When it comes to business should you follow your passion? My dad always use to say “pursue your passion and the rest will follow”. It’s cliché I know and we hear it over and over, but is it true? It certainly wasn’t true for Vincent van Gogh, Emily Dickinson or Henry David Thoreau.
All them pursued their passions and died penniless in relative obscurity. The only reason we know about them today is that someone “discovered” them after their deaths and placed a value on their work. You could say what the three artists had in common were the inability to develop relationships with others and poor marketing skills. Ironically, those are the two killers of small businesses that still exist today.
Is Your Passion Enough?
Let’s say you do have some social skills and understand the basics of marketing, is your passion enough to fuel a business? Categorically, the answer is no. Passion is certainly a component of a successful business, but your business can’t be built on passion alone.
This is a very dangerous and slippery slope. When you let your passion for something fuel your business you enter into a single channel mindset. You will see and understand what you want and not what your audience is telling you. We have all been in a situation where we hear only the parts we want. Our minds shut out the clues that there is a disconnect or an issue.
The funny thing is, business isn’t about you, it’s about serving a customer. So while you may go into business because of your passion and expertise on a particular topic, that simply will not bring profit to you.
Here is a very seemingly absurd example to highlight my point. My son is 4 years old, he is an only child and I am very passionate about him. As far as I am concerned I have done an amazing job bringing him up and he is as perfect as any little boy could be.
Now I have an undeniable passion for my son, and I am the sole expert in the world in his upbringing. However, there is likely not going to be a market for my passion and expertise no matter how enthusiastic I am about it – maybe my mom would be interested in learning more about my child rearing methods, but probably not.
If I choose only to follow my passion and ignore my audience, I will not make a single dime. Not to mention the tone of my passion is borderline obnoxious and off-putting right? The enthusiasm your pour into your business is utterly meaningless if at the end of the day you aren’t offering a product or service that your customer wants, needs or desires.
Passion That is Profitable
Now how can my subject matter expertise be turned around? Well for one, I need to put aside the mirror because I am not the audience. The first thing I would need to do is find out what other single moms are struggling with and figure out how I can take my success and passion as a single mom to help them. The second thing I would need to do is figure out what I have to offer that would satify their wants, needs or desires.
So in this way, my passion is fueling the business idea – helping single moms raise boys into successful men and my expertise will guide my methods. In looking back over what I have done right and wrong, I could create a video series or a membership group to instruct moms in bringing up young boys. This would require a bit of research as well, but I think you get the idea?
Passion versus Business
Passion by itself is not a reason to go into business and if it’s the only reason you have, then I would strongly discourage you from moving forward. Small businesses are a service industry. If you are not good interacting or empathizing with others, and you are not cognitively flexible, you will not succeed. I think nursing’s ability to empathize with patients and families make us absolute natural business owners for this sole reason.
Your nursing business needs to be about serving others. Anything else is a hobby.
When you are thinking of a business idea, it’s a good idea to allow your passion to provide the general direction of where you are going. You will be spending a lot of time in your topic area, so you need to have a passion for it! But then you need to focus on a paradigm shift away from your passion and listen to your audience. Remember no one cares about you offer, they care about what you can do for them.
Another point about passion that I would like to make is that we all may have multiple passions, but not all of them are sensible business decisions. I may be passionate about saving children, vacationing in the Caribbean, eating healthy and working with students, but they are not all equal in the eyes of business.
When you start your business analysis, weigh the pros and cons of each business concept that you are thinking of. You may realize quite quickly that in order to make an impression in one space could be extremely risky or high priced, whereas another one of your passions makes more business sense. This is where you let passions guide you but not control you.
At the end of the day, you need to be separate from your business. Allow the potential profit and the potential costs of any business be the dictator of which passion you decide to pursue. I can still vacation in the Caribbean, eat healthy and save the children of the world as separate passions of mine, but my passion to teach others is not only a better business fit, it made more financial sense.
What are your passions and how could you use them to solve a problem for someone else? Let me know in the comments!