Don't Follow Your Passion: 4 Reasons Why Making a Business Out of Something You Love Is a Mistake
The best businesses don't care about you or your passions.
I may not be the world’s most romantic person, but I am definitely realistic. And in the realm of business, a healthy dose of realism is helpful, especially when the majority of businesses fail.
This means that I have to spend a lot of time countering the idea that you should follow your passion into business. Here are four reasons why you should not let your passion lead you into business ownership.
1. You’ll do less of what you love to do.
If you love to bake, you should open a bakery! If you love kids, you should open a nursery school! Everyone thinks that if you love to do something, by opening a business, you’ll get to do more of it. This couldn’t be further from the truth.
The reality is that when you open a business, you have to run the business. In doing so, you have to do and oversee many functions from marketing to accounting to handling employees to dealing with customer service and more.
So, the hard truth is, at the end of the day, you actually spend less time doing whatever it is you enjoy doing, whether it’s baking, spending time with children or otherwise.
Your responsibility as an entrepreneur is not to do one task -- it’s to run a business. If you are excited about wearing multiple hats and want to tackle the challenge of managing all aspects of an operation, and you think you’ve got the chops to do it, you’re headed in the right direction. But, your passion can lead you astray if you think that you will be spending your time focused on that one particular passion.
2. Passion doesn’t pay the bills.
No matter how passionate you are about a product, service, idea or otherwise, it doesn’t pay your bills and you can’t use it as a currency to buy things.
No amount of following your passion helps you to hire great employees. Passion doesn’t necessarily translate into finding customers. Passion doesn’t create systems to streamline your operations.
While you need to have a passion about the business to do those things, don’t think that relying on passion alone will get them done.
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3. You can extinguish the flame.
Passions are great because they are whimsical and fantastical. They add to your life and help make it complete.
But, nothing can extinguish the flame of passion faster than having to earn a living from that passion.
If you have something that you do to relieve stress or add joy to your life, do you want to have it pay for the food on your family’s table or pay your mortgage? Once you do that, it changes the entire nature of your relationship. Sometimes, work can be fun, but it’s called "work" t for a reason. Plus, we need time to relax and to create balance in our life.
Passions are magical, but businesses are not. Do you remember when Dorothy and the gang peered behind the curtain to find out that the Wizard of Oz wasn’t an all-powerful being, but rather, kind of a loser? Or, when you found out that Santa Claus wasn’t real? Or, when you figured out that your parents weren’t superheroes, just people with flaws?
It sucked, right? Our hobbies are about escapism. There is a bit of magic and fantasy in them. When you make that your business, you are privy to the nuts and bolts. That tempers the magic.
4. Successful businesses aren’t about you -- or your passion!
The most successful businesses happen when there’s an unmet need in the market -- some problem that needs to be solved -- and someone with the right set of experience, network and strategy tries to solve it at the right time.
Businesses are borne out of a market need. It doesn’t start with you.
We have more products and services available to us than we would ever want or need, which makes today’s entrepreneurial landscape very different than it was just 50 years ago. If there is a gap in the market that customers are desperate for a solution to and willing to pay for, that’s a darn good reason to start a business.
Following your passion is exactly the opposite. It’s about indulging your wants and needs to make you feel fulfilled.
If you want fulfillment, you may be better off with a hobby or a job than opening a business.
Carol Roth is the creator of the Future File™ legacy planning system, a “recovering” investment banker, business advisor, entrepreneur and best-selling author. She is also a reality TV show judge, media contributor and host of Microsoft’s Office Small Business Academy. A small business expert, Roth has worked with companies of all sizes on everything from strategy to content creation and marketing to raising capital. She’s been a public company director and invests in mid-stage companies, as well.