Just as I was typing up a blog post on how to create a business around your passion and purpose, I came across an article on Entrepreneur.com saying the EXACT OPPOSITE. That the last thing you should do is turn your passion into a business.
Well this article got me so riled up that I set aside my original blog for a later day and decided to just write a direct response to Carol Roth and her unfortunate article.
***First let me say, that I totally believe the author is entitled to her opinion. She clearly feels passionately about this, and her message resonates with a lot of creatives struggling to make their businesses a success. It just hurts my heart to see people struggle and be told that it's because they have passion and want to use it to make the world a better place. It hurts because this is my WHY, to help people who are struggling find a way to thrive! I would love to sit down and chat with her about her thoughts behind the article. I bet we would find lots of things we agree on. That being said, I feel compelled to give an alternate viewpoint on this incredibly important issue.
If you want to read the article first, or follow along, you'll find it here.
1. "You’ll do less of what you love to do."
First of all that depends on if you work such long hours right now that you have ZERO time to do what you love (I know this happens because this was me for 10 years).
But the deeper issue with this statement is that it's not about the WHAT in your business, it's about the WHY. The REASON you are in business is what is so important. If you love baking because it's yummy and relaxing, then yes, maybe it should stay a hobby. But if you are passionate about saving and sharing with the world a tradition of baking passed down for generations, or if you believe that paleo, vegan, or gluten free options should be available to everyone, then you SHOULD start a business. (And let me be clear. I don't mean just say you believe it because it makes a nice background story for your shop. You actually need to gut-level BELIEVE that what you do makes a difference in the world).
As this article says, successful businesses solve problems. But success is not just about making money. It's about the end result, the difference you make in the lives of your customers. The better options you provide in the marketplace that wouldn't be there without you. And the purpose and fulfillment it brings in your own life. That's what makes all the hard work and the late nights totally worthwhile!
2. Passion doesn’t pay the bills.
I disagree with pretty much everything in section 2. Roth says here that, "No amount of following your passion helps you to hire great employees. Passion doesn’t necessarily translate into finding customers. Passion doesn’t create systems to streamline your operations."
This would be funny if it weren't such a systematic belief spread throughout most of corporate America. Quite the opposite is true. Getting focused on your WHY absolutely helps solve all those problems. You want to hire capable employees who also believe in your business and the reason behind it, right?! And I could talk for days on how important it is to be extremely clear about the Problem and your Unique Solution before you even start looking for potential customers. How else will you narrow down your efforts from "all customers" to "those who really need and want exactly what I have to offer" ???
And, lastly, FOCUSED = STREAMLINED. Knowing exactly why your business exists helps you to narrow down you efforts and stop wasting time throwing things at the wall and waiting for something to stick.
3. You can extinguish the flame.
"Passions are great because they are whimsical and fantastical."
Wow! Yep, she just said that. Passions are "whimsical and fantastical." Is it whimsical to think that children deserve to have a childhood full of imagination or that people who have trouble sleeping could find a lavender cream that helps them rest more easily? The list goes on and on and on...... Passion is defined as "strong and barely controllable emotion." Something that you believe in so deeply that you just HAVE to make it happen. That is not fantasy. THAT is the best reality we could hope for!
And to her next point, Yes, we ABSOLUTELY need Balance in our lives, but I'm assuming that, as a creative, you have more than one outlet for relaxation. If not, then ok preserve that. But if you know how to read a book or take a walk or listen to music, then I think you'll still be able to relax after a long day at your creative business.
Besides all this, Balance and Grounding are a totally separate (yet important) issue. You will need to learn this important life skill no matter if you work for yourself or someone else.
And, Oh My Goodness. Businesses aren't magical? Um..... Apple, Disney, Pixar, to name a few big ones, not to mention all the small shops that add light and positive energy to the world.
(I can't even get into the sentence about hobbies being just escapism....... that is a discussion for another day!)
4. Successful businesses aren’t about you -- or your passion!
As crazy as that title is, I totally agree that you MUST be able to Realize a problem and find a unique solution. But YOU can be the person to do that! It's NOT just a concept allowed for big corporations and startups with lots of cash!
Next, we may have more products and services in the world now, but most of those companies don't actually care about the customer or provide real answers to life's deeper issues of finding true wellness, abundance, balance, peace, contentment, etc.
And why is that?
Because people keep listening to this same advice that the point is to find the problems and provide the solutions that will make lots of money!
We don't need more products that will make companies big money. We need products that MEAN something! And we need business owners who realize that running after money is not the only way to be happy. As an entrepreneur, you are going to work a lot of hours. You need more than just dollars to make all that time truly worth it!
And FINALLY, apparently to her fulfillment is "indulging your wants and needs."
Well no wonder we disagree!
I believe fulfillment comes from using your unique abilities to make a lasting difference, to bring good into the world, and to leave behind a legacy you can be truly proud of.
You choose which of those definitions you prefer, then decide which of us to listen to.
If you want the easy way out, please don't start a business. But if you want to find purpose and fulfillment, while using your unique creative talents, then create a powerful, meaningful business. I can totally help you with that!
If not, then she might be right, you might find yourself struggling to figure out how to have success and fulfillment at the same time. Using Big Corporation's business strategies is NOT the best way to run a small business. You are unique. Your situation is unique. Your solutions to problems are unique. Your business plan must be unique too.
Passion, hard work, and determination are the ingredients for a successful creative business, without all of those, the recipe is bound to fall flat!
Lots of love to everyone who read both these articles! I believe in you and your ability to find what is right for your life. If you'd like some help, I'm here for you.
P.S. You can learn more about how to create a successful business YOUR WAY in this recent blog post.