How To Run A Successful Business on Passion, Interrupted!

profitable online business

A famous quote says, “Follow your passion and success will follow.” And droves have been believing and following this advice and their passion for years now! The problem is that for some, this answer to the question ‘how to run a successful business‘, propels them forward with burning enthusiasm – at first – then eventually, peters out…and success doesn’t follow.


So the natural conclusion for many is to assume that passion is not all what it’s cracked up to be. Maybe it’s even harmful to your business success as it  masks what really needs to be done. Otherwise, how do you explain why so many don’t reach crazy success when following their dreams?


Not surprisingly, headlines express this same assumption and will often downplay and even contradict the role passion plays in building a profitable online business, or any type of business for that matter.


Google “follow your passion” and you’ll see such titles as, “Why ‘follow your passion’ is bad advice” and “Do Like Steve Jobs Did: Don’t Follow Your Passion”. Even headlines from blogs and newsletters I read religiously diss the follow your passion model.


So of course, I once again have to step in and look into this further. After all, have you noticed the “Love what you do” design on the top right of this page or the tag line under the title of my blog? I can’t just ignore all this dispassion about passion!


In fact what I discovered was not that passion was harmful to achieving business success, but that it was misunderstood and not used properly.


This snippet from a recent Ducttape marketing article  further addresses  this misuse of passion in building a business:


Passion and purpose in work isn’t something you can simply identify and then go do, it evolves as you actually do it.

I’ve written a new book called The Commitment Engine, due out next month, and in it I spend a great deal of time suggesting that you do indeed need to pursue work you enjoy, but if you want the money, purpose and passion to come, you have to get really, really good at doing work you love.



In his article, John Jantsch, points out that passion is good, but it’s not enough to sustain a fledgling business. Both passion and grunt work, lots of grunt work, fuels the journey to success and helps to grow your passion further.


Ok. So we have to work and work hard. But is work the opposite of passion?


how to have a successful business
I find people tend to separate the two when in fact,  they overlap. Have you ever witnessed people passionate about what they do? They get right into their ‘work’. They’re in the zone! They’re on a mission!


Take a gardener, for instance. A gardener loves to get down and dirty, jump in with both hands and dig in the soil, dirt building under his fingernails.


Or picture an artist in her paint studio. She uses different brushes and palette knives and even her hands, feeling the paint glide under her fingertips, mixing the different hues from smeared tubes of paint littered around her as she projects the image in her head onto the canvas.


Described as such, both jobs sound like fun!


On the other hand, digging, squatting, and heaving bushes as well as standing for hours painting canvas after canvas to meet an exhibition deadline can be perceived as hard work. And for someone looking in from the outside, that kind of work and pressure may seem unbearable. But to those on the inside, the work behind the passion is part of the whole package and can be very satisfying.


So, how do you run a successful business on passion?


Ok. We are not gardeners or painters. We are online entrepreneurs. So, in our case, what kind of work is necessary to become successful entrepreneurs? What price do we need to pay to do what we love?


Well, it all depends on what type of business you’re running. But here are 8 common examples of work needed to start and run an online business:


  • Spend lots of time researching online to discover more about your market and what they want.
  • Learn about website design and provide a website that’s engages your visitors and provides them with useful information or products.
  • Research and create helpful content for visitors to our site or blog.
  • Plan for and create a product or service.
  • Follow through, answer emails, resolve problems, maybe setup an online customer service desk to provide your clients with great service.
  • Spend time building relationships through several social media platforms.
  • Plan and use strategies to generate online traffic, including optimizing your website for search engines.
  • Learn to become more technical savvy by using various software, hardware, and applications.

Whether and how much of these specific examples apply to you directly depends on the type of business you’re in, your budget, and your skills and experience.


The point is, no matter what the ‘grunt work’ is, don’t assume that doing what you love equates to no work, no stress, no deadlines, no pressures, no difficulties, no learning, no pushing yourself, etc.  Just like the gardener and the painter, you are building something. In our case, we are building a business. And building, whether its landscape or a piece of art, takes work.


Time for a new perspective


But, I ask again the question from above: is work the opposite of passion? Are these two elements indeed separate from each other when you are doing what you love? If work revolves around your passions, such as building a business, then maybe it can be enjoyable, or at least satisfying?


Like the gardener and painter example, can we find a child-like enjoyment in the ‘work’ portion of our business? We have many passions. Could such activities like learning, attaining goals, and helping customers be considered personal passions?


Dan Ariely, a professor of Psychology and dabbler in Behavioural Economics, talks of research with many animals who more often than not chose to work for their food over not working for it. (By the way, the only species tested that didn’t show this behaviour was the cat! Anyone surprised?)


Likewise, isn’t it possible that we humans can also enjoy the work? Especially when it is inspired by our passions?


And that brings us full circle


Maybe building a successful business based on your passions is not flawed thinking or short-sighted, after all.


Maybe instead, our perception of passion being separate from or opposite to work is what’s causing the problem.


Maybe we need to be more like the child-like gardener or painter who finds joy in digging or slapping paint on the canvas, in the activity of creating.


Maybe we just need to be more passionate about our lives in general and infuse that energy into our grunt work.


Maybe we just need to picture passion as a paintbrush, a tool that helps us create what’s in our heads and our hearts.


So, what do you say fellow dream believers? Will you grab your paintbrushes and join me in the grunt work? Let’s grunt with satisfaction. Let’s grunt with wonder. Let’s grunt with determination. And most importantly, let’s grunt with passion and splash a ton of paint on that canvas.


legitimate online business


Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.

~ Pablo Picasso ~


How about you? How do you ‘make it through’ the grunt work part of your business? How do you keep the passion in your business alive despite the ‘work’? 




face photo credit: paurian via photo pin cc
baby photo credit: jshj via photo pin cc
picasso photo credit: Mike Licht, via photo pin cc




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4 Responses to How To Run A Successful Business on Passion, Interrupted!

  1. Great post Louise. I think the hardest part of building a business on passion is we are inpatient and we want everything to happen now. If we step back and enjoy the journey we enjoy each day of the process.

  2. That’s exactly what I’m trying to point out, it’s about ‘enjoying the journey’. But I didn’t use that phrase as it’s so overly used that just like ‘follow your passion’, we tend to gloss over the real meaning of enjoying every moment and every aspect of our passion. Thanks for your feedback!

  3. I agree with Jean. When you are passionate and inspired to do what you love, you sometimes forget that all of the “grunt work” is part of that journey and is the fuel that keeps us going!

  4. Great minds think alike! Thanks Gladys.