Design Your Ideal Business Part 1: Your Unique Offering

Feel like you don’t have a clear vision for your business? Like you’re constantly reacting to external forces, rather than building something special based on your internal guidance and unique gifts?

Let’s explore how to align with your talents, interests, and purpose, and then design a clear vision to move toward so you can focus on building the business you were born to create.

[Full Transcript]

Feel like you don’t have a clear vision for your business? Like you’re constantly reacting to external forces, rather than building something special based on your internal guidance and unique gifts?

Let’s explore how to align with your talents, interests, and purpose, and then design a clear vision to move toward so you can focus on building the business you were born to create.

Defining Talents, Interests, and Purpose

In my previous post, Align With Your Purpose as an Entrepreneur, I defined purpose as the “culmination of how you’re meant to contribute to the world and authentically express yourself as a unique individual. The sum result of all the attributes and elements that make up your nature—your talents, skills, interests, quirks, and strengths.”

Let’s dig deeper into that last word “strengths.”

My favorite description of strengths comes from Nine Lies About Work: A Freethinking Leader’s Guide to the Real World (co-authored by Marcus Buckingham and Ashley Goodall).

In it, Buckingham shares why playing to your strengths—rather than focusing all your energy on fixing your weaknesses—can have such a huge impact on your success.

  • A strength isn’t defined by how good you are at an activity. It’s defined by how it makes you feel.
  • “A strength, properly defined, is not ‘something you are good at.’” There may be many things you’re good at that bore you—or even drain you.
  • A strength is an activity that makes you feel strong. You look forward to doing it (positive expectation). Time seems to speed up while you’re doing it (flow). And after you’ve done it, you feel “filled up” (fulfillment).
  • This combination of feelings drives you to do more of the activity—to practice it over and over. “A strength is far more appetite than ability.” The appetite to keep working on it. That type of continued effort is what “produces the skill improvement necessary for excellent performance.”
  • We’re drawn to activities that bring us joy. That “breathe life into us and lift us up out of ourselves to reveal something finer, more resilient, and more creative.”

Buckingham’s model ties the concepts of talents, interests, and purpose together into one powerful mindset. By focusing on our strengths, we’re able to harness all of our natural talent, and put it in the service of a greater purpose that gives our lives deeper meaning and fulfillment.

It’s from this foundation that great businesses are built. And it’s from this perspective that you as an entrepreneur can design your own ideal business. Not as just a means to an end (money), but as an end unto itself. An expression of who you are as a person, and what you were put on this earth to do.

Why Playing to Our Strengths is Critical For Entrepreneurs

Identifying and playing to our strengths may be our best and most unique competitive advantage. Unless we invent some new technology or product that can’t be easily copied by another company, what else differentiates us from everyone else as much as our unique mix of strengths?

Gordon Ramsay has built a culinary and media empire based on his own unique mix of strengths. He took who he is, the good and the bad, and focused on bringing that authentic expression of himself out into the world in the best way he knew how—by celebrating the artistry and joy of food. He creates from a space of deep connection to his highest level of energy, enthusiasm, and intrinsic motivation.

Sure, there’s some yelling too. Maybe that part is just Ramsay’s ego breaking through in moments of stress and frustration. But for all we know, that famous temper could be the key to his mega-successful public persona.

Despite his imperfections, Ramsay is unique as an artist and entrepreneur. Same goes for other famous examples, like the late Steve Jobs, Richard Branson, and Elon Musk.

And the same also goes for countless other entrepreneurs who are building unique businesses of all shapes and sizes around their unique mix of strengths.

The alternative is not quite as inspiring, is it? If you’re not being guided by your own inner compass based on what lights you up, you’ll likely find yourself:

  • Chasing instead of leading, and following trends rather than inspiring them.
  • Mimicking your competitors rather than setting your own expectations.
  • Trying to please every type of customer, rather than being the best fit for the right ones.

And what’s the end result of all this chasing? Will it be a business you can look at with pride, knowing that you brought something into the world that only you could have built? Probably not.

More than likely, you’ll end up with a business designed around your weaknesses—activities and projects that drain you of life—all in the service of “making it.”

What’s Blocking Us From Playing to Our Strengths

Lack of a Clear Vision

Sometimes we just don’t know what we really want.

We find clues, those little moments that light us up and bring us joy. The projects and activities that we wish we could do all day, every day.

But despite these breadcrumbs, we still hesitate. We decide to not decide. We “leave our options open,” or “play it by ear,” or “read just one more book before we get started.”

AKA—analysis paralysis.

And in this state of confusion, we default to reactivity. The customer asks for X, so we start doing X—even if we really couldn’t care less about X.

Or maybe you’re struggling a bit to build your customer base. You look around you at what other people are doing, and you notice that a few of them seem to be having some success doing X. So you decide to do X too, even though it’s not something you actually even like to do, let alone love.

When we stop trusting our own intuition, we get caught up with seeking safety in the wisdom of the crowd. After all, if everyone else is doing X, then it must be right…right?

Next thing you know, you’ve built a business that has almost no relationship to even the vaguest vision you had when you started. It’s morphed into a monster, a Frankenbusiness.


That’s not to say that you should ignore customer feedback, market realities, or surprise opportunities. Just the opposite. If you ignore reality, you may not have any business left at all.

But without an internal compass to guide you, how will you know what feedback and opportunities even matter? If a patron at one of Gordon Ramsay’s many high-end restaurants complained that their entree was too expensive, Ramsay’s response might be “this may not be the type of restaurant you’re looking for. There’s a Chipotle down the street that may be more to your liking.”

Maybe he’d go back into the kitchen and mutter a few profanities under his breath. And then he’d open an even more expensive restaurant by that weekend.

Because that’s who he is.

How to Turn Things Around

We’ll get into more details about talents, interests, and purpose in future posts, but for now, just start somewhere. Decide to stand for something. Give yourself permission to trust your vision and to make decisions.

By starting with what you know—your sense of what you really want to build—you’ll create a much clearer and more compelling target to start moving toward. That target will help keep you focused and engaged, as well as keep you from reactively chasing “better” opportunities.

Trust the process, and know that the vision for your business will evolve and self-organize over time. It will certainly look different than where you started. But no matter how much you iterate over the long-term, staying proactive and intentional will help ensure that the business you build is the business you were really born to build.

In the next post, we’ll explore how to develop a positioning strategy—that sweet spot between your strengths and the needs of your market—so you can set yourself apart from the competition.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: