Winston Churchill said, “The pessimist sees difficulty in every opportunity. The optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.”
Over the course of 16 years I’ve heard from thousands of people struggling with so-called career “problems.” These problems invariably involve reasons why they can’t (or won’t) pursue their true passion.
I don’t mean to be dismissive of anyone’s feelings. Clearly to them these things certainly *feel* like problems.
It’s just that when you view the world through the lens of optimism and creative self-employment as I do, you discover that most opportunities come disguised as problems.
This article began as a response to a deluge of FAQ coming in from people interested in “profiting from your passions” career coaching I do. Half way through my response I realized that the same mental roadblocks that keep the people you’re about to meet from pursuing this particular path are really no different than for most of my readers seeking to change course. Fortunately, the solutions are universal as well.
In fact, these problems are no different than those I hear from anyone on the fence about making the leap from having a boss to being their own boss.
The good news is most problems that seem daunting are actually pretty easy to solve.
Easy To Solve Problem #1: “I have too many interests”
Kate has lots of interests – none of which have anything to do with her work as a financial analyst. She describes herself as “addicted to scrapbooking,” spends hours happily researching things online, and before she got stuck with a two hour a day commute, was an avid golfer.
Another one of Kate’s passions is being a cheerleader for following one’s passion. She writes:
“I’m always looking at possibilities and trying to help my friends or co-workers or even total strangers who know they’re on the wrong path.” Adding, “One friend who is a cat lover calls me the answer lady because I’m constantly researching cool things she could do in the cat world”
The idea of people actually paying her to do what she’s been doing all along for free is, in Kate’s words, “too good to be true.”
But Kate is worried. “What if I take your course only to find out it’s not THE passion?”
First, I deal with clients on a weekly basis who have been so beaten down by their 9-to-5 grind that they no longer even know what they love to do.
So loving lots of things is actually not a bad “problem” to have. It means you have options.
Still Kate is afraid that by saying ‘”yes” to one thing, she’ll be closing the door on other options.
Barbara Sher literally wrote the book on so-called “scanners”. It’s called Refuse to Choose. Trying to pick just one interest she says, is like trying to decide which kid you’re going to feed! They’re your passions so you have to find a way to feed them all!
Being an “outside the job box” career coach or teaching scrapbooking or leading golf trips doesn’t need to be the one and only thing Kate does.
She can do any one of these things for 3 hours a week, 10 hours a week, 20, 30… Or in the case of the golf outings, it could be a few times a year.
Not only will life be more satisfying but in the end you may end up making more money. Which leads me to the next “problem.”
Easy to Solve Problem #2: “Will I make enough money?”
Matt has been unemployed for a little over a year. As devastating as it was to lose his job, he’d been miserable in his programmer job for ten years.
“I always wanted to be my own boss,” he tells me. “But I never had the nerve.” Matt is inspired by the idea of helping other burned out programmers find their calling.
His big worry: “Will I make enough money?” Sound familiar?
So often we get hung up trying to come up with that brilliant business idea to replace our salary that we miss the opportunity.
Money is always going to be a concern.
The solution is to understand both the beauty and the functionality of Barbara Winter’s brilliant concept of creating multiple income streams.
When I started out, I had two profit centers – my job at the time (which my friend Suzanne Evan’s encourages aspiring self-bossers to think of as your “business loan”) and one eBook. Now I have at least seven.
Instead of feeling pressured to make $75,000 a year doing one thing, think in terms of doing say three things that each generate $25,000. In Kate’s case, these profit centers might be very different.
For Matt, they could all relate to the same central theme of helping other programmers escape the job box. In addition to having individual client’s he could do group coaching or offer workshops.
He could also research or do interviews with programmers who’ve started cool side businesses and create an information product called “21 Fun and Profitable Ways Recovering Programmers Can Make Money on the Side.”
When you realize that in order to hit your first profit center goal of $25,000 means only needing to bring in a little over $68 a day, it feels more doable. Heck I could probably sell stuff in my basement on eBay and make that.
And remember, you don’t need to do everything all at once. Start one profit center. Then once that’s got some head wind, launch another.
Bonus tip: Unfortunately too many people spend all their time fretting about whether they can make $100,000 that they never end up doing. If that’s you, why not see how much fun you can have making your first $100 and go from there.
Easy To Solve Problem #3: “Is there really enough of a market for this?”
A few years ago I received this from Joanne:
“I work in a large dysfunctional organization. There’s a big shake up going on and lots of bad management decisions. Everyone is miserable — including me. I’m the one everyone comes to for advice about how to get through this mess but I know they aren’t the types to quit their jobs to follow their bliss.”
“I desperately want out but I’m just afraid there’s not enough of a market out there for this kind of work.”
Even though Joanne is worrying specifically about the market for outside the job box career coaching, the same advice applies when considering any potential business.
Let’s review… Everyone around her is miserable… and Joanne doesn’t think there’s a market for people who can help burned out cubicle dwellers get the heck out?!?
Determining market potential is basically a number crunching exercise. Let’s just take Joanne’s own company as an example.
If there are 100,000 employees and only 5 out of every 100 were open to exploring creative ways to make a living without a job – that’s 500 people in her company alone. The same thing is going to be true for employees of the hundreds of thousands of big corporations around the world.
In fact, according to the Kaufmann Foundation, baby boomers are the fastest growing group starting businesses. As one of my trainees just told me, “I want to finish the program for one simple reason; with 10,000 Baby Boomers a day turning age 65 the market is incredible.”
Then there’s the fact that everyone looks to Joanne for advice.
Of course, as Joanne points out, not everyone is eager to jump on the entrepreneurial wagon. In fact, she says many of her co-workers are afraid to even change departments within their same company.
Here again, problem or opportunity?
What that tells me is Joanne has an additional pool of potential clients with a different challenge. After all, not everyone understands how to survive corporate life never mind thrive there. Joanne does. And remember people already look to her for advice.
She could expand her consulting practice to work with people individually or run workshops for people on how to navigate the stress of working in a dysfunctional workplace or going through a big organizational change.
Joanne could also help people who suck at positioning themselves for promotions or moving into more interesting functions within the same company.
You can do this same exercise for just about any passion. Not sure there’s enough of a market to buy your signature cheesecake or pay you to handle their social media?
Ask all your Facebook friends to tell you on a scale of 1-10 how much they love cheesecake or are comfortable in their ability to leverage social media to grow their business. If even 10 percent go with 8 or higher, you’ll know there’s a market.
Keep in mind too you don’t have to serve everyone in the world – just enough to start earning some money.
Wayne Dyer said, “There is no scarcity of opportunity to make a living at what you love; there’s only scarcity of resolve to make it happen.”
How can you turn your problem into an opportunity? And what one thing will you resolve today to realize your own dream of making a living at what you love?
Ironically, the ability to quickly translate problems into opportunities is one of the techniques these students master in the Profiting from Your Passions® Career Coach Training program.
Seats are going quickly for the February training. I’m not sure if I’ll offer this program again this year. To learn more about whether getting paid to brainstorm is right for you, go to http://profitingfromyourpassioncoach.com/