone now. Gratitude Magic was mostly about the Law of Attraction, and I wanted to focus more about entrepreneurship, so I started this Yes to Me in February. I didn’t know how to do the transition, so I closed Gratitude Magic. Sorry.)
In mid September last year, I wrote a post titled “What Can I Give to the World?” Here is the whole post:
What I give determines what I get. This is the basic of Law of Attraction. Send out good vibes, and good things echo back to me.
I am thinking about my job. I do well as admin, managing my boss’s calendar, making travel arrangements, processing passport and visa applications, managing corporate identity program, administering corporate credit card programs, supervising housekeepers, and so on. But is this the best I can give?
I feel I have higher values I can give. Currently, I am helping only the people in my company in certain defined ways. If, however, I can inspire more people with my writing, assisting them to have better life, I serve the world better! I feel better by giving more, and surely I receive more from the Universe.
And yes, I have grown to believe my writing is worth to be shared.
When I truly believe “What I give determines what I get,” the opportunity to give becomes a gift. It is like being given the opportunity to invest in a fund that is guaranteed to yield big. So thank you for reading this blog!
Gee, I wasn’t very good at writing back then, huh? I had a good idea, but the writing was so underdeveloped. Anyhow, I had the aspiration to serve bigger audience with my special gifts – or what I thought to be my gifts. Again, my gifts were not well developed yet at the time – I’m still working on them – but I took them seriously. This is important.
You may have great talents, God-given gifts, but until you yourself take them seriously and use them, they are just there.
I still don’t make my living from writing. But writing is an important part of my current business and its marketing. And I do inspire more and more people to have better life – that is the point of my Akashic Record Reading.
How I jumped
Now this is something I can’t recommend to others but I did it myself anyway: I took the leap of faith and quit my corporate job without real plans.
At the same time, I moved to Oregon. I pretty much hibernated during the winter. Sure, I was blogging faithfully, and was trying many things to build my business. But nothing much was happening. There were mornings I woke up and wondered what to do. Occasionally, I thought of looking for temp jobs. Then I thought why the heck I would get another admin job in Oregon – if that was what I wanted to do, I didn’t need to quit. Duh.
I’m going to skip the details of how I started my life coaching business and then my soul reading service because you probably don’t relate to these specific details. Maybe you are interested in starting other kinds of businesses, and that is great – I love diversity. My point here is simple.
Sooner or later, you’ve got to take actions.
Again, I think it is a better idea to prepare better than I did. But there is a point you just have to jump. Naomi Dunford used the analogy of having a baby. You can never be 100% ready, for a baby or for your ittybiz.
Sense of service is empowering.
Looking back, I think my sense of service helped me a lot. If I quit my job thinking, “This job sucks. I hate my job and my boss. There must be a better way to make money.”, I don’t think I could go through the down time during the winter to spring. But I really believed I had something to offer to more people. Of course I still believe this today, even more so than back then.
The reason I blog on this Yes to Me is to encourage those of you who may be at a similar point of life that I was a year ago. Maybe you sense there is more to life. Maybe you want to pursue what you love to do but feel hesitant. Maybe you want to connect with other like-minded people for support and inspiration. You are all welcome.
Or maybe you already have your small business. What have you learned? Share with us!
BTW the tagline of Gratitude Magic was “Uncover Your Magical Power Within”. Now I’m updating the tagline of this blog to “Nurture The Entrepreneurial Spirit Within”. Hmm . . . do you think this is some kind of reincarnation?
I’m happy and proud that I lasted a whole year, and counting. Let me know what you are seeking in life and what you expect to read in this blog.