The voice for little voices. A podcast for solopreneurs to make you stop dithering and start making it happen. A weekly podcast for solopreneurs, jam packed with support and strategy to help you beat the business blues.
Today we are going to talk about how to focus when you are multi passionate. For those of you who haven’t heard that term before it basically means that you like a lot of things and your interested in all kinds of topics and projects and you simply cant focus on one single thing.
I don’t know if you have read a book by Malcolm Gladwell called “Outliers.” He argues that 10,000 hours is the key number of hours that someone needs to spend working on something in order to become super successful. Forget about that number because some people don’t agree with him. Some people may say its 20,000 hours. It doesn’t matter about the number the sentiment is right. If you focus your efforts on one thing and you really work hard on that one thing then you are more likely to be successful at it.
However, it’s not always that simple. The idea for some people of dedicating your time to one thing and going in one single direction seems a bit boring and is simply something they don’t feel comfortable doing. So what should you do if you’ve got lots of interest and ideas? There are so many things you could be doing. What should you do then? Should you focus on one thing and maybe put some things to one side or is there a way of combining your interest?
I know what its like to be in this situation. A couple of years ago I found myself without a business. I had closed down my PR agency. It was an unexpected decision caused by I think I’ll tell you that story in another episode actually. There were some interesting circumstances surrounding the demise. So suddenly I found myself without a business and without a plan. I was wondering what I was going to do next and I was considering my options.
One thing I was sure about was when I set up my next business it was going to be something that I really enjoyed. The first thing I did was launch a website for fans of French Cinema. How random is that? But I have always loved French films and I had studied French at University. I really fancied myself as an intellectual film critic.
But you know what; a few months down the line the thought of watching another bloody French film made me role my eyes. I was completely over it. The passion was dead for me which is ironic because it is the most passionate culture in the world, but it was a mistake to turn that hobby into a business. That passion should have stayed a passion and was not destined to become my business.
My first suggestion for a multi passionate entrepreneur is to ask yourself “All though I love this do I want to do it everyday?” If you don’t think your passion extends to something you want to do every day it is okay for that passion to remain a hobby.
I think well rounded interesting humans have a range of interests and not every single one of those interests needs to be turned into a business. If you have a lot of passion and interest how do you go about choosing?
I am not going to tell you to follow your heart because this is a business decision. When I work with clients who are multi passionate we work through the options in a systematic fashion and we measure them against a series of criteria.
I am not a fan of boring spreadsheets and charts so it is possible to do this analysis doing some highly sophisticated techniques involving smiley faces and sad faces or hearts. I think it is perfectly acceptable to rate this criteria whichever way you like.
I’ve made you a little worksheet to help you rate your ideas. Click here to download your copy.
The key is when you are accessing a business idea you’ve thought about it from a business perspective side. These are the things to consider.
- How big is the market opportunity?
- How much money could you actually make?
- How serious is the pain your people are experiencing?
- How easy are your people to reach?
- How much do you love this kind of work?
- How well established or expert are you in this field.
I suggest that you answer each of those questions for each business possibility. When you look at them and start rating them you will start to see which ones have the biggest potential. You will also see which ones should be kept as a hobby.
COMBINE YOUR PASSIONS
Another method to consider is a bit like basket weaving. If you’ve got more than one business of passion it may be possible to combine things. Maybe there is a way of bringing your interests together.
When I used to work in innovation that was one of the techniques we used where we would take 2 random links and force them together and see what emerged was a good idea.
But what if the ideas just keep coming? You need some kind of strategy to keep them under control. I so relate to this. Ideas are my thing. I used to get paid to have ideas for big companies. My mum is actually an inventor. I think I have inherited some of that stuff!
Just to give you and idea every time I am in the shower or on a train ride or going to sleep ideas are popping into my head. Often it is useful if I am being paid to have ideas. But it is an infliction in some ways. It is quite exhausting so I used to leap into action whenever I had a new idea. It was knackering and I was all over the place. You end up looking like a headless chicken.
Now I park my ideas and this was another technique I learned. Essentially what you’re doing is writing your ideas down in a safe place for a rainy day. If I ever need to come back to them then I know where they are and they are off my chest.
Don’t underestimate how exhausting it is having these ideas floating around in your head. Not only is it taking up part of your brain power but they cloud your judgement so next time you are thinking of a solution or you’re focusing on growing your business that little idea will just be wiggling around in your brain and it influences what you are doing and its not always the best so I think parking those ideas where they are safe you can get on with growing your business.
TEST YOUR IDEAS
The next thing I suggest that you do is actually test your idea. We can now assume that the ideas you selected theoretically we know that there is an opportunity in the market. We know that there is money to be made. That there is some kind of problem that needs resolving and the people that need you are easy enough to reach and that there is enough of them.
You know you love doing this kind of work and you also know that you have some kind of credentials in this field. So we have whittled down those options and next it is actually up to you to put your ideas out there. I would recommend doing something called and MVP (Minimal Viable Product). I really like using this method because it means you don’t have to commit 100% until you are sure something is going to work. So you can test 2 or 3 options and put them out there to see what works without having to invest to much time or money or heartache into these ideas.
Things you could do to test your idea might be running a webinar on the topic, setting up a waiting list to start gathering people who are interested. You could also run some Facebook ads and access peoples reaction to the ads. You don’t have build anything or sell anything right away but you can start to see which one is going to have the most success.
You could have a very rough prototype for example to start seeing what people think. I think that is a great way to see which one will actually work cause you know in your heart which one you want to work. If you chose one of the 3 to pursue it doesn’t mean the other 2 are put to bed forever it just means you park them and come back to them at a later date.
GIVE IT 100%
When you have chosen the one you want to pursue I want you to give it 100%. No going back on your decisions for at least 6 months. Give it a proper go and the ideas you have waiting should you need them but because you have done the proper assessment and sent out your MVP you should have a much higher rate of success and you should be able to relax knowing that your other ideas are not going anywhere.
ONE LAST OPTION
If all of this sounds great in theory but you still cant focus and you realize you just don’t want to what should you do then? I have actually gone down the route of being a consultant which means I never really need to focus on one thing. It suits me brilliantly because I get to work with clients in their businesses. I work with people for a few months at a time. I am not so entrenched in their business I get to have a birds eye view and get to see what’s going on from the outside. I am able to see what they need to grow their business.
It really gives me a lot of satisfaction and I can get paid to have many ideas because people want to see what I have to say and I get to use my ideas to help other people.
If you feel you cant focus on one thing and you’ve got all these ideas the perhaps a consulting model would be for you. I hope these ideas and suggestions have been useful and there is plenty food for thought. Head over to my Facebook group where you can chat to me and I can give you a hand.
GET SOME HELP!
If you are really struggling to focus and you feel it would be very helpful to have someone to be accountable to then check out the Actionista Academy. Hopefully if you are having problems making decisions I can help you do that.