When individuals indicate that they want to start a business they are often advised to follow their passion, but is this really the best advice? Unfortunately, such guidance could be a bit short-sighted. Not all passions can be turned into profitable businesses for at least 2 reasons:

  1. There’s no demand for the product or service you want to offer.
  2. There is a demand for your passion, but no money in it.

There are other issues to consider when deciding to start a business based upon your passion:

Passion Defies Logic

Passion can be problematic because it can lead to an unrealistic assessment and romanticism of the potential of a particular business concept. In reality we need to know if we start a business based upon our passion that it has a chance of succeeding. How long before it reaches profitability? And, if you’re buying a business, is the price right? You need to run the numbers.

When we’re passionate about something, we tend to operate from an emotional stance, rather than logic. This is not a good state to be in when deciding on which business to start or purchase.

Passion is Fleeting

Think about the last time you fell in love. You couldn’t keep your hands off of one another. You want to be with him or her all of the time. But, how long did the magic last – a few months, maybe a year? As the time passes, so does the infatuation and sometimes we discover that Mr. or Ms. Right wasn’t so right after all.

The same can happen with a business. The first few months of the business you’re excited about getting up at 5:00 a.m. and working until 8:00 p.m., and you’re exhilarated by solving the complex business problems that arise. However, after about the first year it gets a bit stale. If these hours seem a bit excessive think about the restaurateur or baker.

Passion Causes One to See Through Rose-Colored Glasses

Going back to the analogy above of falling in love…. When you’re in love everything about Mr. or Ms. Right is perfect, but after some months pass you begin to notice things about him/her that you didn’t see before – and not the great things.  You’re likely to find what you initially labeled his or her cute laugh as an annoying roar.

In other words, when you’re in the midst of passion your vision is blurred because you’re looking through rose-colored glasses and miss the defects. Just as when selecting a life partner, you need to know what the business is really all about and not be clouded by visions of perfection.

Passion Is Required in the Building Phase

Passion can be good and is actually necessary when starting a business. You will need it to sell your business idea to others. It’ll also be needed to get you through the long hours required when starting and growing a business. However, passion needs to be restrained when you’re in the midst of selecting the business idea or evaluating an existing business for purchase.

So, keep in mind that passion should be reserved for the building phase, not the selection stage. Thus, exercise extreme caution when choosing a business based upon what you’re passionate about, and focus on your interests as well as those of your potential customers.

The bottom line – be practical when selecting, but passionate when building.

Carolyn K. Broner, Ph.D.

Dr. Carolyn K. Broner is an Assistant Professor at Ashford University in the College of Business and Professional Studies in the department of Leadership and Organizational Studies. She holds a doctorate in management with a focus in leadership and organizational change and has conducted research in the areas of leadership, charisma, organizational change and development, and entrepreneurship. She has also owned businesses in the beauty industry and editorial services arenas. Prior to moving into the collegiate and business worlds Dr. Broner was a high school teacher who taught social studies and entrepreneurship in metropolitan Detroit, Michigan.

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