Many many years ago I was in Tasmania at the very bottom of Australia. It’s a beautiful place.
I was there because I’d made a choice to seek out adventure. I was going to backpack around the country, pick fruit to earn some money and live in hostels since I couldn’t afford to live in hotels (this was before AirBNB was an option).
At the time I was running my first company, BetterEdit.com, an essay editing Services Arbitrage business. It was still early days with this project so I wasn’t making much money.
This was also before I had a mobile phone with Internet access, and the hostel I was at had no wifi service (this may have been before wifi made it to the countryside in Tasmania). I had to make a trek to the tiny library in the tiny town that was a 45 minute walk down the hill from the hostel to work on a computer with Internet access.
The point of this trip was to be a traveler and earn money from fruit picking. Being a web entrepreneur was not a priority.
How Failing At Fruit Picking Pushed Me To Go Full Time Entrepreneur
I quickly learned that fruit picking was not going to be my path to riches. I didn’t expect it to be of course, but I didn’t realize how poor my earning capacity truly was when picking apples.
I was up and down a ladder climbing trees and grabbing red delicious apples for 10 hours per day, and after taxes were conveniently withheld for me by the farmer, I was earning about $50 a day cash in hand — not a living wage in Australia. I’d spend half my weekly earnings just on my hostel bill and the rest would go to feeding myself enough to have the energy to keep climbing the ladder all day long!
Part of this was my fault because I hadn’t picked up the skills yet to become a master fruit picker. I was working with some guys who were incredibly efficient, picking 2.5 times as many apples in a day than I did, and thus earning about $125 per day. These professional pickers would work like this for five days a week, six months a year, then take the rest of the year off (some of them seemed to drink away their profits during the evenings though).
Needless to say, I didn’t like fruit picking.
I spent much of my day dreaming about business ideas, wondering what was going on online as the world recovered from the dot com crash that had just hit. I even contemplated starting a business selling cold drinks to the fruit pickers for $2 a can, making a healthy $1 profit each. I figured a day spent driving farm-to-farm selling snacks and drinks to the workforce would earn me more than being the workforce.
You probably won’t be surprised to learn that within six weeks my trip was over. I had given up and was back home. It was shortly after this that I made the decision to focus 100% on growing BetterEdit, which set me on the path to becoming a full-time online entrepreneur.
Experiment With Your Motivational Energy
Over the years there have been many times where I have started a task to discover I wasn’t enjoying it and my motivation was taking me elsewhere.
Sometimes it was obvious, like with fruit picking and learning how to code in the Java programming language (I really failed completely at this one — and it cost me an entire course at university because I just gave up without formally dropping out). Other times, it wasn’t quite as obvious because the task was linked to something I was motivated to complete, but I still had to push myself to get it done.
Over time, as I gravitated more to tasks I was motivated to do, and not just because of the outcome but because of the enjoyment of the work itself, it became easier to gain clarity on ‘what I was meant to do‘. Eventually this would lead to greater rewards, since I spent more time honing my craft and thus my output was better — for example, the years I spent writing blog posts led to becoming a better writer.
Figuring out my motivation wasn’t always obvious though. I spent many years moving from task to task, idea to idea, whether it was learning a new marketing skill like Google ads, to how to design graphics with some new tool, creating videos with camera and lighting gear to hiring people to join my team. For some of these tasks I enjoyed parts of the process, others I had initial motivation and did the work but after a few failures motivation quickly dried up.
Looking back, it probably took me about a decade to find that sweet spot where your motivation aligns with a big project/idea/business that can earn you a full time income or more, which you are motivated to work on most days.
Today I feel very aligned with what I enjoy, what I am good at, and what I am motivated to continue to develop. It still takes some trial and error, but I’m a lot more capable of judging my own motivation and realizing why I might be procrastinating or unable to make a firm commitment to something.
Where Is Your Motivation Taking You?
I realize there are times in life, many times, where you just have to do something because you have to do it.
Unfortunately life doesn’t evenly distribute the circumstances we are born into. Some people have to force themselves to do what they might not want to sometimes just because it is the only way to survive or to feed your family.
That being said, most people who are reading this have a degree of control over the decisions they make. This means you have the power to become self aware of what you want to change about your life and to figure out how your motivation can support these goals.
This is a critical skill to develop because life rewards consistency, and motivation is what fuels repetition.
Most of the financial rewards I have earned and thus freedom I have enjoyed in my life, not to mention creative satisfaction too, has come from what I am doing right now — writing.
As I wrote about in my article — Why Having An Audience Has Solved So Many Problems — because I became a consistent content producer, I was able to grow an audience.
Every business success I have had since then has in some way been born from this audience. Most of the money I have made has come from the same source, because even when I made money from investments, the initial investment funds came from my businesses profits.
Bear in mind, I spent about 10 years figuring out my motivation and what business model to leverage with it, and it wasn’t always a fun learning experience. I wasn’t consistent for a long time and thus my results were not either. Once I figured out something that I was willing to do over and over again, and it could lead to what I wanted using a specific business model, I stuck to it long enough to be rewarded.
Leverage Your Motivation To Build Something Amazing
Since you’re reading my blog, you’re probably an entrepreneur and you’re probably using or planning to use the Internet as a means to make a living, or even become part of the 1% rich.
For that to happen, there needs to be a function you perform over and over again that will result in significant reward for you.
You need to be motivated to keep performing that function long enough to become very good at it, and to enjoy the benefits of compounding. The function may be part of a process where you bring a specific skill (for example video production, programming, public speaking, writing, design, project management, coaching, teaching, storytelling) that combined with technology and help from other people, results in the creation of a profitable business.
Chances are during the early days you are still experimenting, wearing many hats, because you have to — you are responsible for most tasks, many of which you are probably only motivated to complete because no one else will do it for you!
Over time though, as you build a team and create digital assets, you will find yourself in a position to focus most of your time on the tasks that you are most motivated to do. This is a great place to be, and one you should work towards.
If you’re not sure what motivates you that could lead to a successful business, the first thing you need to do is understand the components of what makes an online business work. Then you can figure out what roles you will perform, and in particular, what core skills you will work to develop over time — and are motivated to do so.
To help you comprehend this overall perspective and to gain clarity on what skills are valuable today, I recommend you take my free workshop:
This workshop takes you through my system for building an online business based on content.
What type of content you create is entirely up to you — but of course on some level it must align with your motivation. That motivation might be simply because you want to help others, which is a great place to start from. My workshop will give you a system for building a business around helping others with content you give away for free and content you sell to make money from.
After that, if you want more guidance and support from me, my Blog Mastermind 2.0 course is the next level training I offer.