99.9% of my clients are building businesses around what they love to do.
The other .1% are planning on doing the same.
You’d think that building a business around doing what you love would be a no-brainer.
You’ve heard this before:
“Do what you love and the money will follow.”
“Create a business and life you love.”
“Do what you love. Make Money. Save the World (just a little bit).”
What do these tag lines and titles have in common?
The premise that doing what you love and making a living is possible.
But there’s more to this ‘do what you love’ story.
If I just loved words, I’d be happy to write about anything. Foreign policy. Football. Financial Reports. When actually, I’m extremely picky about my prose.
Flashback: At 21 years old I was on my way to being a journalist…. Because – you guessed it – I love to write. This dream got shaken up, when a photographer I met in Vietnam asked me a very simple question:
“What do you like to write about?”
I burst into tears. (How can you not sound like a self-indulgent loser when the answer is: ummm, myself.)
What I didn’t know at the time was that my preference for writing about personal experiences was not actually self-serving — it just didn’t have a purpose yet. Fast-forward ten years and my ability to write accurately about the inner experience (my genius zone) is perfect for content marketing. By tuning into and empathizing with emotional experiences, my words now bridge the gap between the known and unknown, the current and the possible, the misunderstood and the fully illuminated.
But that still only explains the how and the what. Not the who and the why.
Doing what you love doesn’t serve anybody, until you know who it is you serve and why you’ve chosen to help them.
What you love, whether it be designing, drawing, writing, singing, guiding, speaking, healing, counseling, acting, coding, dancing, jumping, skiing, is a hobby until it serves to inspire others or makes a difference.
The trap of doing what you love is that, ironically, you can focus too much on what it is that you love, and lose focus on who you are helping.
Another little trap of building a business doing what you love, is that because you love it you are sometimes less discerning. If you’re a writer, you’ll write for anybody or anything, because you love writing. If you’re a designer you’ll offer your design skills to whoever comes along.
This is certainly how I saw it when I started out. Well, I love to write so I’ll write for whoever needs me, right? But truthfully, that way of thinking will never give you the juice to keep going. At best you’ll feel bored. At worst you’ll turn something you love into something you hate.
Yet another trap (and there are many) that you’ll fall into when you do what you love as a business is that you’ll undercharge or undervalue your work because surely if you enjoy what you do that’s payment in itself…right?
To love what you do isn’t enough. To build a sustainable business around that gift or craft (one that keeps you inspired as well as fed), you need to decide two things:
Who am I doing this for?
Let’s try this together.
Who do you serve?
For too long I’d incorrectly assumed that who I serve are people who can’t do what I do. Big mistake. Most of my clients are ridiculously articulate; many are writers themselves. So don’t fall into thinking that the people you serve can’t do what you do. You need to scratch beyond the surface.
My people are consciousness-raisers, spiritual messengers, healers and teachers. Whether that’s what they call themselves on their business cards or not, it’s clear that my people are serving the world through personal development.
What gets in the way?
If you are to make a difference, think about what people are *really* getting from you through the work you love so much. Dig deep, ask questions and be curious about the true value.
For example, a client, herself a beautiful writer, shared that through working with me she finally saw “her story” and understood that she did have one.
When I was only focussing on what I do (writing), without thinking about the ‘who for?’ and ‘why?’ I could not see the true value of what I do.
Now that I know who I serve and why it matters, I see that what I help my people overcome is actually:
- A lack of clarity around their messages.
- Feeling too close to the work to see opportunities and possibilities.
- Shame or fear about letting their deeper, vulnerable side out (in public!).
- Worry and anxiety about being misunderstood or punished.
- Feeling overwhelmed by their own personal stories.
- Or feeling like there’s no particular ‘story’ to share.
- Uncertainty around expressing themselves in a promotional way without ‘selling out.’
When you know your people, “doing what you love” is for them and therefore a generous expression of your gifts.
If you’ve chosen to do what you love for a particular group of people, why does it matter?
Speaking for myself….
Because I believe having a voice and sharing your story is important.
Because collectively we’ve been sold stories that keep our souls contained and under control.
I believe new stories need to be written; ones that speak for the feminine (as opposed to female) side of nature, without demeaning the masculine.
I believe we need stories that value both body and spirit (instead of crucifying one and worshipping the other).
Because I believe business can be a form of personal growth as well as an economic and creative liberation.
Ok, so as you can see…. I’ve got more than one why. But why should I choose?
Ultimately, I see the world through a narrative lens and I want my children to know that they are the authors of their future.
I believe we collectively write the world into existence, so I’ll direct my Word Love into spreading ideas and messages that are empowering, uplifting, revolutionary or delightfully reassuring. Let’s express views, values and visions that evolve humanity.
You know where you can start? Clarify who you serve and why. Share it in the comments if you’re feeling extra brave. I’ll love to cheer you on.
And if you have more than one why: just know that you are doing what you love for the right reason.