Have you heard many stories like this one: Woman quits her job to pursue her passion of teaching yoga, goes broke? Sadly these type of stories are far too common, and the reason why is a combination of two factors that are prevalent in our culture today. These two factors combine to create some toxic advice and bad road maps for many people:
- Follow Your Passion
- Just Jump!
Follow Your Passion
This advice has been prevalent throughout the last 30+ years of the self-help industry. Countless books and articles have been written extolling the virtues of only pursuing work which you are exceptionally passionate about. Well, as our friend Michael Bolton points out, that isn’t always your best option: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wu2HhlTEHMc
The seemingly virtuous path of pursuing your passion has led to scores of failed businesses where the owner just can’t figure out what went wrong. They have started a business they’re passionate about, they’ve invested their savings, time, and energy into making it great, they scratch and claw to help their business survive, but they just can’t seem to make it work. Quickly, they’re becoming another example of why 75% of small businesses fail. What these “passion” owners don’t realize is they got bunk advice from the start – PASSION IS NOT ENOUGH.
If you’ve spent any time reading about the life of an entrepreneur, you’ve surely heard some version of an anecdote that goes like this: “I walked into work on Tuesday, I walked straight into my boss’ office and quit on the spot. Wednesday we started XYZ Partners and we’ve been going like gangbusters ever since.”
While these people and these situations do happen from time to time, it is far from the norm, and anyone who thinks otherwise is doing themselves a disservice. The truth of the matter is most entrepreneurs don’t have the luxury of quitting whatever job they’re in now; most small businesses start as a side job or “side hustle”. Walking away from your 9-5 job and leaving behind the steady paycheck, benefits, or health insurance isn’t always your best choice (not to mention the access to vital office supplies). In today’s economy it is fully possible to maintain your full-time job while you build your business on the side; so that when you’re ready to make the leap you’ve already got a system up and running that is generating income for you and your business – you’ve got a safety net built in.
So what do I do?
Having a business you’re passionate about IS important – and at some point you will have to make the leap and invest yourself fully in making your new business work – but you’ve got to work smarter if you want to build something that is truly going to last. From day one you have to understand that the structure and the systems you build within your business are your safety net, they are how you ensure the business will be there for you for years and decades to come. You’ve got to start with that – not just passion – if you want to build a business that will last.
Your passion should be focused on building and sustaining your business – the product or service you provide doesn’t have to be the actual embodiment of your “passion”; but you need to find passion in the work that you’re doing. It is much more important to find something that works, that earns money, and that you can sustain for the long term.
Once you’ve got the frameworks in place – you’ve got to hustle, work hard, and dedicate your time and energy to making this thing work; even it is isn’t full-time at first. Getting your side business up and running is a crucial step for most entrepreneurs in today’s economy. Once you get to a point that the side business is generating sufficient income for you and your family, you can look at making the jump into that business full-time. This isn’t to say you need to get your business up to $80k/year before you make the switch – you just need to be at a point where you have measurable returns for your time invested and know that the additional time you put in will generate the income you need to move forward.
While it isn’t easy, ignoring the ubiquitous “Follow your passion & just jump” advice merchants will pay major dividends if you can manage it. While we’d all kill to build a business around an idea we love (a brewery on a beach somewhere sounds nice) we have to understand the realities we’re faced with today, and focus our entrepreneurial efforts where we can make the greatest return.
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