Finding Your Passion Can Crush A Good Business Idea, Unless You Do This
|September 3, 2012||Posted by Louise under Online Business Ideas|
What some are saying about finding your passion and following it…
I’ve read many articles lately trashing the concept of finding your passion as the right approach to starting a business. Some even went so far as to say that basing a business on your passion is a recipe for disaster.
Of course, since my motto is ‘Do what you love!’, I had to pursue this further. I read every post and article I could find on this subject and have come to an acceptable and appeasing understanding.
Is following your passion bad?
First of all, I think a small number of these ‘skeptics’ may have fallen flat on their faces trying out a few passions of their own and settled for less risky and straight-forward basic business methods.
But once you weed through the disheartened, you’re actually left with a group who aren’t suggesting you not follow your passion. Rather, they’re pointing out that finding your passion and building a business on it is not enough.
Passion is only one part of the equation to success and unfortunately it often overshadows and therefore leaves out a crucial element: customer value. And that’s what can be fatal to your business.
So to find those good business ideas that suit you, by all means, find your passion and follow it. BUT, don’t forget to angle that passion into something the market will value.
Good Business Ideas Need Passion + Value
The Huffington post in its coverage of a recent panel on job creation, included similar input from top business leaders:
“Every baby boom generation person who has to give a college commencement talk uses the phrase ‘follow your passion.’ But that’s why no one has written a book calling us the greatest generation. The second point is to not just follow your passion, but something larger than yourself. It ain’t just about you and your damn passion. I remember talking exactly a year ago right now to Steve Jobs, who was very ill, and I asked him that question: He said, ‘Yeah, we’re always talking about following your passion. But we’re all part of a flow of history,’ he said. ‘And we take things out of that flow that other people have created. And that’s why our lives are so great. So you’ve got to put something back into the flow of history that’s going to help your community, help other people, so that 20, 30, 40 years from now, even if it’s a small pebble you put back in, people will say, this person didn’t just have a passion, he cared about making something that other people could benefit from.’“ ~ Walter Isaacson, CEO of the Aspen Institute
I found other leading entrepreneurs who stress the same value focus in a wonderful book I’m currently reading called Creating A Business You’ll Love. In it, Tim Berry, founder of Palo Alto Software and bplans.com, chimes in with experts in the quote above and also emphasizes the importance of customer value:
…there is nothing as important as offering value…The clichés say it’s about doing what you love, being passionate, and sticking to it. I say yes, that is important, but you absolutely must temper that with making sure you’re doing something that offers value to others. Maybe you love playing the guitar or painting with watercolors, but will people spend their money to hear you play?
Well, they will if you angle it so that it offers the market something it values. For instance, if you love to play guitar or music, you could teach and create a video series and sell it online. This could be of value to someone who wants to learn at their own pace or doesn’t have access to an in-person music teacher, or…well, you get the drift.
Not expert enough to teach music? Then what about stepping back and focusing on your love for music and instruments. GigFunder, a company I wrote about previously, found a way to turn their love for music and underground bands into a leading edge business idea. In a nutshell, they manage upcoming bands based on a crowdfunding model. They get indie bands to request a venue and fans to pre-buy tickets. There’s a little more to it than that, but the point is that by adding some creativity, you can still follow your passion; to make it a good business idea, however, you have to make sure customers will benefit enough from it that they will pay for it.
In GigFunder’s case, bands pay a fee only if they meet their pre-ticket sales’ target and line-up a venue. Fans get value by getting to see a band they love play in their area as well as by connecting with and helping their favorite artists. Furthermore, appreciative bands will often give out prizes like signed t-shirts.
Another supporter of customer value in Creating a Business You’ll Love is Spencer Rascoff, part creator behind travel company, Hotwire.com and real estate marketplace, Zillow.com.
With two modern startups under his belt, Rascoff says he is always asked how to start a successful online business. And wouldn’t you know it, the first criteria (out of three) he suggests is to “provide consumers with a tremendous benefit.”
And finally, there’s Liz Lange who followed her passion for fashion. As she explains in the book, she was beginning her career as an editor at Vogue Magazine with no background in fashion or design. But surrounded by pregnant friends and women, she found a great need in fashionable maternity wear. As she indicates in the book:
The fact is that pregnant women need to stay engaged in the real world – not some make-believe fairy-tale land of fluffy froufrous that make them [pregnant women] look like walking, talking nursery rhymes. Back then [early 1990s], nobody knew how to show off their bodies. Well, I was about to change that!
So, she set out to start and launch her great business idea – the first ever designer maternity fashion line. And she succeeded despite her lack of experience, because she found something that her market – pregnant women – valued greatly: clothes that still made them look and feel attractive.
I explain all this because I don’t want you to be discouraged when you read how finding your passion or following your passion is not enough to help you with your startup ideas. Likewise, I don’t want you to get carried away in your enthusiasm and forget that there’s more to it than doing what you love.
Passion WILL help you succeed, but you have to remember that crucial element of offering something of value.
As Steve Jobs puts it in the above quote,“it’s not just about your passion, but also about how you offered something of value to your community.”
So how about you? How are you following your passion and how do you offer value? Something to think about and discuss below in a comment.
Love what you do!
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