We’ve all heard the saying at some point: do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life. And while that’s apparently true, it vastly underplays the sheer amount of effort, hard work, and determination required to turn one’s passion into a viable career. Blood, sweat and tears are an inevitable part of the entrepreneur’s journey. And to build your own business, you will have to work hard. It’s more that work is bearable when it’s at the service of something you’re passionate about. After all, if you don’t really believe in what you’re doing, it’s pretty hard to justify the effort it will take to succeed.
As someone who was lucky enough to turn my passion into my career, I am often asked how others can do the same. And while I could write an entire book on the subject (and in fact have), there are a few critical steps required to take an idea and bring it to life that can be summarized more succinctly. Without a clear vision, a comprehensive plan, and a commitment to following the path you’ve set out for yourself, your dream will remain just that. The truth is, there is no secret sauce, no magic recipe, just a lot of hard work. I learned a lot over the 25 years I spent growing my bedroom company into a billion dollar international business, and while an article can’t cover it all in just a few hundred words, the short version is a good place to start.
You have to dream big (and have a track record to match) if you want to win big.
Give yourself the time and space to really dream, without limits, without judgment. Be clear about what you’re truly passionate about (not what your peers are doing, not what your family thinks you should be doing, or even the useless expectations of success we often place on ourselves). If you don’t do it for yourself, if your heart isn’t really in it, you may find yourself at a critical make-or-break moment by doing more breaking than doing. Genuine passion is what will help you find a little more to give even when you think you have nothing left. It’s fuel, and there will be times along the journey when you’ll need it.
Once you know what you want, put your feet first into action, starting with creating a concrete plan. The initial plan doesn’t have to be perfect (trust me, it will change many times), but it should be solid enough to know your North Star and the main steps needed to get there. The good news, though, is that you don’t have to come up with the plan alone. There are tons of great books out there about how successful people brought their ideas to life (I read every one I could get my hands on when I started my company). Like anything worth doing, it takes work, but if you go about it the right way, it shouldn’t feel like a chore. Cultivating the hunger to absorb, learn, and grow as much as possible is how you keep fueling your passion so you can see it through to completion.
Track your project, build a solid foundation, then keep building and improving.
Once you have a concrete plan and know where you want to go, where you need to start, and all the steps in between, it’s time to really get down to business. Make sure you are learning with each new client or project; yes, you did a good job and the customer was happy, but was there a glitch behind the scenes that can be simplified better for next time? See if there’s anywhere you can improve and do it again and again and again, always looking for kinks to work out, improvements to make, and opportunities for growth. Never stop perfecting your process.
When you’re running a business, especially in the beginning, when your determination to see your idea through is the only thing you have to answer to, you have to take ownership and be accountable. Either meet the deadlines you set or reassess why you didn’t and adjust accordingly. Always come back to your plan. Are you reaching your goals on time? If not, why? How can you adjust to get back on track? Have your goals evolved? Is there new information to consider? These are the types of questions that every entrepreneur, budding or seasoned, should be asking themselves on an ongoing basis.
Scale wisely, but never stop looking for ways to grow and evolve.
Stagnation is the death of business. The moment you stop growing, stop looking for ways to be better, is the moment you lose your competitive edge. The world is constantly changing and progressing; if you sit still for too long, you will find your business behind.
It is important to scale your business wisely; overextending is the amount of companies losing ground, but you have to balance that with keeping pace with your industry. The trick is to have achievable goals and realistic plans that are also flexible enough to pivot and evolve as needed. Life will always throw you curves, but if you have a solid foundation and are scaling at a sustainable pace (while continually looking for ways to improve and streamline), you’ll be in a much better position to handle them.
Keep learning, growing and investing in yourself. Differentiate your brand from the competition in ways that are authentic to you and your brand, adding personal touches whenever possible (for example, have a real person answer the phone or include handwritten thank you notes with each delivery). This is absolutely crucial when starting your business and building relationships with customers, clients and partners.
Your customers are an incredible resource, so listen to them! Find out what other services, offerings or resources your customers need, the gaps they need to fill, and the problems they need to solve. Whether your business is one that will evolve into a one-stop shop that handles everything or one that is perfecting a single service or product, listening to your customer base is the way to carve out your own space in your industry; leaning on what only you can do is what will set you apart from your competitors. Listening to what our customers needed was precisely what propelled the bedroom startup I co-founded into a billion-dollar international behemoth.
Take calculated risks and know your limits.
One of the most important aspects of realizing your dream is knowing when and where to take calculated risks. There are no guarantees in life and when starting a company, there is inevitably a great deal of risk. So yes, of course you need to put in the effort, but make sure you don’t fall over the edge in doing so. Without borders, it’s too easy to get lost and lose everything.
Have firm boundaries that you won’t cross, whether it’s how you initially fund your business, the types of partners and clients you work with, the percentage of revenue you return to the business, your hiring processes, or your quality standards . For example, a big part of the vision I had for my company was not to be indebted to anyone else, so we committed to being completely self-funded (no loans, no outside investors, no seed money endowed, and pretty much everything what we did came out). back to the company).
Your integrity is something you should never risk, it is too valuable. Making a dream come true requires working outside of your comfort zone, but that doesn’t mean sacrificing your values. So take the right big risks, while protecting your integrity and honoring your boundaries, no matter what.
The journey is long and arduous, so celebrate your successes along the way.
Making your dream a reality is not for the faint of heart, but those moments of victory, when you are literally living your dream, are priceless. There is nothing like building something from nothing but an idea. Seeing everything you’ve worked so hard for materialize and make a difference in people’s lives, all thanks to your determination and courage, is incredibly rewarding. It was possible for me, and I know it is for you too. Now go dream and make it come true. You deserve to live the life of your dreams. We all do it.
As a way to mention the company.
At Ikaroa, we understand that many young people are passionate about making an impact on the world and pursuing their fully realized purpose. We also understand, however, that many don’t know where to start. That’s why we believe that turning passion into purpose is key in achieving the career, or even the life, you want. Whether you’re just out of school, or already have a job, here are a few tips on how to fulfill your purpose:
Start small. The biggest hurdle when it comes to embracing your passion and purpose is figuring out how to take the first step. One effective way is to break it down into smaller, more manageable goals. Once you can identify and accomplish these smaller tasks, the career or life you envisioned no longer seems so far away.
Network. Making valuable connections is an important part of finding purpose. Connect with like-minded people and exchange advice and opportunities. Not only may these contacts become invaluable friends and colleagues, they could even become mentors and help you to stay focused and motivated. Your network could become a virtual support system to guide you as you turn your passion into purpose.
Establish financial stability. Sometimes, having money helps to make our dreams come true. Consider how you can create financial freedom for yourself, for instance through a stable job, education, or business venture. Even if at first it’s something outside of your preferred field, remember that having financial security can make pursuing true purpose much easier.
Believe. Anything is possible, and at Ikaroa we want you to remember that. Believe in yourself and remind yourself that what you are doing is meaningful and important, even if it’s small. Keeping that in mind can be the push needed to reach ultimate success.
Turning passion into purpose doesn’t have to be daunting, and at Ikaroa we want to help make that journey as easy and meaningful as possible. With these tips and a little dedication, you can make your dreams come true.