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  • Writer's pictureRay Salisbury

Finding Your Purpose

Updated: May 4, 2021

If you are a new business owner, you will most likely be on a shoe-string budget. So you will be tempted to do everything yourself, DIY-style, like the typical Kiwi entrepreneur. The danger with juggling too many plates; of having too many irons in the fire, is that you may end up trading your old tiresome, stressed-out job for a new one. The dream of financial freedom can be tainted with overwork and underpay. In the ideal world, we’d have teams and systems in place to do everything for us.

So, what’s the silver bullet?

Firstly, let’s have a brief look at some pop psychology. Quoting the founders of Internet Business Mastery who describe themselves as ‘two entrepreneurs that left the cubicle wasteland behind and created six-figure incomes working online,’ Jeremy and Jason suggest that there are four categories of activity we can participate in:

1) Incompetent:

Stuff you know you’re not good at. You hate doing this stuff. For example, I hate book-keeping and can’t handle the multi-tasking component of cooking. Perhaps you don’t have an artistic bone in your body, or are terrified of public speaking. With these things, you are most likely to follow the mantra: ‘Why do today what you can put off until tomorrow?’

Believe it or not, some guys have begun businesses in the ‘incompetent’ category. In his blog Do What You Love, The Money Will Follow, Robert Pagliarini laments, “I’ve seen guys who can’t set the timer on their VCR try to start technology companies. I’ve seen others who can’t balance their chequebook try to start finance companies.” Needless to say, they all failed.

2) Competent:

You can achieve in these pursuits, but only to a minimum acceptable standard. Colleagues often tease you, saying, ‘don’t give up your day job!’ You are glad when another, more talented individual takes over these tasks.

As an example, one of my employers has built every aspect of his business by himself, from the ground up – including his website, which looks like the cat’s breakfast. Sometimes we let our own pride blind us to our own inadequacies and prevent us from hiring professionals.

3) Excellent:

You perform these tasks well above average and sometimes get asked to do these things by other people, which could boost your ego. The danger is that you’re not passionate about these undertakings, and it isn’t really what your business is about; it is actually a distraction. A great example is photography. Since we all own cameras, and it’s so easy to push the shutter button… why not do it yourself?

4) Purpose, Passion & Profitability:

This is your unique, God-given ability; what you were hard-wired to do. This is what other people value from you. You never procrastinate these tasks, because they feel more like play, not work. In fact, you get energised by this; you are ‘in the zone’. And the best thing is that when we love what we do, we perform at our best, and we’re more likely to persevere through the inevitable hard times.

This motivating purpose is deeper than a skill, or talent you need to work on. It’s definitely not related to money. For you, this intrinsic motivator is as normal as breathing; it feels like home; it is a natural state of being; it feels like the ideal way to do things.

The harsh reality is that, at times, we will have to engage in activities we do not enjoy. That’s life. But if we can engineer our lifestyle so we play to our strengths for much of the time, we will be happier, and our business venture will be more profitable.

Steve Jobs reckons that 'the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle.'

Finding your ‘Single Motivating Purpose’

As Winston Churchill once said, ‘success if going from one failure to another without losing enthusiasm.’ It usually takes us years of stumbling around to finally find out who we are and how we tick; to discover our personality type; to accept our inherent weaknesses with a good dose of humility. So how do you discover your purpose? While this involves some serious introspection, here are a few clues.

1) What are your hobbies?

2) When you have lots of spare time (perhaps on a holiday), what activities do you usually gravitate toward? Or, if you won Lotto, what would you do with your spare time?

3) What do other people say you are good at?

4) Have you been asked, or even paid, to perform tasks or participate in activities – and you’ve jumped at the chance? According to Jeremy Frandsen and Jason Van Orden from IBM, your Single Motivating Purpose must be universal – it is threaded through your personal and business life. To define your ‘SMP’, fill in the blank:

“I get up in the morning to … [DO THESE ACTIONS] in order to [PRODUCE THESE VALUABLE RESULTS FOR OTHERS].”

For example, I am a designer, photographer, teacher and musician. My ‘SMP’ is:

“I get up each morning to create content of aesthetic beauty, and produce artistic experiences that provoke and educate others.”

According to Robert Pagliarini, the real estate industry calls this your ‘highest and best use’ — your unique talents, skills and experience that produce the most value. He says that “the dead weight that so many people drag around with them is their feeling of unfulfillment at work. Part of the reason for this lethargy is that most people feel underutilised and don’t have the flexibility to do what they do best. We get boxed into positions and job descriptions that we can do adequately, but usually don’t tap into our core strengths.”


‘Finding you passion’ could become an elusive, navel-gazing exercise. This is a trendy topic, and it must be mentioned there is no road to instant success; only hard work, persistence and dogged determination. And, for some people, leaving the 9-to-5 job isn’t an option.

The maxim, ‘do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life’ has been attributed to Confucius, but he doesn’t live in 2021. Sometimes self-employment is not as glamorous in close-up view as it appears in wide-angle. And after all, the founder of Apple didn’t follow his own advice to seek one’s life-long passion, or else he would have become a Zen guru, not a tech legend.

But with that forewarning aside, let’s move on to the nuts and bolts of your business workflow.

Streamlining your time management

Frank Sinatra didn’t move pianos. The experts at IBM suggest that you rid yourself of unnecessary tasks that threaten to clutter up your work day. Here’s their advice…

  • Eliminate – Ask yourself: ‘does this task really need to be done?’

  • Streamline – simplify each task; minimise the time taken by thinking through the process.

  • Automate – is there a system to make this more efficient? Could you employ a programmer to create computer software to replace the need for mundane, time-consuming drudgery? Could you get an App designed to replace a paper-based system with an on-line system?

  • Outsource – Find someone who loves doing this task. For example, I use an accountant to do my book-keeping, and my wife to cook (that’s a no-brainer, as she’s amazing in the kitchen.) If you have an Internet-based business, there a literally millions of talented folks bidding to do work on-line… programmers, designers, voice-over talent, musicians, illustrators, typists, marketing experts, etc. Check out,

Plan the perfect day

When your new venture begins to tire or becomes stressful, this tip could re-energise your business. Plan an entire day when you only perform 3P activities (Purpose, Passion & Profitability). That is, you are working to your Single Motivating Purpose, doing what you love. Feel the difference!

Ideally, this could every Friday, or the first day of every month. Listen to this IBM podcast for further explanation.

Further resources:

Finally, if you are hungry for more business tips from seasoned experts, listen to the excellent podcasts at the Internet Business Mastery website:

They run a full-on academy, provide blog posts on how to attract customers, connect with Influencers, utilise social media and much, much more.


© 2021 Ray Salisbury / Nelson, New Zealand /

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