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The idea of making a living out of doing what you love is something that most of us would aspire to in our working life. The reality is that turning a passion into a profession is a rollercoaster ride of successes and stumbling blocks. The growing range of visa and business startup options introduced by the UAE government is helping to clear one obstacle on the entrepreneurial path. At the same time, these measures are encouraging more people to think about translating their interests into enterprises.
Having made the transition from passion to profession in the publishing business (an industry that was itself nascent at the time) with my company, The Dreamwork Collective, there are countless lessons to share. If you’re considering taking the leap, here are ten tips to guide you:
1. Respond to a market need
It’s great to have a passion you believe in, but to turn it into a business, you need other people to believe in it too. This means exploring the market to make sure there is a need for your proposition, researching your competitors and distinguishing yourself from them, and creating your own niche that will stand out to your potential customers.
2. Don’t quit your day job
A passion project takes time to get off the ground when you’re turning it into a business. Sticking with the day job will inevitably involve working on your enterprise during unconventional hours. Nevertheless, resisting the temptation to go all-in at the beginning will give you the time to build your business to the launch stage, while maintaining a regular income.
Related: In Tune With The Self: Deepak Chopra Believes Entrepreneurs Need To Redefine What Success Means To Them
3. Don’t share your ideas too soon
Your business is your passion, so it’s tempting to share your excitement and discuss your plans with others. Unfortunately, there will always be opponents or naysayers, who will try to distract or discourage your business idea before it gets off the ground. From experience, it can take years of quiet development to build that level of confidence, but when the time comes, you will be well-prepared to tackle any criticism that comes your way.
4. Find a community
Even though it’s your passion, building a business can be an isolating endeavor. Finding a community of like-minded people -whether it be those that share your passion, or fellow entrepreneurs- will provide an outlet to air and resolve your creative or business challenges.
5. Develop the technical knowledge
Building a professional knowledge base around your passion is important when you’re turning it into a business. You’ll need to learn more about the industry and how it operates in your environment. Research your local marketplace, ask questions of the industry where you can, and enrol in courses that will help you develop the knowledge and skills to back up your passion for the business.
6. Work with a mentor
Finding a mentor who can guide you through the process is an invaluable experience. Having an outsider’s insights, with industry knowledge, encourages you to challenge any idealized perspectives about the business you’re embarking on. Someone who has already achieved what you’re setting out to do will be able to help you avoid the pitfalls, as well as prepare you for the stumbling blocks.
7. Consider your financing model
Financing a passion business is one of the most challenging decisions in the process. External investment can boost your capacity in the beginning, but leave you beholden to repayments that you may not be able to afford. Self-financing leaves you in control, without pressure or expectation, but you could find yourself bootstrapping for quite some time if you choose to go at it alone.
Related: Stuck In Over-Analysis? Here’s How You Can Find Your Sweet Spot (And Stay In The Present Moment)
8. Focus on the end consumer
A mistake many of us make when we’re looking to monetize our passion is to focus on the top-level transaction. In publishing, this means fulfilling the needs of buyers and other gatekeepers, rather than addressing the preferences of readers and growing a readership community, which is what ultimately sustains the business.
9. Be prepared for the passion to fade
When you’re building what you love into a business, the challenges and frustrations you encounter along the way will inevitably lead your passion to fade from time to time. Amid the day-to-day struggles, you might sometimes wonder why you made the transition, but every milestone you do achieve carries a multiplied sense of success.
10. Build your business by giving back
When you’ve successfully turned your passion project into a business, you’ll be considering how to build to the next level. With an enterprise born out of enthusiasm, growth can be in purpose, just as much as profit. As publishers, our goal is to create a community, grow readership across the region, and build the capacity of the industry to serve those readers, which also helps boost the business bottom line.
Related: Why Applying Constant Pressure on Yourself Can Significantly Improve Your Productivity and Success
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