When I graduated from college, I didn’t follow the path of most young 22 year olds and find a full-time job in my field. I didn’t even find a full-time job, period. And ever since then, I’ve dreamed a thousand dreams and tried to fuel a hundred of them. I tried writing a book; I tried starting a blog; I looked into personal training; I looked into becoming a makeup artist; I researched every conceivable Master’s degree that I might be interested in; I tried writing eBooks; I tried a couple handmade businesses; I tried teaching music to little ones. The list probably goes on. Something I found with just about everything I tried is that by the time I discovered or thought of the idea, the market was already saturated. So when something didn’t take off right away, I moved on, thinking I just had to find the thing no one else had thought of but everyone wanted. Which is not a bad thing, by the way, I just wasn’t able to do it. I never got anywhere.
2015 and 2016 have been pivotal years in my entrepreneurship journey. Last year I learned a little lesson in stick-to-it-tiveness (not a word, but it should be) when I met a woman at a conference who started a business 11 years before, but it wasn’t until seven years in that she was able to make it her fulltime job. It was then that I realized – while some people’s ideas take off immediately – more often than not you have to keep chugging along and live in complete obscurity and deal with profit loss or just simply making nothing. Eventually the hard work and humility pay off.
This year I was at a workshop for my nonprofit job, and the woman presenting said something that changed my mindset about building your dreams in a crazy market. She said that instead of thinking that nonprofits have to fight over the same slice of pie, we have to realize that the pie actually gets bigger.
Don’t ask me the logic of that. Don’t ask me how that works. But when she said those words, I realized that could apply to other areas of life and other markets. It’s not a foolproof way of thinking – like I can do anything and eventually people will just flock to it – but if I have a passion for something and am willing to work hard at it and rework it when necessary, I may just find a place for myself. I may just fill a need that no one even realized was there. And being me, I can bring something to the market no one else can.
So, if you have an idea: work on it, research it, build it. Just because lots of people already seem to do what you’re doing, that doesn’t mean you have no business being there. It does mean that your idea is possible, because others succeed in it already.