The following is adapted from The Aspiring Solopreneur: Your Business Startup Bible by Kris Kluver
If you’re considering becoming a solopreneur, you’ve likely heard about the importance of “finding your why.” What does that mean, exactly? In my mind, your why is your internal motivation. When it’s a rainy Monday, your why gets you out of bed.
If you’re considering being a solopreneur, it’s not uncommon that you haven’t found your why in your current job. Or, you don’t know what motivates you, and thus have no why.
In this article, we’ll look at defining your internal motivation (your why) and external motivation through the 3 t’s: time, treasure, and talent. If you’re thinking about striking out on your way, this exercise will give you a good look at why you want to do it.
How to Determine Your Why
To start, look at the aspects of what you love and hate about your current job. Get specific and drill down. If you love going to work, list the things you love about it. If you really hate going to work, list all the things that make you feel that way.
It’s within that love and hate that you begin to identify your motivations. If you love talking with people, that’s wonderful and important to know. This may suggest you like the personal interactions of your work. If you hate attending meetings and dealing with your company’s bureaucracy, this might suggest you would really prefer to be your own boss or that you just hate having to do the day-to-day paperwork.
As you go through each item, ask yourself, “Is this what I really love or hate, or is this more of a symptom of what I really love or hate?” You may think you love it when people come to you with questions, but what you actually love is being a problem-solver or being a teacher. Continue to narrow down the scope and identify these motivations, so you can start to see ways to focus and amplify them in the solopreneur world.
You have options. Nobody is making you stay in your current situation. If you want a different life, this is where you begin the journey. The biggest inhibitor of achieving your dreams is your own thinking, and it all begins with getting clear on your motivations. It’s time to determine what floats your boat and begin to think positive and dream big!
The 3 T’s: Time, Treasure, and Talent
The second key ingredients in motivation are your outside factors. Above I talked about your internal motivations, now I will review the external motivators that can affect you.
When you first begin to identify your motivations and why you want to escape office hell, you’ll probably think of reasons like: freedom, money, time, flexibility, proving someone wrong, pride of ownership, and so on. Those are all valid, but ultimately, these external motivations boil down to what I like to call the three main T’s: time, treasure, and talent.
These are the only three things in the world you can leverage. If you’re having trouble defining your motivation, look at time, treasure, and talent and identify what you want to build upon or where are you lacking. It could be one, two, or all three of them.
Time: Time is minutes and hours spent doing what you love. If you want to be able to go to every one of your daughter’s recitals, one of the motivations for being a solopreneur is being able to control your time on your terms. Whether it’s a controlled office environment, hating a daily commute, or ineffective meetings, there is a long list of commitments that can rob you of precious hours. This loss of control can have major impacts on your relationships, health, and your overall well-being.
Treasure: Treasure is money and stuff! Many people feel under-valued or poorly rewarded or believe they could or should be doing work with a higher value. Value and recognition for your work come in many forms but compensation is a very real indicator. Over time, feeling you are not getting paid what you are worth becomes demotivating. Knowing your worth, and getting compensated accordingly, is a wonderful feeling.
Talent: Talent is your God-given abilities and any skills you’ve been able to embrace. You may want to use your talent to help others in a way your current position doesn’t allow. Or you may want to grow your talents and fulfill an inner desire to maximize your personal development, or possibly venture into a completely different field.
Are Your Motivations Healthy?
Now that you’ve determined your why, ask yourself if your motivators are healthy. You wouldn’t believe the number of people who do things for the wrong reasons.
Perhaps you currently have a boss or co-worker who berates you and tells you that you could never be your own boss. A possible motivation may be to prove her wrong. While this could be a valid motivation, I would ask you to consider if it’s the right motivation. Are you willing to throw your life into turmoil just to prove some idiot wrong?
If you do something for the wrong motivations, your successes will be hollow. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t explore the notion of going out on your own, but it’s better if the motivations are forward moving and tied to personal growth rather than externally fueled. If you desire more control and accountability of your work life, with the ability to make all your daughter’s dance recitals, that is a positive motivation. When you succeed you can still let the former office bully know what an idiot they were.
The key is knowing your motivation and then owning it. Make sure you’re aware of it, because that will be one of the points that will help you define success. Bring your motivation full circle, and you’ll be looking at it from the side of success.
For more advice on finding your motivation as a solopreneur, you can find The Aspiring Solopreneur: Your Business Startup Bible on Amazon.
Kris Kluver is a seasoned solopreneur who started his first company at age nineteen in Omaha, Nebraska. Since then, he has been directly involved in the creation, operation, growth, and occasional sale of more than twenty successful businesses ranging from commercial real estate development and management to content marketing and daily social media operations. A former business broker and mentor, Kris has seen the inner workings of hundreds of businesses, some good, some ugly, all interesting. Through his many experiences he has gained a unique understanding, appreciation, and love of solopreneurship.
Author: Clarke Southwick – Editor of Book Bites