Starting a Business: Do not Follow Your Passion, but if you Must, Make these 3 Decisions.
Hey there, Freedom Seekers!
This is number five of our series of live videos and articles. This series centers around starting the right business for you so that you can launch it on a rock-solid foundation to get to profit faster and, as a result, live a life you love sooner. The first stage of starting the right business is doing the research: both internal and external research. As with the last four articles, we continue exploring the internal research you must undertake before starting or buying any business. Here I am going to debunk a common belief. That’s the belief that if you start a business in a field related to your passion, you will succeed. Sorry to disappoint, but this is generally terrible advice unless you commit to three decisions. Before I share these three decisions, let’s discuss why following your passion for a hobby, an activity, or a career is not the best way to succeed with a business whose main purpose is to let you build a life you love.
Foremost, let’s keep in mind a fundamental assumption in this discussion. It is the assumption that you seek to start a business that will be the vehicle to a bigger purpose; the purpose of building a life you love and, yes, it includes, among other priorities, making serious money because it will be a scalable business that can operate without your direct input. This excludes micro-businesses that are solo-operated such as being a self-employed consultant or an artist with no employees. Generally, these are businesses don’t create scalable streams of revenue because they are inherently limited by the hours a solopreneur can work. Hence to successfully create a scalable business from your passion, there are three decisions you must make.
The main issue with turning a passion such as a hobby or a career into a business is their contradictory purpose. A passion is something you love to engage in while a business seeks to engage others in your hobby or career. In addition, the object of your passion, even if it is viable as your career, does not mean it is a viable business idea for you.
You might love to garden, golf, hike, paint, race cars, ski, travel, etc. Ask yourself: what makes you love your hobby and crave the time when you can enjoy it? Is it because it relaxes you, de-stresses you, stimulates your curiosity, makes you feel grounded or inspires you? Consider what your hobby does for you and question if that will still be true when it becomes a business. Will you still feel relaxed, de-stressed, grounded, or inspired if you attach a profit and loss (P & L) statement to it?
You could also be passionate about your work and livelihood: teaching yoga, cutting hair, cooking, building houses, sculpting, researching, teaching STEM classes, repairing cars, etc., but it doesn’t mean that it’s the best way for you to succeed as a business owner. What you find rewarding in any of these careers will likely lose its appeal once in business for yourself because your new day-to-day activities will not be the same as your career’s. As a business owner you’ll need to assume an entirely new role, a new career actually, which might or might not be one you’ll be passionate about.
Imagine you are a yoga teacher who loves to both practice and teach yoga. Once you become the owner of a yoga studio, you’ll need to trade your yoga teacher hat for a business owner hat. If you want your business to give you freedom and flexibility, you’ll eventually have to give up teaching yoga classes. You might feel burdened by an owner’s day-to-day life, such as creating and enforcing systems, hiring and firing employees, monitoring financials, marketing, public speaking, networking, and other tasks required of any business owner. For example, as you grow the business, you might find that you dislike managing employees or independent contractors who are yoga teachers like yourself. If you don’t have management experience yet, you might struggle in requiring all staff members to follow the rules and systems set by you in your company. You can still practice yoga but teaching yoga will become a luxury that is no longer rewarding because it will compete with a multitude of business demands.
If you still want to turn your hobby, career, art, activity, or a cause that you are passionate about into a business, let’s now discuss what you’ll need to do to succeed.
1- Fire yourself.
Be prepared to let go of what you do in your hobby or your career. Before I launched my first business, a two-story spa with 50 employees, I greatly enjoyed visiting spas. But once I owned and operated a spa business, every spa visit became an unplanned competitive research project or a critical secret buyer’s mission. It was no longer relaxing or de-stressing. Soon I avoided weekend spa getaways.
If your passion is your career, you’ll need to replace yourself. Being an outstanding technician or a professional in your field of expertise does not make you an outstanding leader, which is the role you must embrace once you have a business. Having freedom and flexibility with your business requires scaling it by creating revenue streams that won’t require your direct input.
Many small businesses are started by technicians and professionals who love what they do and decide that they’ll be happier being their own boss. Soon, they learn that to succeed in business they must give up doing what they excel at doing and step outside their comfort zone by embracing multi-demand business ownership.
When you start your passion business, you won’t be able to create a life you love with that business unless you hire others to work with you. You will need to focus all your energy on growing your business. In addition to hiring others to produce revenues, and to support you in operations, consider also the creation of scalable revenue streams: e-commerce, digital products, subscriptions, memberships, machines, apps and that can be automated to eliminate your direct involvement. Spending your daytime as a revenue producer and your evenings and weekends operating, managing, and growing your business is a sure way to burn the candles at both ends. What’s the point in having a business if you end up neglecting your loved ones, your health, and your sanity… and your hobbies? That type of schedule is unlikely to give you a life you love in the long run. In his book, “The E-Myth,” Michael Gerber calls this the Entrepreneurial Myth. There are a few reasons many of us resist, consciously or not, trading our passion to run our business. The most common is that it is hard and humbling to navigate from being a super achiever in our field to being a newbie. For a while, we might not be great at being business owners. We’ll even make mistakes, some small, some bigger. For that reason, many new business owners exclaim: “This is a lot harder than I thought!” It is also the reason I advocate to first research, vet, and plan before launching any type of business. The reward of stepping outside of our comfort zone is that we grow by expanding our horizons. It is also the only way to grow your business.
However, with the right mindset, anyone can develop an interest in the art and science of running a small business and turn it into their new passion, which can become their purpose. I’ll discuss in another article why having a business driven by a purpose is a much better way to build a life we love.
2- Put blinders and a harness on your passion.
Another trap of a passion-driven business is losing objectivity and the temptation of fads, trends, and other shiny objects. Many passion-driven business owners experience this blind spot. The Greek philosopher Plato argues that passion requires mastery and discipline to control it when we humans seek achievement. Following our passion as a business means that we risk wasting resources on new trends and fads. While they might make complete sense for a hobbyist, they can be a distraction and a wasted business expense. We need to be diligent in screening these shiny objects by creating processes to validate how they fit our business model, vision, brand, and message. We must ensure that any trendy product that we introduce aligns with what our ideal customers need and expect from us.
3- Find a problem, an annoyance, an inconvenience.
There is one great advantage of turning a passion into a business. You probably know a lot more than the average person about that particular passion. As a result, you are well-positioned to identify problems that need to be solved in that field. In this case, it makes great sense to research that problem that no one or very few are solving. Then use that problem as the driver of your business creation by building a solution that your audience, who are other hobbyists who share this passion, will pay for. In stage two, the vetting stage of “Right Business Right Life Roadmap to Faster Profits,” in my online courses and coaching practice, we design a one-page business plan with nine building blocks to prove or disprove such problem-solving ideas before we build a business model.
These are our takeaways for today:
If you want to start the right business for you to have a life you love, don’t start one based on a passion, but if you will nonetheless, here’s are my recommendations to help you succeed.
• Decide to become passionate about the art and science of business ownership. I promise it is an awesome way to grow as a person. You’ll never run out of something new to learn. To have freedom and flexibility in your life, you’ll need to scale your passion-business which means eventually removing yourself from producing revenues as a direct contributor. Whenever possible, scale your business by hiring others and by exploring at least another scalable revenue stream to mitigate risks and have more freedom. Focus on business operations until that can be delegated too, and until leadership becomes your main responsibility.
• Be disciplined about vetting trends and fads before relying on them in your business. A trendy fad can derail your business from its mission. Instead of adding to proven sources of revenues it can divert income, cost money and time, and even damage your credibility among your audience.
• Use your deep knowledge to find a specific problem to solve for others who share this passion. And for that, use the one-page business plan to prove or disprove that the inconvenience, annoyance, or problem you plan on solving is real. Ensure that there is at least one segment of customers who are willing and able to pay for the solution you want to offer to them.
A passion is something we enjoy because it is fun. It is often temporary, and its longevity doesn’t typically fare well against the rigors of business ownership. What happens when fun becomes work and when work becomes drudgery? When it’s no longer a passion, it becomes a life we hate unless our passion is aligned with our purpose that our business can deliver. That’s a topic I look forward to sharing with you another day.
Until next time, cheers to living a life you love!
So if we haven’t met yet, I’m Patricia Bottero St-Jean. I’m a Start-a-Business Coach, founder of OPEN FOR BUSINESS, which is a business research lab and a coaching agency. I’m here to help you research, vet, plan, and launch the right business for you on a rock-solid foundation so that you can succeed faster.
Let me know in the comments and, or send me a direct message. What is stopping you from starting the right business for you so that you can have more freedom and flexibility. Until next time… cheers to living a life you love! Take care.