Turn Your Passion Into Profit!

By all accounts I should have been happy. I was an Ivy League graduate with an engineering degree, earning a decent salary and with a bright future. The truth was, however, I hated my life. I didn't like my job, didn't have the time to do the things I really enjoyed. And, with all the debt I was in, I was living from paycheck to paycheck.

Sound familiar? Well, you're not alone. There are millions of individuals out there who feel the same frustration. Many feel there must be more to life than working for someone else to make money to pay bills. Even those who already work for themselves are feeling the urge to do something more fulfilling. In making career choices, therefore, instead of "Where's the money?" people are asking, "Where's the passion?" What do I really love to do?" "Do I have to choose between making money and pursuing my passion? Can I do both, and make money doing what I love?" The answer, I've learned, is an emphatic YES YOU CAN!

After 7 years of corporate servitude, I finally jumped out on my own to pursue my own passion for writing and sharing information. Since then, I've devoted my life to creating, cultivating and coaching other "Passion Seekers"-- those unique entrepreneurs who have discovered their passions in life and turned it into profitable businesses. If you"ve ever thought of doing the same, here is a quick guide, along with advice from real-life success stories, to help you do the same, so you can not only survive, but thrive doing what you love and turn your passion into profit!

It's about you. Discover your passion!
The first step in turning a passion into profit is to decide exactly what your passion is. What do you like to do? What is it that got you excited as a child? What activity gives you the greatest feeling of importance, satisfaction and purpose? What do you want to be remembered for? If money was no longer an issue in your life, what would you rather be doing every day? Still not sure? Then perhaps you should listen closely to what people say about you. As a Point of Purchase Advertising executive visiting her clients, Tracee McAfee-Gates, 36, would often hear, "You're always so trendy and fashionable. I wish you could help us find neat items for our catalog." Or, "I wish you could help me find unique items to use as a 'gift with purchase' incentive." Tracee saw a need, and today, her Canton, Ohio-based Diversified Concepts Marketing, Inc., is a 9 million dollar enterprise seeking out new and unique products for corporate and retail clients. It was a natural fit! Why, because Tracee's passion was and continues to be....shopping! And now she gets to do it every day!

According to Gordon Mahwhinney, International President of Young Entrepreneurs Organization (www.yeo.org), "The best companies in the world are created by people who are passionate and excited about what they are building. These entrepreneurs are most often creating and growing companies in the fields they know and care the most about!" [See sidebar entitled Discover Your Passion for more questions]

It's about you. Discover yourself. The next step in turning passion into profit is to get a clear mental picture of what your success looks like. The answers to these questions will determine how you structure your business. What does your ideal day look like? Do you see yourself interacting with people? Then you might consider setting up a service company or retail outlet. Do you like to work alone? Then perhaps a home-based business is the way to go. Do you envision yourself overseeing a team of workers? Then a factory or office employing hundreds might be in your future. Do you see yourself on a beach on a cell phone while you enjoy the freedom your company affords you? Then you might decide to make your business a strictly online venture. Everyone"s picture of success is different, and your passion business will reflect that.

It's also very important to know what sort of feedback you crave. Is it important for you to be recognized in a public way, or will you be just as fulfilled staying behind the scenes? Remember, your business should meet your needs as well as your customers'. So, the more you know about what makes you happy, the more successful you'll be at creating a fulfilling business experience. Personality tests like the Kiersey Temperament Sorter (www.kiersey.com) and the Passion Personality Profile (www.passionprofit.com) can help you discover more about you.

The possibilities are endless. Find the real value. So you've discovered you have a passion for food. How do you decide what type of business to launch? Do you start your own restaurant? Do you create a secret recipe that you license to other restaurants? Over the years, I've discovered that every passion has an inherent value that just about guarantees you can make money at it. So, the question isn't "will it sell?", but "how can I isolate the best expression of the inherent value of my passion?" The answer lies in what I call "The Magic Questions," based on research into what people will pay for. Among the questions to ask are, "Is there information that people want to know about my passion? Can I write a book, produce a video, audio cassette, website, lecture, or workshop to share what I know about my passion?" "Is there a feature movie, situation comedy, documentary or other performance hiding in my passion?" "Can my passion guide, teach or direct others to achieve goals they desire? Is my passion a food that can be sold? Or perhaps, like Gregg Levin, your passion can solve a unique problem. Levin, 34, always had a quirky passion for getting just the right curve in his baseball cap. His obsession sparked the idea for his Perfect Curve Cap Curver. This unique invention (the original prototype was a pencil, a piece of paper, playdoh" and a rubber band) went on to sell 2.5 million units and was the first product of Perfect Curve, Inc. (www.perfectcurve.com), his now 3-year-old company, which is on target to exceed 2 million in sales in 2002! It's a proven Law of Passion Dynamics that "whatever has value for you, will automatically have value for others, too!"

Once you launch your passion business, there are 7 real challenges you may encounter in the journey from passion to profit.

1. There is no template. Find your own formula.
If your business idea falls neatly within traditional business concepts, say ice-cream store, interior design firm, etc., you can find guides or locate training to help you succeed. However, when you"re the lone player on an empty field, you may have to be your own coach! "I had to learn how to learn, quickly!" says Mark Reed, 35, of Prism Designs. His passion for building and flying innovative two-line sport kites so energized the kiting industry that his company quickly became the world"s leading manufacturer in the fast-growing sport. Today, Prism Designs Inc. (www.prismkites.com) is a 1.3 million dollar company with a continuing mission: to share with the world its passion for flight. Reed had no one to show him what to do. But, by calling on his own diverse background, including skills he learned and honed as a musician, he was able to develop his own formula. "Often, you'll find that everything you've been doing in life has been preparing you with the skills you'll need to turn your passion into profit.

2. Money's never the issue. Learn to think more creatively.
Every business needs cash. But, if you think that the lack of money is preventing you from moving forward, then you're simply not thinking creatively enough. Value is what you need. "They paid me in furniture!" recalls Eric Gellerman, 35, co-founder of The Wooden Duck (www.thewoodenduck.com). When Eric and his partner Amy Ferber needed recycled wood to create the furniture to pursue his environmental passion, he negotiated with the partners from a previous furniture venture to pay him his share of ownership in furniture rather than money. He adds, "I was then able to mark that up and turn it into money." The Wooden Duck is now the largest retailer/manufacturer of furniture from recycled wood in northern California.

Bartering and factoring are two other ways to trade value for what you need. Say, for example, that as a result of your promotional efforts, a large chain contacts you to order 10,000 units of your new product. With a purchase order in hand, you can approach a "factor", who will then give you up front cash (less a fee) for your invoice. There are always ways to make things happen even if your finances are tight. Contact your local Small business Administration for more leads. For creative ideas, brainstorm on the following two questions: 1. What specific things would I do if I had the money I needed? And then, 2. What specific ways can get them done anyway?

3. You're going against the grain. Make it easy for people to accept.
When any new idea is introduced, people's habits and perceptions often stand in the way of widespread acceptance. When presented with Levin's Cap Curver, (think shoe-tree for baseball caps), many people would say, "Why do I need that? I can just curve my cap visor with my hands!" To counter this objection, Levin gave away literally thousands of samples of the Cap Curver in order to get people to use it. "If the product is good, people will accept it and speak well about it," he adds. In Levin"s case, it was, and they did!

Anything you can do--from giving away samples, to providing easy-to-assemble store displays, to rewarding people for spreading the word--will help overcome the inertia associated with every new idea. Seth Godin"s free e-book Unleashing The Idea Virus (www.ideavirus.com ) can give you a wealth of tools and ideas for creating a powerful word-of-mouth campaign!

4. Success may be a LONG, LONG journey. Commit now.
Don't do it for the money. Not because there's no money to be made, but because the journey getting there may require patience and commitment. If your experience mimics that of many passion seekers, you might find yourself foregoing your own salary while you grow your business. It helps, therefore, to believe in what you're selling and to be really committed.

Eric Gellerman remembers the exact moment in the growth of The Wooden Duck that he realized he was in it for the long haul. "There was one time when, in order to make payroll, I had to go to several different banks to take out cash advances on all my credit cards," he explains. But, rather than it being a low moment in my life, I remember feeling great! I remember thinking that if I was willing to max out all 6 of my credit cards in order to pay people who worked for me, even though I hadn't paid myself for a few years, then I truly was in the right business, because it meant I wasn't going to give up. I remember thinking, 'Wow I must really love what I do!' "

5. You'll hear more "NOs" than most. Listen to your intuition.
It's challenging enough starting any business. Passion seekers, though, are often cursed with a unique vision that makes them even less understood than other entrepreneurs. Don't be surprised, therefore, if the world is slow to accept your vision of the future, and tells you "No". It's at those moments when your intuition, your unique insight into the way things will be that will carry you through. So learn to listen to and trust that still small voice within.

6. There will be competition. Always go for the Wow!
"Your dreams come true much quicker," according to The Art of Wow (www.artofwow.com; 14.95), "when you make the world go wow." In business, one sure way to do that is to find out what is being offered by your competitors, and do it better than the customer, client, or industry ever expected. Take a tip from Tracee McAfee-Gates, shopper extraordinaire.

"Sure, there are others making presentations of unique items to clients," she explains, "But we make our presentations virtual media events, and create an experience that appeals to all the senses!" No one expects it, and it puts some excitement in their otherwise hum-drum days!" McAfee-Gates is so good at "going for the wow" in her passion for shopping, in fact, that others have used her closely guarded ideas to launch competing businesses.

7. You'll need fuel. Find the feeling.
How do you keep going when the rent is overdue, and the creditors are calling, and the phones are about to be turned off? Ask Rebecca Litwin, 40, president of Down Etc., LLC, who turned a childhood passion for "pillows and life's finer fabrics" into a 3 million dollar business. Rebecca suggests to "close your eyes and remember the first time that you wanted something really bad. Focus on the feeling of what it was like to receive something that you really wanted. If the memory of that pleasure is still alive within you, then you've found the fuel for turning your passion into profit! Never let it go!"

According to Verne Harnish, author of Mastering the Rockefeller Habits (www.gazelles.com ; $24.95), and CEO of Gazelles, Inc., an executive development firm for fast growth companies, "Only 4% of all companies ever make it past the million per year revenue mark. (And of those, only 10% ever get around the ten million mark or larger!) So what's the secret? Here are 3 keys from Passion Seekers who've risen to the tops of their games and turned their passions into profit with sales of over 1 million dollars!

1. You won't know everything. Find a mentor.
While many Passion Seekers tend to be mavericks blazing a trial-and-error trail towards the goal of business success, the majority of the million-dollar-plus entrepreneurs interviewed all have one thing in common: a mentor they meet with regularly to help guide them. Your mentor need not be an expert in a particular field or even share your passion. But, he or she should know the business of business.

"We and our mentor meet for two hours twice a month to go over sales, books, taxes, real estate and even personal stuff too, to make sure we have balance in our lives," says environmental passion seeker Eric Gellerman. "He [our mentor] also provides a much-needed balance between my headstrong nature and my partner Amy's more cautious personality. We wouldn"t be where we are today without his guidance." So, how do you find such a mentor? Join organizations and put the word out to your peers that you're in search of a one. Study your niche to identify the "Bill Gates" of your industry and simply request his/her assistance. "You'd be surprise how many of the really successful will gladly give of their time to help you," as McAfee-Gates says, "just for karma points!"

2. Things change. Be flexible. Even though Gregg Levin's Perfect Curve Cap Curver was a stunning success, the industry soon changed. Baseball cap makers soon started making their cap visors with the curves already built in. This would have spelled doom for many young companies, but Levin had a flexible vision. He was constantly scanning the industry for new opportunities and also creating new products. In fact, it was his company's fourth product--a cap rack--that helped him make the move to millionaire, and that now accounts for a significant portion of annual sales.

3. You may feel isolated. Walk with Giants.
The third secret all passion seekers agree upon is having a network of similar-minded individuals to associate with. I call such mentors and associates "giants."

Giants are people who by virtue of their stature, step wider, see more and reach farther, and encourage you to do the same. Having a network of giants can help quell that sense of isolation and loneliness that haunts many entrepreneurs, especially passion seekers. Join organizations, attend meetings, and sign up to online networks to surround yourself with others like you!

You work a job. But you live a passion!
These real-life success stories are shining examples of what's possible for anyone seeking to turn a passion into profit. The successful passion business is one that capitalizes on your strengths, and assets, feeds the feeling you seek, gives you the feedback you crave, and meets the needs and wants of your target audience at the same time. It will also test your commitment, provide unlimited opportunities for personal growth, and help you along the path to discover what you've been put here to do. When you can create that synergy of passion, people and purpose, the rewards are unlimited!

Passion seekers get to interact every day with others who share their passion. They feel motivated to get up in the morning. They feel they"re really doing something that"s making a difference. And most of all, their lives cease to be delineated by arbitrary lines of "week and weekend", "work and play", and they"re no longer conflicted about the choice between passion and profit. They've proven they can have both!

As shopaholic Tracee McAfee-Gates says, "You know you're in a perfect state of being when the line between your work time, your play time, your office time and vacation time all harmoniously blend together into a state of bliss that makes you feel great! And that"s what my business (read: passion) has done for me!" Remember: It's only work if you don't enjoy what you do!

Walt F.J. Goodridge (walt@passionprofit.com) is author of 12 books including Turn Your Passion Into Profit: Information, Inspiration and Ideas to Help You Make Money Doing What You Love. Join the Passion Seekers Network, discover your Passion Personality, and continue your passion to profit journey at www.PassionProfit.com. --------End Article -----------------


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