Does this sound like you?
You go to work each day. And each day you do, you watch the clock. Waiting. And waiting. And waiting for the clock to strike 5 p.m.
That’s when you get to go home and devote your time to what you truly love doing. That thing that brings you joy. That thing everyone tells you you’re so fantastic at. That thing you wish you could do every day instead of working.
If this sounds anything like you, don’t despair. You can make a living doing what you love.
Take the following essential steps to transform your passion into a business that frees you from that soul-sucking job, and enables you to live the life of your dreams.
1. Talk yourself out of it
Let’s face facts. The minute you decide you’ll start a business doing what you love, you’ll face naysayers. People will question your choice. They’ll give you all the reasons why you shouldn’t start down this path. They’ll tell you how risky it is, and point out all the people who tried but couldn’t make it work.
So beat them to the punch. Make a list of all the reasons why you shouldn’t start your business. Then for each of those reasons, write down what you will do to overcome that obstacle.
Let’s say the excuse is you don’t have enough time in your schedule. Your solution could be: “Cut out two hours of television a day to work on my business.”
By putting a plan in place to overcome the common objections that arise, you’ll better position yourself to smother those voices of dissent.
Bonus points: Write down all the reasons why you should move forward with your dream (freeing your soul from your current job should be on that list). Refer back to these compelling reasons whenever you need a push to keep going.
And speaking of televisions, the next step explains what to do with yours.
2. Throw your TV out the window
Building a business takes time. And doing it right takes more time. And since all of us have access to only twenty-four hours in a day, time is a scarce resource.
Don’t fret though. All is not lost. I’ll bet you can find tons of extra time in your day if you cut out activities that don’t advance you toward making a living doing what you love.
Television is an easy thing to cut out. Yeah, you may not be able to talk about what happened on the latest episodes of Scandal or Game of Thrones, but you will be able to see tangible progress you’re making toward getting your business off the ground. That’s ten times more satisfying.
TV isn’t your time suck? Perhaps social media is. Whatever it is, take inventory of how you spend your existing time, and find two activities you can either cut out altogether, or significantly reduce. Find at least two hours in your day to free up.
Bonus points: Maximize your time by multi-tasking during activities that don’t require a ton of mental energy. Listen to a podcast while you cook, or do some research while you eat. You’ll find plenty of time when you’re hungry to find it.
3. Say adiós to your friends
As you get laser focused on building your dream business, you’ll need some new friends. People who will be invaluable to helping you reach your goals.
That doesn’t mean you have to ditch your existing friends (unless they’re unsupportive of your goals). You’ll just spend less time with them for a while, as you get cozy with the new additions to your friend list.
Write down at least three folks you need to add to your inner circle. Be sure to include the following three people:
- A mentor, someone who is currently doing what you wish to do. They’ll guide you along the right path, and give you advice on what to do and what not to do.
- A trainer, someone to push you beyond where you think you can go, hold you accountable, and kick your butt into shape when necessary.
- And a peer, someone who is working toward similar goals. They’ll be there for support, venting sessions, and to share tips.
Bonus points: Let your current friends know what you’re working on. Explain that they’ll probably see you a bit less for a little while as you work toward your goal.
Not only will they appreciate the advance warning before you stop showing up at happy hour, but they should also become a source of encouragement for you to move forward.
Besides, not being the social butterfly will help you with the next step.
4. Develop a taste for beans and potatoes
Your new business will need some upfront investment to get started. And once you do launch, arriving at the point where you can fully replace the income from your existing job will take some time.
So save your money. Pinch pennies. Look for areas to cut back, and put extra income aside as seed money for your business. Live below your means.
Create a budget of the necessities you need to pay for on a monthly basis (Starbucks is not a necessity). Then for anything else that doesn’t make the must-have list, cut it out of your budget and save that money.
The extra money will accumulate quickly and fuel your business. It can also help cover your expenses while you’re waiting for the sales to pour in.
Bonus points: Find creative ways to make necessary bills even smaller. You have to eat, right? Search for ways you can still feed yourself well-balanced, healthy meals at a lower price. And since you’ll have to leave your house from time to time, consider carpooling or taking public transportation to get to and from work to reduce transportation costs.
5. Acknowledge your ignorance
To make a living doing what you love, switch your approach from that of a hobbyist, to that of a professional. This will include investing time to study and get insanely good at your craft. You’ll also need to learn as much as you can about the business of your business.
In his best-selling book Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell laid out the case for how to operate in excellence:
“Achievement is talent plus preparation. The problem with this view is that the closer psychologists look at the careers of the gifted, the smaller the role innate talent seems to play and the bigger the role preparation seems to play.”
Your journey to business success will run much more smoothly when you prepare.
So in addition to practicing your craft, study your competitors to see who is most successful and why. Pay attention to why others may not have done well in the past. The more you learn, the better equipped you’ll be to create the ideal business plan.
Bonus points: Commit yourself to working on your craft for at least thirty minutes a day for the next month. That dedicated time of learning how to get even better at what you do will set you apart from others in your field.
It will also put you in a better position to tackle the next step.
6. Get your freak on
Did you know that there are more than 70,000 yoga instructors in North America? If your dream business involved teaching yoga, you would need to identify a unique reason why students should choose you, instead of one of the many other instructors.
The same goes for any business. To get your customers to keep coming back, you must give them a compelling reason to choose you instead of someone else.
As part of your preparation process, make a list of at least three things that make you different from other available options to meet your customers’ needs. Next, choose which of those things matters most to the customers you want to serve.
Bonus points: Once you’ve got that one thing that truly makes you different, assess if you could add another skill to your wheelhouse to make your business even more attractive to your customers.
7. Burn your boats
To transition from your current job to running your dream business, at some point you will have to quit that job. Sure, you could do work on nights and weekends to get your business going, but at some point you will need to make the full-time business leap for you to truly start making a living with it. A living where you don’t have to count your pennies before going to dinner with your friends.
I get it. Holding on to your job is safe. It’s nice knowing a paycheck will come on the first and fifteenth of each month. But if you’re not careful, that comfort will keep you stuck in a job you loathe rather than building the life you love.
So to make sure you don’t get stuck, you’ve got to burn your boats.
Back in the 1500s when Hernan Cortez led his army of men in a conquest of Mexico, he ordered that the boats they arrived in be burned. He did this to prevent anyone from turning back and abandoning the mission.
In essence, he ensured commitment to the battle, by eliminating all opportunity to abort the assignment.
Burn your boats by writing your resignation letter. Set a date for when you will kiss your job goodbye. Maybe that’s six months or a year from now. Just set a date.
To help you feel more comfortable about picking the time, make a list of all the activities and milestones you need to complete before transitioning. Then estimate the time needed to get it all done. Use that as the date for submitting your letter.
Bonus points: After you write the letter, set it to send automatically from your email account on the date you plan to leave. Set it, then forget about it as you get to work on your business. That way, in six months when that lovely email goes out, your boats will be blazing.
Time to stop watching the clock
Your dream of getting paid to do what you love is in reach. You can totally make it your reality, you just need to follow these essential steps.
Then instead of watching the clock all day, you’ll just blissfully stand still for a bit—so you can savor the amazing feelings that come with making a living doing what you love.
Featured photo credit: Man with guitar via gratisography.com