Finding Your Entrepreneurial Direction
Knowing your goals, driven by healthy motivators, will put you on the path to satisfaction
Many of us dream of taking up the entrepreneurial journey. Of casting off the corporate shackles and building our career, based on our goals and desires, and results based on our satisfaction. We want the freedom to create roles in society that we’ll love.
And who wouldn’t want that? Work is an important part of our life. It takes up a large portion of our lives. We typically dedicate a minimum of 40 hours each week to working, plus the additional time spent commuting and thinking about it off hours. If we can’t find at least some satisfaction in it our lives are going to feel real tough. Additionally it’s a way for us to provide value to society, help make the world a better place, and build social connections through our clients and collaborators. Work can be a deeply rewarding experience. We want to maximize the satisfaction and minimize the hassle.
Will it bring us satisfaction, or will we end up just as dissatisfied as we were before…only after having put in far more effort to get there?
Starting an entrepreneurial journey also comes with a lot of uncertainty though. Of course there’s the doubt about whether or not we’ll succeed. There’s also the doubt about whether or not it’s what we really want. Will it bring us satisfaction, or will we end up just as dissatisfied as we were before…only after having put in far more effort to get there?
This is why it’s important to do some reflection before starting the entrepreneurial journey. We have to know what we want to have and what we want to avoid. With that knowledge we can make decisions in our business that drive us towards a satisfying entrepreneurial journey, and away from building our own unfulfilling jobs.
Defining What We Want
What do you want in your career? Think about this from a very high level point of view at first. What brings you satisfaction, and makes it feel like your work is worth doing? Some possible answers could be:
- I like knowing that I’ve solved somebody’s problem and made a difference in their lives,
- I find satisfaction in developing new technologies that will improve the world,
- Mentoring people and advising them on how to pursue their passions gives me a sense of purpose,
- I want boatloads of money so I can pursue my passions outside of work,
- Creating beautiful visions and releasing them to the world gives me a sense of hope for a better society,
- Knowing that people respect and value my opinion makes me feel valued,
- I like having the freedom to do what needs to be done whenever is most convenient for me.
Creating this list gives you a target for what you want your entrepreneurial career to look like from a high level. If you enjoy knowing that people respect and value your opinion, you probably want to be a subject matter expert giving people advice as needed. If you like having a lot of freedom, you probably want to be a solopreneur. If having that much freedom means you’ll feel isolated and never accomplish anything, you probably want to build more structure into your day. If you want to mentor and advise people, maybe you want to be in a coaching role. Or it might mean you want to be a manager in a company instead of an entrepreneur.
It’s also important to identify the field and area that you want to be in. What parts of the world interest you, leaving you wanting to simultaneously learn more and share what you’ve learned with the rest of the world? What parts of life do you simply enjoy, and want to engage with in other ways? Some examples based on my personal interests include:
- Human psychology, needs, and motivations,
- Food, cooking, and different cuisines from around the world,
- Communication and establishing harmony between multiple actors whether human or technological,
- Renewable energy and building energy efficiency,
- Meditation and Buddhism,
- Live comedy.
With these big picture topics in mind you can move on to thinking about the tasks and skills you intend to use to bring value to other people. What activities do you want to engage in each and every day? What can you do that both provides value to your clients and brings you joy? Some possible examples include:
- Computer programming,
- Building consensus between people,
- Managing situations to make sure everything keeps running smoothly,
- Helping people think through their problems,
- Inspiring others,
- Building things,
- Translating between multiple languages,
- Repairing broken machines.
And the list could go on forever.
When you combine your answers to these three questions you should be able to create some potential visions for your dream role. For example if you like having a lot of freedom, are very interested in international foods, and enjoy writing, you could take up a venture based on learning about international cuisines and writing a food blog. It could also grow to include teaching cooking lessons if you also like cooking and talking to people. Your food blog could be monetized through affiliate links based on relationships with other entrepreneurs you meet as you pursue your passion.
It’s also worth noting that you don’t necessarily need to choose one single thing. Maybe you cobble together multiple different entrepreneurial ventures to express all of your passions and create enough income in aggregate. It’s hard to make a living as a food blogger, after all. Maybe you’re also interested in computer repair and you could simultaneously start a home-based computer repair small business. Or a data science small business. Or a professional coaching business. As long as it brings you joy and people will pay you for it, there’s no limit to what you can pursue.
Defining What we Can’t Stand
There are probably also plenty of things in life that you truly want to avoid. For instance, most of us want nothing to do with raw sewage. Or maybe it’s staff meetings that don’t seem to have a purpose. Or you work for a micromanaging boss. Maybe it’s long rush hour commutes. Maybe it’s isolation.
Whatever it is, it’s important to define what you want to avoid in your entrepreneurial career. Then you can make business decisions that move you away from the very same complaints that are driving you to make a change now in the first place. For instance, you could make choices avoiding the previous complaints as follows.
- Raw sewage: Don’t work in the sewer system.
- Staff meetings: Keep your entrepreneurial journey small, and highly focused on productive projects. Minimize overhead needs.
- Micromanaging boss: Be careful about what clients you take on. Search for people who want to provide you a guiding vision and feedback on the result. Avoid clients who insist on making every minor decision in every phase of the project.
- Rush hour commutes: Work from home, or find a small co-working space close to home. Search for options that let you ride a bike a few miles instead of driving many.
- Isolation: Consider finding a co-working space and renting an office rather than working from home. Network to build your list of potential collaborators for any given project. Search for clients who enjoy discussing projects intermittently rather than waiting for the finished product to be delivered.
Knowing what you want to avoid gives you the framework you need to make the right decisions. It gives you the power to make decisions that minimize those things. Awareness of the complaint itself also gives you the ability to find solutions to the underlying problems, as demonstrated above.
One important point when determining what you do/don’t want is that, in order to find satisfaction, your decisions must be based on what Kris Kluver at Aspiring Solopreneur calls healthy motivators. They must be based on what you want for your life, and based on building a life that you like. They can’t be based on destructive motivators such as spite.
The first two sections of this article discussed healthy motivators. What you want in your life, and what you want to avoid in your life. These create targets that point you towards a satisfying life. They’re based on joy, satisfaction, fulfillment. To some extent they’re based on avoiding negative emotions, such as boredom or frustration. But even then they’re also based on the hope of avoiding having those feelings in your life.
Destructive motivators would be things based on negative emotions, such as anger or spite. For instance, if your parents make it clear that they doubt you could ever success as an entrepreneur you may want to prove them wrong. You may make decisions solely around making enough money to survive as an entrepreneur to show your parents. But that doesn’t lead to satisfaction or enjoying your life. It leads to doing whatever it takes to bring in enough money to survive, which probably means sacrificing your happiness repeatedly. And a profitable business that you hate isn’t a business that you’re going to want to continue running. Destructive indeed.
Wrapping It Up
The key to loving your entrepreneurial journey is determining what you’ll love before even starting. That gives you the ability to make decisions along the path that get you more of what you want to have and less of what you want to avoid. A little bit of introspection can bring a lot of satisfaction!