Yesterday, I attended the book launch of ‘Start Your Dream Business: Secrets of Successful and Happy Entrepreneurs’. Written by two smart women, Carole Ann Rice and Sarah Wade, it’s full of fascinating insights into what makes us independent types tick. What I particularly love about the real life stories of those featured is that they are so accessible, so real and therefore much easier to relate to than some of the Silicon Valley style ‘how to start up a business’ books you may have read.
The different types of people I meet on and offline fascinate me at our pop-up coworking events. People who are making a business doing things that they’ve enjoy. It’s written in their faces, and expressed in their actions. These are people who so clearly love their work and are energetic about getting others excited about making a living doing things you enjoy too.
There seem to be some key elements that come together to make your dreams into real business. And over time, I’ve picked up on some themes:
1. Solve a problem you’ve got
This is a common theme across successful businesses. Because you don’t need a bunch of consultants to come in and tell you what the problem is, it’s something that you can see everyday. That’s pretty much why I saw the need for KindredHQ. I was fed up of working on my own at home without anyone to share the ups and downs of independent working and bounce ideas off.
If you solve your own problem, you are likely to have alighted on something that pains others too. And if you find a good solution. Bingo.
2. Make your own rhythms
A big theme for us here at KindredHQ, we are advocates of doing things your way. Successful businesses based on the owner’s passion or hobby are frequently not out of a mold and it seems important that you develop the business at your own pace, and in your own way. You really must check out the hugely entertaining Shed Simove who is possibly the most brilliant ideas man I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. He’s constantly reinventing his business, trying out things that have never been done before, from rude toys to his hugely successful blank books.
The moment that you try to be otherwise, you risk compromising your dream business and potentially losing the enjoyment that you got when it was a hobby rather than a business.
3. Your DNA should run through the business
One of the things we worry about when we start up our dream business is that others will do it first or better, or with more money. I’ve come to the conclusion that whilst some of that might be true, no one will do it the same way as I will, and that it is my passion and confidence in the vision I have that makes all the difference.
While many companies have books of mission statements or values and beliefs, many developed by brand experts way after the original entrepreneur has disappeared from a business, you can spot the great businesses that have the passion and authenticity of the original founder baked into the fabric of the company. People often buy into your dream, so making sure they know what you stand for seems to be very powerful.
4. You aren’t alone
Make room for other people to help you, either as founding partners or business confidantes. To be honest, whilst I espouse independence and the freelance life, I am also a great fan of surrounding yourself with people who will spur you on, make you laugh, buy you lunch when you can’t afford it etc etc.
5. Your philosophy is clear
My early career was in branding. I was indoctrinated with the idea that a brand is essentially a pledge of sorts. That beyond the rational needs of the consumer, there is an emotional attachment to some brands which is a very powerful bond.
Essentially, successful dream built businesses are based on a having a philosophy that others will buy into and which guide the company’s actions. It’s actually far easier to achieve than it sounds. It you are being true to yourself, your original idea and your philosophy then you will make decisions based on instinct that prove to be correct in most cases – you know what is right and what isn’t.
6. Bring out your box of tricks
Every job that you’ve ever done, whether you enjoyed it or didn’t will have taught you something. When you start up your passion business, you will need every ounce of ingenuity to bring it to life. It’s surprising and fun having to do a lot of it yourself. You will surprise yourself at the things that you can do for yourself.
7. Keeping an eye on the horizon
Every new business goes through the doldrums occasionally. And it will often feel like you are taking one step forward and three backwards. When you feel like you are wading through treacle, you will know that your passion business is going to be a success if you are always able to see over the horizon.
8. Forever young
One of the most satisfying signs that people are turning passions into businesses is that it’s got nothing to do with age. Despite the media attention on young entrepreneurship, there are just as many people well into their prime that are deciding to take this route, and it’s fantastic to witness.
It shows that you never need to stop believing that you can achieve new things and that you can remain curious and excited about things.
I was totally reenergised to make the next leap forward with the business yesterday and the sheer authenticity of the people who I met. You can look forward to some fascinating Desk of the Week’s over the coming weeks and an introduction to some stories of passion turned to business.