With passion, people can do extraordinary things. This holds true no matter who you are or what you want to become — an entrepreneur, a musician, an athlete, or a doctor. In fact, passion is a competitive advantage.
Having passion for your work doesn’t mean that the work will always be easy. But passion will drive you to keep pressing forward when challenges present themselves and sacrifices have to be made.
No amount of talent or financial resources can replace internal drive; countless talented people fail to achieve what they’re capable of because they lack it.
3 fresh ways to find your passion and write your brand story
If you want to become an entrepreneur and you know exactly what you’re passionate about, you’re incredibly fortunate. Whether they are completely aligned with your passion or not, business goals that inspire and invigorate you will help fuel your creativity and entrepreneurial journey in countless ways.
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If you’re an aspiring entrepreneur and you’re not sure what you’re passionate about, you’re absolutely not alone. Make it a priority, however, to find something that energizes you — something that you truly love to do — and use that as a foundation for your identity as an entrepreneur.
Here are three practical steps you can take to figure it out:
1. Make two lists
One list should include what you’re good at and the other should cover what you love. Defining your personal brand of entrepreneurship is a journey that requires you to think about how your best skill sets align with your interests.
Personally, I love music. I’ve always had rhythm, so I define myself as a rhythmic entrepreneur. As I’ve started numerous businesses, I let my experience as a musician form the foundation of my own personal brand identity.
On the surface, some of them may seem to have nothing to do with music, but I approach each venture with a musician’s mindset, which ultimately reveals itself as I go about brand-building for my companies.
Always let your own personal brand identity drive that exercise by connecting your business objectives to who you are as a person.
2. Figure out what you are not
Being an entrepreneur is not only about taking risks and jumping into the unknown, but it is also largely about mitigating risk as you move toward success.
Knowing what you’re not can help you more clearly define that path and keep you from second-guessing yourself as you push your business forward. Likewise, knowing what you are not will make it easier for you to connect with likeminded people and create an authentic brand story.
Remember, your personal brand is yours alone to create and develop. It doesn’t have to arise from what others say you are; it comes from what you choose to be. If you choose to be an entrepreneur, over time, your entrepreneurial success will become ingrained into your personal brand.
Travis Barker, drummer for Blink-182, has always been an inspiration to me. Launching his apparel line, Famous Stars and Straps, was an epic way to exploit his brand identity. The brand reflected his Southern California, laid-back, punk-rock attitude and lifestyle that also shine through in his music and in his personality.
Being the drummer in Blink-182 was Barker’s personal brand identity, but the external brands he created helped him solidify a more deliberate and dynamic personal brand identity over time.
3. Connect with people who share your passion
Spending time with people who share your interests is a great way to stay motivated, learn about yourself, and fuel your own personal and professional growth. But it’s also a way to learn about what makes others tick.
Be curious. Ask questions. Why do people like the things they like? What are their motivations for devoting time to a particular interest? What other common ground do you share? As an entrepreneur, the quality of the connections you make — with investors, customers, competitors, and anyone else — might be the No. 1 determinant of your success.
I’ve always been a huge fan of Troy Carter and his keen sense for early-stage companies that become unicorns. He’s a music industry veteran and investor in innovative companies like Spotify, Lyft, Uber, Dropbox, and Warby Parker.
In a recent Forbes interview, Carter says, “Coming from the music business and seeing the transition from artists to fans, fans to consumers, it’s really about understanding the psychology of why people want to associate with your brand.”
In other words, building a brand that resonates with people requires not only self-awareness, but also empathy and an understanding of what motivates them. So spend as much time as you can with people who share your interests and values.
Your brand story is your way to connect with customers, investors, partners, and anyone else who may interact with your brand on an emotional level. The story you tell through your words and actions will ultimately shape the story people tell about you.
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As Jeff Bezos famously said, “Branding is what people say about you when you’re not in the room.” What story do people tell about you when you’re not around?
And if you’re honest with yourself about your values, interests, and priorities, your story will write itself. Eventually, people will understand who you are and what your brand stands for through every decision you make and every product you launch.
This article has been edited and condensed.
Nick Gross, Vice President and COO of Milky Agency, is a multi-talented individual who empowers others through passion, creativity, and purpose. Aside from Milky Agency, his other roles include being the CEO of music production house STRZ Enterprises, the founder of the Find Your Grind Foundation, and the drummer for Half The Animal. Connect with @niqgross on Twitter.