How I Built an Online Business Around My Passion

How I Built an Online Business Around My Passion

In 2006, I felt the urge to do something else.

At the time, I was a professional poker player, but I felt like it was time to turn the page.

However, I struggled for a long time.

I wasted over $10,000 on get-rich quick programs and coaching. And it took me until early 2009 to create my first successful website.

But when things clicked, they really clicked.

At the end of 2009, I was making multiple thousands per month via my online websites. I was starting to do what I was truly interested in.

My online business allowed me to spend almost the entire year of 2010 in Spain with my girlfriend and our dog.

And in December 2011, I became a father, which means I now get to see my son grow up. I don’t have to commute anywhere, and I can fit my schedule around my life.

But it wasn’t always like this.

The Struggle

In the beginning, I was looking for a quick-fix.

I wanted shortcuts. I wanted to make money as fast as possible so I could relax and do what I loved.

I had it all backwards. And I see this in my customers and clients as well. It’s a common pitfall.

We believe that we can’t get paid to do what we love, so we look for how we can make a lot of money, which will then allow us the freedom we want.

And that’s exactly what I did.

I fell for the big promises of internet marketers. I had no one to guide me. But I still kept going, because deep down I felt like there had to be something to this.

I kept trying, failing, giving up, and trying.

The Breakthrough

And eventually, I had a breakthrough.

I realized that I had to stop looking for quick-fixes. I had to stop diluting my energy between the dozens of projects I had going on.

I was afraid of missing out on a good opportunity, so I tried to do everything all at once. I was afraid of failure, but what I didn’t see was that I had already failed by diluting my focus.

Once I saw this, I eliminated everything but one project.

I got in touch with someone who was doing what I wanted to do. I asked him what I should do, and I followed the instructions to the letter.

I took massive action, and within a few months, I was making $500 a month. This was in 2009. It was my first successful website.

After that, it grew. I started another website, and I built several other income streams. Things started changing, but it all came about from changing my mindset.

But the journey wasn’t all unicorns on rainbows.

The Inner Demons

I had to face my inner demons.

And we have to face our inner demons even if we “settle,” because that’s how life works. Life is here to throw challenges at you so you can grow.

There would be no evolution without challenges.

Starting an online business around your passion has been one of the fastest paths of personal growth for me. I constantly have to push my boundaries.

I have a lot of fears and doubts now that are still with me even though I am “successful.”

I worry that I’m not good enough. I’m afraid of what the future holds. And the list goes on. The bottom line is that we all face the same fears.

The solution is not to try and get rid of the fears, but instead rise above them, transcend them.

The way I’ve done this is to notice the awareness that I am behind my thoughts. I am not the thoughts that pop up, and I don’t have to give them power, unless I want to.

The same holds true for you. You are not the dance, you are the dance floor.

The Message

If there’s one thing I could tell the Henri just starting out, it would be to focus on one project, and keep putting one foot in front of the other.

I would tell him that there’s no rush.

And that there are no quick fixes.

Don’t listen to the people promising you amazing riches without any work. This takes hard work. You will struggle.

And you will want to quit.

But it’s all worth it, because when you follow your heart, your whole life changes.

I know mine certainly has.

Photo by Nas t

Henri Junttila

Henri is a freelance writer and the founder of Wake Up Cloud, where he helps people turn their passion into a thriving lifestyle business. When you feel ready to take action, grab his free special report.

45 Comments

  1. “But it’s all worth it, because when you follow your heart, your whole life changes.”

    Keeping with it is the problem. Overcoming the doubts, breaking through. I’ve followed my heart and found periods of deep satisfaction only to get lost. You’ve got to stay on the path. I hope that I’m doing that now.

    Dan @ ZenPresence

    Reply
    • Yes. And to me, the doubts, fears and worries have been there nudging me to go deeper.

      When you build a business around your passion, it also helps you grow as a human being, because there comes a point where you have to transcend the doubts and see that just because a thought says you’re not good enough does not make it true.

      Keep rocking, Dan!

      Reply
  2. Henri, great post! Isn’t it amazing the amount of power that we can find once we stop diluting our energy, and instead, focus fully by taking massive action on one important task? Your results are clear proof of that fact.

    Bruce Lee said it best: “I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 different kicks, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times.”

    Reply
    • Absolutely. One thing, one step at a time, does wonders.

      Great Bruce Lee quote!

      Reply
    • Great quote !

      Reply
  3. Hi Henri,

    This reminds of a quote, “If you want it you must obtain it by great labor.” T.S. Eliot.

    Fear and doubt will generally decrease when we execute a plan because our focus will be on the work not on our fears. Thinking generates fears. So if we stop thinking about what we can’t do instead start doing what we can do, then our thinking will be about the work that we have passion for.

    Eugene

    Reply
    • Howdy Eugene,

      I completely agree.

      And if you can’t stop thinking or can’t shift your focus, simply sit down and welcome your fears.

      Don’t analyze or try to figure them out. Just feel them. Let them be, and interesting things will happen.

      Reply
  4. Another thing that diluted my energy was trying to learn and do every part of one project at once: marketing, production, content, accounting, networking, online storefront, in-person sales, etc. I had to learn to focus on one aspect, get it down, then move on to the next. Thanks for the post, it helps me remember not to overwhelm myself!

    Reply
    • Yes. That was a huge thing for me as well in the beginning. I tried to do everything. Things get so much easier when you learn what you have to learn to move forward.

      One step at a time does it.

      Reply
  5. Thanks Henri. Great post. As one of your students I celebrate your success. I too am living my dream in a home based business over the phone Coaching and Training for real estate agents. My daughter gave us our first grandchild last week and I was able to be there. I am so grateful for your guidance in following my passion and doing what I love. While working for only myself and my clients.

    Reply
    • Thanks Donna.

      Congratulations on the grandchild! :)

      Reply
  6. Very interesting and resonant, Henri. I too have been in and out of poker (live, not online) and web (design not products, until recently). I look forward to keeping up with your progress and growth.

    Reply
    • Thanks Andy :)

      Reply
  7. I couldn’t agree with you more Henri. Thank you for this post. it is in acceptance that lies the biggest power we can attain, the sum of all our efforts, the seeming coming to terms with the way we are and the way life around us is, but in actual fact transcending it all.

    It sounds simple but it’s not easy. There are no mountain peaks that are hospitable to live on. Our continued engagement in sharing the climbing knowledge and repeated successful (and failed) attempts at claiming new victories in different projects is what makes life worthwhile.

    The resultant joy is what one truly can call a life aligned with one’s purpose.

    Reply
    • Well put, Alex!

      Reply
  8. soo true.
    I realized that too and it was very hard realizing if you are as impatient as I am :)

    Now I am trying to be consistent and hard working, focusing on one project a time, planning the tspes which will get me to where I want to be :)

    Reply
    • It’s all a learning process, so keep on going and you’ll get there.

      Reply
  9. Great post, Henri! I really like your line: “The solution is not to try and get rid of the fears, but instead rise above them, transcend them.” Like this suggests, I often find that it’s more productive to focus on what I should do instead of what I should not. For example, I work on what I should eat more than what I shouldn’t. By doing what I should, it leaves less room for doing the things I should be avoiding. Plus, I just feel more motivated by doing than by avoiding.

    Reply
    • Yes sir.

      When we focus on what we should avoid, we are picturing that in our mind, so we are in a sense focusing on it.

      Reply
  10. I’m working at it. I know there are no quick fixes, but oh, sometimes things seem to move sooooo… slow that it can get frustrating. But the passion and fun kick in and keeps me going. I’m in it for the long haul.

    Reply
    • I’m in the same place from time to time, even now that I have been making a living online for a few years.

      I want things to go faster, so I have to remind myself to stay in the present moment, where the good stuff happens.

      Reply
  11. Hi Henri,

    I’ve been working on my own for a while now and spent a lot of early time and capital going in a million directions. I learned many difficult lessons that way and completely agree with your comment here.

    “If there’s one thing I could tell the Henri just starting out, it would be to focus on one project, and keep putting one foot in front of the other.”

    Thanks for sharing.

    Reply
    • It seems we all have to go through our own learning phase in the beginning, and we come out wiser in the end, if we keep going.

      Thanks for sharing, Derek!

      Reply
  12. Your post raises a really important point – the approach to an online business should be no different to any other business. It is all about creating a business with strong foundations that will give sustainability and longevity and deliver results consistently.

    Reply
    • Yup, yup. It is the same. A business is a business.

      Reply
  13. What if you’ve lost your passion? It’s difficult to create or find a map to guide you when you no longer care about those things for which you were once passionate. After losing my home to foreclosure, all I care about now is having a home and a family to fill it. But you can’t really force that when you are still single, either. How does one discover or recognize the life they want outside of what they’re passionate about? Perhaps unfortunately – perhaps not – I’m in the opposite position: After years of holding fast, following dreams, going back to school, and chasing an industry that doesn’t seem to want me, I am now only concerned about making the most amount of money I possibly can doing whatever needs doing in order to prepare and provide for what it is I truly want. Perhaps on that journey I will discover a new passion. But in the meantime, the focus will be the good ol’ American dollar.

    Reply
    • When your passions change, it’s a good sign that you are growing as a human being.

      What following your passion/purpose comes down to for me is staying in the present moment and following those subtle nudges we all get.

      Just following my excitement.

      Yes, it’s not easy, but for me, it has been worth it.

      And yes, do what you have to do.

      Reply
  14. Great article Henri!

    I’m feeling I’m going the same way. I have started a bit later than you and at first I was looking for shortcuts, because I wasn’t confident in what I had to do.

    I was reading blog posts, buying course, ebooks, signing up to different newsletters in hope to find the magic secret that will help me create an online business. I fell a victim of instant formulas and shortcuts.

    Today I’m following the mindset that you recommend and I hope that this will work out for me.

    Reply
    • You’ll always end up where you need to be when you keep following your internal GPS ;)

      Reply
  15. Thanks for your inspiration! I am glad that you were able to push through your fears to find a way to do what you love and get paid well for it. My biggest take away is to not look for quick fixes. I tend to what immediate gratification for whatever I am doing. This only leads to failure. thanks again

    Reply
    • Great take away. Thanks for sharing, Karen!

      Reply
    • Karen I think it’s more about having a plan and a system. If you have specific, measurable long term goals, you know what you need to be doing day-by-day to accomplish success. And the whimsical effect of emotions matters less.

      Success isn’t about willpower, or even motivation really. It’s about planning and sticking to a system that will, in the long term, bring success.

      Reply
  16. I just think of all the people who have made huge contributions and have been compensated hugely for those contributions and then think about the amount of all-consuming passion they poured into what they did. The hours and hours they spent on it long after everyone else turned out the lights and went to bed. The greats in any industry (entertainment, technology, medicine, literature, anything) have become great because they had the dream, worked their butts off, and kept at it (or came back to it) even when things got discouraging.

    Thanks for the reminder, Henri.

    Reply
  17. I totally get what your saying, It is so easy to just think or to be tricked into believing that these automated get rich schemes are going to make you easy money, I too have made the same mistake trying to juggle to many balls in one go or trying all the get rich quick programs that fail to deliver instead of just focusing on the one project your passionate about first.

    Reply
  18. This article is exceptional, but I would really encourage you to elaborate more.

    What “get rich quick” types things did you do?

    How did you realize that they wouldn’t work?

    What did you do differently as a result?

    Your experience is unique and insights are great. You really should write another article here (or on your blog?) sharing some more details. That will really help readers see how they can apply your advice in their life.

    Reply
    • Thanks for the feedback. A follow-up article is coming next month.

      Just spoke to Peter (owner of this fine blog), and he gave the go-ahead.

      Keep rocking!

      Reply
  19. Great post Henri. Many of us have taken those detours on the way to what we really want. If it is worth doing there will be a price well worth paying for it.

    Reply
    • Absolutely. And you never know if those detours are exactly what you need in order to succeed.

      Reply
  20. Great read! An Inspiration totally!…

    Reply
  21. I wish, I could leave my job one day and become full fledged blogger. Most of us do jobs that don’t interest anymore. We are just doing it earn bread and butter for our family. I am just waiting for the day when I would be doing the work that I just love.

    Reply
    • There’s no need to wait. Start now, start small. Even if you left your job, you would still be where you are now, but without a job.

      There are plenty of people building up (and exploring their passion) with a full time job.

      Keep rocking!

      Reply
    • Richard- I think the problem is clear from what you write about. You see becoming a blogger as a binary decision between having a blog and having a job. You’re waiting for the day for something (or someone) else to bless you with the ability to do the work you would love.

      Instead of waiting for someone else to give you this opportunity, why not make it for yourself? Define goals, and proactively look for ways to accomplish them given your situation.

      I think you’ll realize eventually that the only thing holding you back is yourself. When I realized that about myself, I was able to make monumental changes in my life that have made me happier and more successful.

      Reply
  22. Hi Henri,

    Loved your post and right now when i read your post i felt like i connect to your story. I have an idea of an online business, but I am not sure where to start. Can you please let me know any comprehensive guide/ a step-by step guide to set up a website with a great Idea???

    Reply
  23. Hi Henri,

    I was inspired by your post. We say “work at what you love and you never work again.

    Thanks,

    ML

    Reply

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