What is your spark? Two ways to tell.

Photo credit: pixabay/unsplash cc0 public domain.

Maybe you are interested in starting a business.

Lots of people have lots of odd ideas about this, and some try to start a business without asking themselves why, or even do so with all the wrong reasons.

Micro-entrepreneurship is about self-liberation, but not necessarily about “easier” life. Rather, it is about creating opportunities for yourself where there seems to be none. This is why many immigrants started their own business since early parts of American history. They were discriminated against by mainstream American society, they often had no relatives in the U.S., and their English skills were not “good enough” for conventional employment.

To put it simply, you cannot succeed as an entrepreneur without first finding your own “sparks” within.

Some people may call these sparks “passions.” But in reality, days come when you wouldn’t feel “passionate,” but sparks still must live on. The sparks must come from the deepest part of your soul, independent of your emotions or desires — or you will soon find yourself burned out and ready to give up as soon as you experience your first slump or depression.

So how can you find your own sparks?

I use two tests.

One: What activity or activities you engage in is/are so fun to you that you forget time, or that you can keep doing it even after a long, exhausting, stressful day at work or school? In other words, these are activities that fuel you and make you feel alive.

Two: What makes you extremely outraged? What do you see or experience in the world that triggers a deep-seated anger from the core of your soul? What can you do to channel this “holy wrath” into a constructive activity?

The first question is about what you do. This is in no way universal. Some people love knitting so much that they can knit for hours and hours, even after spending all night studying for a final exam; in fact, knitting makes them relax and unwind. To some, knitting is tedious and boring.

The second question leads to what problem in the world you are most suited to solve, and what demographics you would like to do business with. Several avid bicyclists in Portland, Oregon were outraged by the prevalence of bicycle thefts. To many low-income and homeless people, bicycle is the only form of affordable transportation, especially after a series of steep public transit fare increases during the Great Recession and diesel price surge. Many working-class people depend on their bikes for commutes. Every time they saw stolen bikes and vandalized and cannibalized bikes, they felt anger and outrage. Many of them personally had experiences with their own bikes being stolen. They were so angry that they made bumper stickers that read “Death to Bike Thieves” and put them on bicycle parking areas all over Portland to get back at the thieves and to warn would-be thieves. Instead of becoming vigilantes with baseball bats, however, they began 529 Garage, a web-based registry of bicycles that can be used by police departments and used bicycle dealers to identify stolen bikes. They are solving the problem of bike thefts and inconvenienced lives, and their demographics are fellow bicyclists.

These two questions are great starters for finding your sparks that can ignite your business.