Your Passion will not Make You Money, But it is the Only Reason to have a Business

by Ann Foley (Flickr Creative Commons License)

If you work just for money, you’ll never make it, but if you love what you’re doing and you always put the customer first, success will be yours.
~ Ray Kroc

In building my business, I feel that there has been a transition point. The transition happened when I made a shift in my mind about how I saw my business. When I had started out, I treated it as a passion project rather than a business. Now, I see it a little differently. It still involves the things that I am passionate about, but I also realize it is a business. Passion, though necessary, is only one part of it.

If you want to build something of your own and make money from it, you are building a business. So, the first thing that I had to come to terms with is the fact that my passion project was not making me money. Initially, I thought that my business had failed. It was a horrible feeling. Six months of putting in four hours of work everyday, over and above the regular eleven hour job, and I ended with nothing! In hindsight, it was probably a necessary failure. It gave me the opportunity to hit reset and rebuild my project as a business. In the process I realized a few things that I’d like to share with you.

Building a business is a slow process
From the moment when I decided to build my own business, I could barely wait to get started. But, starting is not the same as having a business. Building a business takes time. Considering that it took me four years to earn my engineering degree, one year to be made a full time employee, and three years to realize that my corporate career was going nowhere. Why should building my own business be any different? Just because it didn’t work out in six months doesn’t mean that it won’t in one year, or two. I am going to give it time to flourish because the result is not in my control. However, I will work my ass off for whatever time it takes to make it a successful business.

To quit or not to quit: The income factor
The biggest road block I have to deal with is my day job. It has severely limited real world application.  After all, how many people or small companies would say, “Hmm. I think I should build a car. Develop it from scratch in four years, mass produce it, and sell it to millions.” There is no common ground between my job skills and the business I want to build. The biggest problem though, is that the job has no more scope for growth and the work is not fulfilling. So, when I started building my business I wanted to earn all my income from the business. I still do, but I know it’s not happening tomorrow, or next week, or even next month. That’s the difference between a job and a business. Steady stream of below average income vs unpredictable spurts of disproportionate income. Even though I am frustrated with my job and want to quit right away, I realize that if my business doesn’t yield the results I want, I must have a source of income in the transition phase between quitting my job and my own business paying off. I will do whatever it takes to prevent working just for the money. Keeping that in mind, I decided to quit my job either by September (by which time I’ll have saved enough to live on zero income for one whole year) or when I’ve made $500 for three consecutive months. Whichever comes first.

Being passionate is not the same as running a business
I am passionate about quite a few things other than writing and blogging. Like automobiles, video games, adventure sports, fantasy fiction. I can (and sometimes do) spend a six to eight doing nothing except one single activity that I’m passionate about. Can I turn any of them into money making venture? Yes. Do I want to deal with business aspects of doing so? Not right now. For e.g., I love adventure sports. I would like nothing more than than to spend a whole week doing only canyoning, bungee, rappelling, etc. But, I do not want to spend months or years running around to get permits and certifications, raising capital, finding people to employ, setting up transportation and accommodation solutions for an outdoor adventure camp business. Enjoying adventure sports is not the same as being an adventure sport activities business.
In the few months that I’ve spent building my business, I found that the 80/20 rule applies to it in a different way. I spend 80% of my time and effort working on the business aspects, and only 20% on the things that I’m passionate about. The goal is to make it 80/20 in favor of passion. But, until I get to a business model that works ans start making money, it will be 80/20 in favor of business. Maybe, that’s why it is called building a business.

Having said all that, what it all comes down to is this. My passion is all about me. It is what drives me, excites me, and fuels my fire. My business, on the other hand, has almost nothing to do with me. It is all about my clients or customers. They do not want my service offering, they need their problems solved. The holy grail of having a successful business is translating a passion into a service offering that focuses on the needs of the customer or client. And, then packaging and marketing it to them so that they pay for the value it offers them. I don’t have all the details down yet, but I’m willing to stumble and learn along the way. Have you ever run into a block, trying to convert your passion into a business? Let me know in the comments.


5 thoughts on “Your Passion will not Make You Money, But it is the Only Reason to have a Business

  1. great post! i aspire to become an entrepreneur and open my own health business. i love inspiring business articles, i look forward to reading more!

    • Thanks for reading and appreciating. Building a business around your passion can be challenging but loads of fun too. I look forward to see people like you spread awareness about healthy living through their own businesses. Best of luck!

  2. Makes sense Debashish. I like the example you’ve given about putting 4 years of engineering + 1 with a ‘not permanent’ status at work before you started as a permanent. And the 80-20 to 20-80 transition, I think is a fantastic way to approach things. Thank you.

  3. Good luck with the business. Your point about passions being different from business has some truth. But what about having a passion for business? This makes me think that in order to have a successful business, you need to have your passion in a creative field, but also a passion for business building. Put another way, the measure of the love of your field includes how much you want to do the grunt work. Again, good luck, I know what it’s like trying to work on your thing after a 9-5 job.

    • Thanks. I agree that one can have a passion for building a business. But, no one can know that until they have built a couple of businesses. A passion for business building is just another way of saying that you have a passion to help other people and make a difference in the world. Like you said, the measure of that passion is how willing are you to do the grunt work for it.


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