Come one! It can’t be that simple.
I do believe following a passion can be a healthy pursue as it often leads to self awareness and a sense of aliveness. What concerns me is the fact that the modern “Prophets of Passion” rarely, if ever, provide context to their advise. Every person is at a different stage of their lives. Hence, each person’s context varies a great deal.
For instance, let’s assume a person is contemplating starting a business which is fuelled by his/her passion. There are many factors involved in building a successful and sustainable business. We’d have to be naive to think that passion alone guarantees success. Starting and running a successful business requires a set of very specific skills and knowledge, such as: how to build/create a product others want to buy; how to understand and master your market; how to sell your products and/or services; how to manage your finances and stay cash flow positive; how to build, coordinate and motivate a team; how to market your product cheaply and effectively; etc… Sure you can learn all of those things as you go, but don’t ignore there is a learning curve.
Running a successful business is more about solving a problem someone else has than it’s about following a passion. Surely if you got a passion for business and/ or if what you love doing solves a real problem, great! There are higher chances of success. However, putting your passion before customers wants and needs as well as ignoring if your market is ready to pay you to have its problem solved won’t get you very far.
In business, it’s not about what you want. It’s about what your customers/prospect want.
I know this may sound elementary, but I’ve seen many with the false impression that following a passion is all that matters. The rationale is that things will magically unfold, the universe will conspire in our favour, money will pour from the sky, customers will line up to buy our products, etc.
Just like it ever happens. I acknowledge there is a dose of serendipity and attraction which comes from believing strongly on something, but without the right set of skills, this kind of thinking it’s unsustainable.
How does passion help in Business?
In a business context, passion will:
- help you believe success is possible, so you’ll be more dedicated to making things happen
- inspire and motivate you and your team to go the extra mile
- help you be more convincing when selling or ‘pitching’ your ideas to others
- help you overcome hurdles or challenges as they come
- give you a competitive edge.
Passion is critical, but it’s definitely not everything.
When to follow a passion?
If your intention is following a passion as a hobby or even as part-time business, anytime really. Just go for it! Hobbies are very healthy and fulfilling. A part-time business is a great way to learn via experimentation.
However, if your goal is to pursue it as full time venture, hold on! The reality is that not everyone is in the position to make that shift. If you are ready to leave your day job in the pursuit of your passion, I’d recommend – don’t!
At least not yet.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not trying to discourage you. Just asking you to be a bit more strategic about it. Experiment, learn, risk manage and make more educated decisions.
There 4 very important questions everyone should ask before committing to a passion full-time:
Q1. Am I in control of my finances?
If you can’t be in control of your personal finances, you’ll never be in control of your business finances as it’s heaps more complex.
One of the main reasons small businesses fail is due to poor management of cash. Remember money is fuel. Run out of fuel and the engine stops. You will be pretty much the only person who will function without it. Your suppliers and team will not care much about how passionate you are if you can’t paid them. Also, if you have a family, wife/husband and kids specially, things won’t be pretty when you can’t pay your bills.
The amount of money you will need will vary according to your family status, lifestyle and the nature of the business.
You need to be in control of your finances
Run out of money and watch a passion turn into desperation.
If managing your money is not one of your strengths, I’d recommend speaking to a buddy who is great at managing his/hers and asking for advise. Ask your friend to help you put together a dashboard of some sort to help you navigate your finances at ease. If you feel you are ready to start your business, make sure you budget to have an accountant and bookkeeper.
The key of being in control of your finances is to constantly measure your money and to stay cash flow positive. When the subject is money, don’t make emotional decisions. Be as rational as you can be. As much as I wished it wasn’t true, the lack of money will affect every other area of your life (health, relationship, etc).
Measure your money. Stay cash flow positive. Take control of your finances.
Q2. Is there a Full Time Income in it?
People are passionate about all sort of crazy things. It’s a common mistake, often a result of bad advise, to leave stable work in pursuit of living a life of passion without knowing how you are going to make a living from it or even if it’s humanly possible to do so. This is a huge, huge mistake.
Keep your day job. Experiment making money from your passion before taking the leap.
Be very clear there is a full time career or business in your passion. Do not pursue a it full time if it is only a hobby.
- how will I make money from it?
- how much money do I need to make?
- what is my business model?
- do similar businesses exist?
- if so, what kind of business and revenue model do they have?
Put together a realistic sales budget. Try not to be overly confident as it will backfire.
The best way to go about it, in my opinion, is to start small. Learn how to make your first $100, then add another zero ($1,000) followed by two ($10,000).
Learn to run promotions. Start by offering your product/service to FFFs (friends, fools and family). It not only allows you to test your concept, but it helps you develop your sales skills.
Don’t assume you will sell thousands without experience. Unless you are a natural sales person, it is very unlikely to happen.
For service based businesses, the rule of thumb is selling a minimum of $2,000 to each customer per year (may be more depending on the business), if your price is only a couple of hundred dollars or less, revisit your product, pricing and promotional strategy.
Consider your sales costs. Consider your sales and marketing expenses. Every new customer costs you money. You must know how much that cost is.
Approach your quest to follow your passion in the same way a professional sportsperson approaches the game he/she plays. Understand the game you are about to play. Your technical skills and passion are only a part of it.
If your goal is simply doing what you love and all of the above sounds to complicated you have two options:
1. stay as an amateur: there is nothing wrong with that. However, you must understand professionals and amateurs compete in completely different arenas. As a professional, you must perform. As an amateur, playing is enough.
2. find yourself a business partner: I’d recommend finding someone with a passion for business who is talented and experienced.
Q3. Do I have the support I need?
Do not make the mistake of being the lone ranger on a mission. It’s very unlikely to work. Following a passion on a full time basis is a big deal. The lack of support will discourage you. It will break your heart.
If your husband, wife, mum, dad, friend, dog… and anyone else who is close to you think you are crazy, you probably are! But who cares, we are all crazy. Chances are you will find a bit, or a lot, of resistance from those around you. However, don’t make this a “us against them” game. It’s childish and usually a sign you are not prepared to do this full time.
Don’t fight, argue or become angry with those around you if they are not supporting you. Listen to what they have to say and learn from it. Feedback is always welcome.
You can’t change your friends and relatives. You can’t convince them you are on the right track either. The good news is that you don’t have to. Just respect their opinion and move on. Remember not many people in the world have the courage to step up, trust their intuition and pursue their passions. Also, remember very few people around you will share a similar passion.
Thus, it’s very important to find those who are your type of crazy, those who share a similar passion, as their support will be critical.
Our environment has a huge impact on our behaviour. You want to be surrounded by those who believe with you.
So, before you embark on a full time journey, find a new tribe. See if you get along. See if you feel ‘at home’. Ask yourself whether you’d want to be a part of this tribe. Whether it makes you happier.
You may find the support you need from professional coaches, mentors and other advisors. I find it’s often the best support available.
Also, get ready to say bye-bye to some people you have in your life. You want to stay away from those who suck your energy away. You will need all the energy available to you if you want to make it work.
Do not embark on a full time venture before finding and connecting with people who can support you. You will need support. We all need support. If you don’t have it, find it.
Q4. Do I have the stamina?
Things are not going to happen overnight. It’s likely that you will fail, a lot. So, do you have the stamina to persist?
What will you do once the excitement is gone? Because it will. Are you willing to put in the hard work necessary to make it work? Can you put in the work day in and day out even if you are not getting the results expected?
Are you willing to do things you are not so passionate about in the early stages? Can you handle long hours? Can you handle the pressure?
Passion is most certainly a ‘spring’ towards bigger and more exciting things, but don’t rush into dropping everything and running towards the magic rainbow. Do your homework. Experiment with your ideas. Connect with those more experienced than you. Learn and get better before committing full time.
At last, I recommend some physical activity and a balanced diet. As I say before, you will need all energy you can get.
Take care of your body. Take care of your mind.
Things are not going to happen overnight. Be willing and ready to persist until it does. Don’t just follow your passion. Sit with it. Learn from it. Tame it.
Hopefully, you found this post useful.
I’d appreciate if you added your 2 cent bellow. I know this may be a controversial topic, so I am interested to hear your thoughts.