From passion to business – how to take 7 steps to success wearing someone else’s shoes


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Photo credits: Burst,

If you think this is another article about pursuing your passion and turn it into business, you’d be wrong. Been there, done that 20 yrs ago, and I found out that’s not so simple as it sounds. At the same time now I positively confirm that the business is done around the passion.

The tricky question is: whose passion?

Let me tell you about a friend of mine; she is multitalented, bright and full of original, new ideas. One of the most creative people I ever knew, but as much stubborn in following her opinion and not consulting with the world around her. Do you know such people – I bet you do know whom I’m talking about. She followed her inspiration and her ideas and quickly got lost in her world if creation. But her communication channel with the world around her was kind of upside-down experience – it seems that her audience didn’t quite understand her genius and at the same time she didn’t have enough patience to communicate it well. So her creations went one way, and her audience went another, and they never got together for long enough to start earning money she felt that she deserved. She, as many multitalented and sensitive geniuses, misunderstood the idea of building a business around the passion.

Yes, one can have an excellent time doing what you love. Yes, it is possible to make money doing what you love. Yes, by doing what you love you can become an expert in it. And Yes, if you want to do a serious business out of it, you have to found out which particulate part of your expertise makes your audience happy. It’s their passion, not yours that your business is about. When you have a passion, and you want to upgrade it to a business, first you have to found out in which part of your passion audience falls in love, and who and where are these people, what do they need, feel think and experience. And build your business on that foundation. Design thinking is the process that starts with your idea, your passion and helps you incorporate your client’s passion in it, to make your venture a win-win journey.

So how do you do that?

1. Prototype your idea and take it to the audience

There are many ways to prototyping – and they depend on the nature of your business. The idea behind the prototype is to make something that takes a little time and money, that can showcase all of the crucial features of your design or innovation. In a way, it has to be tangible in a way that enables the audience to interact with it, without explaining the whole thing by just telling it.

2. Look for interaction and don’t ask straight-forward and closed questions

This means that you won’t ask – do you like it? or – would you buy it? questions. You’ll introduce your minimum viable product aka prototype, and observe, and let your audience explore it and interact with it, in any possible way. And you just observe and soak in impressions. Because it’s not the perfect and finished product, there’s the space for your audience to try improving it – and that is what you actually want – because they might get to the ideas you never thought of.

3. Keep silent and let them talk

Being silent yet present is a skill that needs practising, and when you master your reword will be much bigger than you ever expected it to be. If you are the expert, and I believe you are, it might not be easy to slow down your need to do more, provide immediate help or enter the smart debate. Depending on your field of work, your future clients might react with slight shock when you present them with the simple and unperfect product because they expected a finished and perfect one – and seeing their reaction might trigger your need to explain much more than needed, and by doing that contaminate the thinking process of the audience.

4. Be open to the insight, whatever it is

Sometimes we adore our new findings, and sometimes we don’t. What we find out during the testing of our prototypes might take us to an unexpected path, but if this is what your audience truly needs, follow it and see where that takes you.

5. Rinse and repeat, until you get to the essence of best solution

Take your insights and improve your prototype into the better and more viable version, and show it again to your people. The moment you get to feel what is it to walk in their shoes the bridge to the completed product or service starts appearing. Performing several iterations of prototyping will distil the best essence of your design combined with what your audience actually need, and at the same time, you’ll develop a deep understanding of your future customer experience.

6. Keep the record of stories that pop up in this process

When you explore the depth of your idea or design and engage with your audience, you might remember some things from your life that you thought you forgot. And you might hear unexpectedly profound stories from other people lives. Allow them to change your point of view, and learn from them. Write them down, tell them in your articles because they are pure, true gold that adds value to your product or service. While doing that be sure to have the permission to tell other people stories, or mention them – and the best way would be if you could get them to talk for you, not about your product or service, but about their lives and changes that occurred.

7. The bonus of this process is about becoming a humble person, a servant – leader, a human-oriented product or service provider

On the other side, your more profound understanding of the service/product design process will uplift your experience of being the someone else’s client because you’ll be able to recognise and honour the effort that other people put into their work, or undoubtfully ask for better treatment if needed.

In the end, all business, online and offline, are done between people, all jobs exist because some people need them. Even if done by AI, it’s about people. It might be a good idea to find our own way or process of exploring what effect your service or product has on your audience and look for an inventive way of adapting it to their actual needs.

Dijana Novak
An architect by vocation, Dijana exchanged building site tin-box for a creative coaching toolbox. Instead of designing buildings, she helps smart business people redesign their positioning, introducing creative leadership, innovation and genuine online presence.


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