I hope this series of posts aren’t starting to feel like The Lord of the Rings movies… good, in a never-ending sort of way…

We’ve discussed how to tell if your life is headed in the wrong direction and how to train your mind to believe there is something better out there. Then we talked about how to figure out your passion.

So now that you’ve got your passion, whatever it is, how do you make a business out of it?

I think the first thing to do is to try to make a job out of your hobby. Is anyone willing to pay money to receive the good or service that you propose to market?  Google to see if other people are being paid to do what you want to do.  This might be the stage where you experience discomfort.  Not every hobby is the stuff of successful business. I once volunteered with an organization that advised entrepreneurs.  One women came to us because she wanted to start a business selling cats.  Fancy cats? No, just regular cats.  Like, the ones that people give away for free because they have too many cats.

Her love of cats probably needed to be channeled into another direction.

Once you find some way to get paid doing what you love (even if it’s not a lot of money) learn all you can about the industry. Where are the jobs at?  What is life like in that sort of position?  Would you do better hanging out your own shingle? Can you develop your hobby/business while paying your bills?  If not, you may need to keep your “day job” while you develop your skills and business plan.

One thing that was very important to me in trying a new career path was not incurring any more debt to start a business. I briefly thought about going back to school (loans loans loans loans) or maybe even getting a certificate in a health-related field before I realized that more debt was not the answer to a life where I feel trapped.  Debt is the reason I’m trapped.  If I didn’t have six figures of student loan debt, do you know where my butt would be?  Zumba-ing it up on a beach in Bali.  No joke.

Brian Tracy sent an email to his subscriber list a few months ago (by the way, if you’re not a subscriber to Brian Tracy, I really recommend you get on it) outlining Seven Formulas for Business Success. He recommends “bootstrapping” your business. I ended up doing this accidentally and I’m very glad I did.

This means starting off with as little money as possible and growing your business through the revenue your business creates.  It’s the antithesis to the fast-start culture with venture capital and business loans, fancy logos and marketing proposals.  It also means that if you discover the market is lacking, you can try something else without having too much skin in the game.

When I first thought of working in fitness, I dreamed of operating my own studio.  The trouble is, rents in this area are quite high despite plenty of empty commercial spaces.  Heat, a/c, lights, internet, advertising, insurance and taxes are also substantial expenses. I didn’t realize before working in the fitness industry that there is an ebb and flow to business.  People drop off as the weather gets nicer and summer activities take priority.  Back to school and holidays are also quieter times because schedules are so busy.  If I had opened up shop without first building up a stable student base (and without knowing about the peaks and valleys of traffic), I probably would have been out of business within a very few months.

My growth has been slow, but steady. It has also been fairly manageable.  When one space gets too small, I move to a new rented space (I’ve moved twice so far).  All of my students come from word of mouth and Facebook — I don’t do any paid advertising whatsoever.  Partly this is because I just don’t have the brain space to keep track of ads with everything else going on.  I believe that if I devote my energy to putting together the best class possible, I will have more students than one little ol’ fitness instructor can handle.

So far, this seems to be working for me.

I’m wrapping up my series tomorrow by addressing how to fit it all in and some fears that you may need to face before making this leap.

Did I miss anything? If you have burning questions you need answered, let me know below!