Why “Following Your Passion” Is Bad Advice for Starting a Business
This article was originally published on Small Business Ideas Blog — http://www.smallbusinessideasblog.com/passion-business
A common piece of advice that I hear frequently for people wanting to start their own business is to “follow your passion”.
This piece of advice has become popular for several reasons.
First of all, people want to believe that running their own business will not only be highly profitable, but also fun.
Secondly, when doing something for a long period of time, it makes it much easier and sustainable if the process is enjoyable.
However, to understand why this can be dangerous advice, we should first look at the definition of passion.
According to dictionary.com, passion is defined as follows:
“any powerful or compelling emotion or feeling, as love or hate”
The problem with passion is that “passion” is an emotion. And emotions eventually fade. Emotions are temporary, but businesses require ongoing execution to survive.
Running a business requires perspective and sustainability. And truth be told, while some parts of running a business are enjoyable, there are probably other aspects you may not enjoy.
So why else is “following your passion” not the best advice for business and what should we do instead?
1. Place the Needs of Others in Front of Your Own
Ultimately, building a profitable business is not about you. It’s about servicing the needs of your customers or solving someone else’s problems.
Are there people who “followed their passion” and launched successful businesses?
Absolutely! And if you can do that, then great.
But if you haven’t taken the time to research and evaluate the need of your product or service with the market, then you’re taking a big risk.
Your customers decide if your business will succeed by voting with their wallets.
So while we can pursue our passion, it would probably be in our best interest to evaluate the needs of other first.
2. Choose Sustainable Interest over Passion
Passions can change over time. After doing anything for a period of time, people will naturally become bored and want to try something else.
However, consistency is required to successfully run a business.
In the Philadelphia area, for example, some of the top salsa instructors that became well known for their teaching skills eventually hired other people to teach. A friend of mine who use to teach dance got tired of it and decided to quit after successfully running his own studio for many years and pursue other interests.
That’s why relying on passion is dangerous for business. Instead choose to focus on an interest that is sustainable over time.
3. Fall in Love with Boredom
Finally, running a successful business requires systems, processes and repetition. While passion may cause a person to start a business, successful business owners quickly realize that a good amount of the execution involves repetitive and systematic execution.
Finding out what works, scaling it and repeating it is the key to success.
Less successful entrepreneurs are constantly chasing the next “shiny object”. If you want to be successful in business, you might be better off “falling in love with boredom” rather than constantly “pursuing passion”.
Create systems and processes that work and repeat them.
The Ideal Solution
The reason that following your passion is such popular advice is because if you are going to do something long term, then it should ideally be something you enjoy.
However, in reality, not all the things that you will need to do in business are enjoyable. For many people, the list of tasks include accounting, sales, marketing and administrative work.
Nevertheless, doing tasks you don’t enjoy will drain you of energy. So here’s the ideal solution to starting your own business.
1. List out business ideas that have a proven need. Then find one that aligns with your interests
Evaluating the market for your product or services is more important than following your passion.
However, at the same time, creating a business where you can pursue your own interests is important as well. Doing tasks that aren’t interesting can drain you of energy and motivation over the long term.
List out business ideas that are likely to serve the needs of others. Then pick one that aligns with your own strengths and interests.
2. Outsource or automate tasks you don’t enjoy
Your business will always require some tasks that you don’t enjoy doing. When you start out, you may be willing to do everything yourself, but eventually doing tasks that you don’t enjoy will drain you of energy and lower the overall productivity of your business.
Therefore, as soon as possible, you should outsource or automate tasks that you don’t enjoy. Any task can be automated with people or computers, although some higher level tasks will be more difficult.
Find other people that enjoy doing these tasks and have them work on them so that you can focus on the tasks that you are good at.
3. Consider partnering with someone that complements your skill set
A lot of entrepreneurs are afraid of partnerships, but having a business partner can have many benefits, particularly if you partner with someone that has a skill set that you lack.
For example, one of the most well known partnerships is Bill Gates and Paul Allen of Microsoft. Paul Allen was more known for being the idea person, while Bill Gates was the action taker.
What tasks need to be done for your business to succeed? For many people, sales and marketing are tasks that are not enjoyable but still need to be done. So partnering with someone that focus on sales and marketing might be a good idea so that you can focus on operations.
So what do you think? How important is “passion” in business?