How cool would it be to own a business that’s built on your passion, your talent, and a market that loves what you sell?
That’s the Holy Grail for solopreneurs, and David Allen Sibley found it.
Sibley is an American ornithologist, and he’s the author and illustrator of “The Sibley Guide to Birds” (and subsequent birding guides), considered by many to be the most comprehensive guide for North American field identification. In the world of birding, Sibley is a superstar.
I first discovered Sibley’s work in 2004 when I wanted a handy book for identifying birds in my background and at my bird feeder. I was amazed that such a young man (Sibley was born in 1962) would have created THE books for such an established field of study. How did he do it?
Sibley’s passion manifested itself early, and his talent found a nurturing environment. He writes on his Facebook page: “I was lucky to know what I wanted to do for a living when I was 12 years old (illustrate bird guides), and even luckier to be the son of an ornithologist (so my interest in birds was encouraged and fed).”
Sibley had the passion and the talent. But what about having a product that people will buy?
In his preface to “The Sibley Guide To Birds of Eastern North America,” Sibley explains his market research: “What I was really aiming for was my personal ideal guide, one that would include all the things that I wanted in a field guide.”
So Sibley didn’t have to wonder if his ideal customer would buy his books; he WAS the ideal customer, and he created a product he would love.
From Sibley’s example, we learn that if you have passion, talent, and a market, then the odds of solopreneurial success are high. But what if you don’t have all three?
Not Easy to Succeed
Two out of three ain’t bad, but it’s not ideal for building a sustainable solo business. Let’s look at the combinations.
The worst combination: passion and talent, but no market. Without people who want to buy your stuff, you don’t have a business. Period.
The not-too-bad combination: talent and a market, but no passion. You can build a very nice business with only talent and a market (MANY people have) but at some point your work will become drudgery.
The manageable combination: passion and a market, but no talent. You will need to find skilled people to help you execute what you want to accomplish. This can be done, and everywhere you turn you’ll see businesses that started this way.
Your Next Step
Examine your business (or potential business) through the lenses of passion, talent, and markets. It will give you valuable insight into your odds for success.
Published: May 14, 2013