Let your passions guide you
By Derek Gehl
If you’ve been reading this Blog for a while, you know that one of the central tenets of the “IMC philosophy” is this:
If you’re thinking about starting an online business, you should base that business on your own personal skills or interests.
In my experience, people who build their business around their own personal passions or experience almost always tend to achieve more success FASTER than people who don’t.
It makes sense when you think about it…
If you’re not passionate about what you’re doing, you simply won’t find it as enjoyable — and you’ll be less likely to succeed.
On the other hand, people who follow their passions are the ones who are most motivated to stick with their businesses and do the work necessary to grow and improve them.
That being said, I sometimes get eMails from subscribers who tell me, “But I don’t HAVE any unique skills or interests!”
To them I say, “You’re not looking hard enough!”
Unique skills and interests can come in a variety of surprising forms… For example, knowing how to pass the exam required to become a firefighter is a skill on which you could base a business. So is quilting, or collecting model trains, or kicking a bad habit like smoking or biting your nails.
Even knowing how to deal with a pushy mother-in-law is a skill you could turn into a successful online business!
(Don’t worry mom — I’m not talking about you. 😉
If you honestly believe you have no valuable skills or knowledge, you’re selling yourself short. I’m certain that absolutely every single person on the PLANET has some kind of specialized knowledge or experience that could become the foundation of a successful online business.
However, if you find it difficult to pinpoint exactly what that specialized knowledge or experience is, don’t worry! You’re certainly not alone. A lot of people have trouble figuring out what makes them “tick.”
You simply need to think about your life experiences.
Create a list of all the jobs you’ve ever had… all the hobbies you’ve ever pursued… all the volunteer work you’ve ever done… all the times you’ve helped someone and felt really good about it… all the challenging situations you’ve had to overcome in your life.
Then go through that list and pinpoint where your particular areas of skills and interest lie.
Sound difficult? Don’t worry, I’m going to make it easy by giving you…
“Derek Gehl’s ‘Special Skill Finder’ Questionnaire!”
The following questions are designed to get you thinking about what really matters to YOU. Be sure to print this list up and write your answers down — you’re going to want to refer to them later.
1. Do you play any sports?
2. If you had a million dollars and a week’s worth of free time, what would you do? List the first activities that come to mind.
3. What websites do you visit when you’re just “surfing around” online? What topics do these cover?
4. Have you ever won a trophy or award? What for?
5. Have you ever been recognized for a contribution of services? What did you do?
6. Do you have pets? What kinds?
7. Do you have kids? What do you like best about being a parent? What do you find most challenging?
8. Do you have any specialized education? Have you ever taken a class in a subject like pottery or sailing? Do you have any kind of academic continued education?
9. Have you ever volunteered anywhere? What did you learn through this experience?
10. Have you ever gone through a particularly challenging experience, and come out of it stronger than ever? What was that challenge, and what did you do to overcome it?
11. What lifetime accomplishment are you most proud of? What did you learn from this experience?
12. Do you have firsthand knowledge of any medical illnesses or issues? If so, which ones?
13. Do you collect anything? If so, what?
14. What television shows do you enjoy? What kind of music do you listen to? Do you ever attend theater events or other events related to “the Arts”?
15. Is there anything you’ve always really wanted to do or learn more about, but just haven’t had the time?
Once you have finished, go over your answers to these 15 questions, paying special attention to the ones that got the strongest positive response from you. These are the areas that are most likely to lead you to the ideal market you should target with your business.
Now narrow your list down to five topics you’re truly passionate about. These topics are going to be the starting point of your research.
Note that I said the STARTING point! This stage is just the beginning… It’s not enough to recognize that you’re passionate about golf, and then just assume that you’re going to build a business on the subject of “golf.”
(That wouldn’t be a good idea… Plug the word “golf” into Google and you get 184 MILLION results — that’s some crazy stiff competition you’d be facing!)
BUT — If you dig down deep into a general topic like “golf,” you may find an untapped niche market of people who are desperately searching for a product that’s not readily available online.
Maybe it’s discount golf shoes for men who have size 14+ feet. Or maybe it’s beginner golf videos for children. Who knows? That’s what the next stage of your business building research will reveal.
That next stage is when you use a keyword research tool like Wordtracker to find out what people are searching for online, related to the topics you’ve chosen.
To your success,