Following Your Passion: a Moneymaker or a Dud?

If you start a business based on your hobbies or anything that you love to do, is it true that you’ll really never work a day in your life?. The answer obviously depends on several factors, such as whether your passion provides you with salable goods or services, whether there’s a reasonable market, whether you can live with the countless hum drum tasks that will be required, and many more. Frankly, I agree that they call it “work” for a reason, but that doesn’t mean that following your passion is a bad idea.

The following tips should help you obtain a realistic view of the ups and downs of doing what you love so you can make an educated decision.

Follow Your Passion

What Realism Looks Like

Here are some points that can help you decide if a passion-driven business is the way to go.

You have to be practical

If the pet rock was such a winner, then your hobby is business-worthy, right? Well, paper clip collectors should probably think twice before opening a fancy paper clip business; there are enough office supply stores in the world already. Nonetheless, there are ways to monetize many hobbies.

If you love to restore old cars — and you can do it efficiently while accepting that you’ll eventually have to sell them (unless you’re Jay Leno) — then opening a specialty car business or garage might make a handsome living. If you’re a writer (like me) or any type of artist, you can turn your passion into a commercial living, but you have to create some items that may not feed your muse, and you have to learn how to take criticism. Face it: customers buy what they like, not necessarily what you like, which can be a real passion-squelcher. This leads to one of my personal stories.

I used to manage a team of technical writers. During an interview with a new candidate, I described the documentation process, including editorial reviews by various people. Her response: “Gee, I guess I’ll have to learn how to take criticism.” That writer later decided to become a contract writer, and she never seemed happy or successful.

So, take some time to imagine what it will really be like when you earn a living by pursuing your passion. As a person who does just that, I can say that the rewards can be immeasurable, as long as you go in with a clear picture.

You must be willing to do more than just passion-related activities

According to one psychological study, “Urging people to find their passion may lead them to put all their eggs in one basket but then to drop that basket when it becomes difficult to carry.” You’re still running a business, and you have to market your products/services, handle the financials, and do lots of paperwork. You can reduce the burden of the daily grind by hiring a virtual assistant, an accountant, and so forth, but you should never expect to pursue your passion exclusively 24/7.

Of course, there are many ways to take control of drudgery, including scheduling specific times to attack it. I personally find it satisfying to automate the invoicing process — and even the writing process — by programming little macros that avoid the need for repetition while increasing accuracy. Your sense of satisfaction may be different than mine, but always keep your mind open to the best ways to get boring tasks done.

You might miss out on other passions

As you go through life, it’s natural to discover countless passion-worthy interests. New discoveries may not happen when one interest consumes your business and your personal life. When your passion becomes your business, it’s important to pursue other interests during your personal time. Personal time is important; if you don’t have any personal time, then you need to develop better time management skills.

Case in point: I’ve always loved writing. I was doing technical writing for a living, and then I went home and wrote other things. Friends told me to find a new hobby so I wouldn’t burn out. Being obedient, I started making jewelry. It was fun and creative, and I got to wear my art. Unfortunately, it turned out that people who saw my creations wanted to buy them more quickly than I could casually create them, and I fell into a sideline business. I had to search again for something new to feed my muse.

You might lose passion for your passion

Connected with the prior point, keep in mind that familiarity can breed contempt when it becomes too much of a good thing. Surprisingly, I burned out on jewelry making, but my core passion won out, and I’m still writing. In my case, I learned that focusing on writing made me happier than making jewelry for other people who didn’t share my personal taste. I also found that running an art fair booth is very stressful, indeed, even though I still love shopping at them.

Of course, decades of technical writing (which I loved) eventually lead to a loss of interest in composing even one more word of documentation. Hopefully, you can tell that I still love writing online articles.

Only You Can Judge if a Passion-Based Business is Right For You

The studies cited earlier may lean toward the theory that combining your passion with work may not be advisable. In truth, only you know whether it will make you happy to blend the two. Think long and hard about what your future will be if you devote most of your time to a hobby or special interest. Talk with the people who know you best to gain different perspectives. Understand that you will, in fact, do hard work, no matter what you do for a living.

Then, if you still want to move forward with a passion-related business, go for it. While I can’t guarantee that you’ll be happier or more successful, I can personally say that I’ve never regretted my decision to write for a living.

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