I recently read an article on Entrepreneur.com titled Don’t Follow Your Passion: 4 Reasons Why Making a Business Out of Something You Love Is a Mistake. I really encourage you to read that article as well. While the article had a lot of good points, which should be carefully considered before following your passion, I disagree with the overall premise of the article. Here is a counter to that article, and my take on why you should build a business on something you love.
You’ll do more of what you love to do
The Entrepreneur article suggested that when you open a business you have to run the business. Meaning that you need to be a “jack of all trades” in your role as an entrepreneur. True, there will be things outside the scope of your passion that will need to be done. But I’d suggest outsourcing the things that you aren’t passionate about.
For example, if you are passionate about designing websites it makes sense that you’d open a website design business. It’s true that the marketing, accounting, payroll, customer service, and other administrative tasks are ultimately your responsibility. That doesn’t mean that you need to be in the trenches working on those things day in and day out. Outsource the things that you aren’t passionate about – or even aren’t good at.
This will give you more time to do the things you love than you would if you worked for someone else. After all, when you’re working for someone else you have to do what they tell you to do. When you work for yourself, you can be pickier about the projects you take on.
Have you ever been greeted by a receptionist who looked like they were bored out of their minds?
If you have, you probably didn’t take that person too seriously. On the other hand what if that receptionist had “the fire” in them for whatever it is they were representing. They could sell a ketchup popsicle to a woman in white gloves with the enthusiasm that comes from their passion.
The Entrepreneur article says that no matter how passionate you are, it doesn’t pay your bills. While that is true, it certainly helps sell yourself, your product, or your service.
Passion doesn’t go away
This is where I think the author of the Entrepreneur article is misguided. In the article, the author says that “nothing can extinguish the flame of passion faster than having to earn a living from that passion”. The author seems to be confusing a “thing you like to do” (a hobby) with something you are truly passionate about.
I like to golf. It’s relaxing, and it’s an escape for me. It’s a thing I like to do – a hobby.
If I needed to earn a living from golfing though, I’d be broke. Golfers don’t get paid unless they are really good. I’m just not passionate enough to put the time in to learn how to be the best there is. If my next meal depended on my golf game I’d soon grow to hate golf. So, I would never make any money from golfing (unless you know a guy who’s willing to pay for a nasty slice).
A passion, on the other hand, is something that doesn’t fade. If you’re passionate about something, you will take the time to learn how to improve your skills. You’ll want to be the best – you might even already be the best.
Businesses require grunt work
Any business is going to require grunt work. You will likely need to log long hours, nights, weekends, and even holidays especially when you’re starting out. You’re also the boss and can make the decision as to whether or not that grunt work gets done – or when it gets done. If you’re not doing something that you’re passionate about you won’t choose to do the grunt work and your business will fail.
Being passionate about the business you’re in will help when you need to stay in the office late or forego weekend plans to take care of business.
Be true to yourself
Before you build a business on something you love, you need to do a little soul searching. Ask yourself a few questions to determine if starting this business is right for you.
Is this something you are really passionate about, or is this just a hobby you enjoy doing?
How do you know whether or not something is a passion or a hobby?A passion is something you'll make sacrifices for. Build a business around that passion. Click To Tweet
A hobby is something that’s done outside of your normal profession, which is usually done for relaxation. Think, reading, gardening, exercise, etc.
Passions are not meant to be relaxing. A passion is something that you’re obsessed with. You stress about its failures, and you celebrate its successes. It keeps you up at night. A passion is something you’re willing to sacrifice for in order to keep doing it.
Can you sell your passion? I don’t mean are you a good salesperson (although that helps). Perhaps a better way to phrase the question: is there a market for your passion?
If your passion is putting together jigsaw puzzles, chances are people won’t pay much for you to complete the puzzles for them. At least, they wouldn’t pay much more than the original puzzle costs in the first place, and as a business, it wouldn’t be sustainable. Perhaps you can find a handful of people that would pay $100 for a nicely framed puzzle so they can brag to their friends about how they completed it. But puzzle making is not an overly profitable venture.
What makes you unique?
If your passion is taking pictures, you can certainly find start a business as a photographer. But with nearly everyone having a camera on their smartphone these days, what will make you different? Is there something special about your photographs that people would pay for?
Think about a wedding photographer. Anyone with a camera can take pictures at a wedding – that’s nothing special. A good wedding photographer will be able to sell their services by capturing memories. They will know how to capture that look on the bride’s face when her husband says “I do”. It’s a look that only lasts for a moment, and then is gone forever. They may also have a team of photographers who will be positioned in different locations so that they don’t miss a moment.
Those are things that set a photographer apart.
What about you? How can you offer your passion in a unique way?
Build a business on something you love
What is it that you will sacrifice for? What is it that you daydream about doing while at work, or rush home from work to do? That’s your passion.
You’re going to be consumed by it anyway, so why not make a living doing it?