I’ve encouraged clients who are interested in starting or buying a business to pursue something they are passionate about. I’m not alone in giving this advice. Hundreds of business books are written on the topic alone. But it occurs to me that we’ve forgotten to advise clients to also pursue something they EXCEL at. I heard a recent example about playing tennis. The guy telling the story shared that he loved to play tennis. You might even call him passionate about tennis. So was the tennis pro that was working with him. Difference is, only one of them is really good and making money at their passion.

What are your natural God-given talents that you’ve enhanced through education, experience and by building skills? Though it is geared towards being an employee for the most part, Marcus Buckingham’s Now, Discover Your Strengths can help you discern what those exact talents are. The reality is we aren’t always good at what we are passionate about (think karaoke singers!) and we aren’t always passionate about what we do well. The trick is to find a combination of both, and then to find the underserved market that you can uniquely provide value to.

While it might be tempting to think you can bring your skill set up over time, you are already behind the 8 ball if you choose a business that you can’t thrive at on day one. Small businesses struggle enough in the early days without dealing with a significant learning curve. And if you don’t have the interest or excitement, well, nothing can make miserable days doing something you hate feel much better…not even money.


by Steven Schlagel