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Pursue Your Passion

Business Axioms for Entrepreneurs
Thinkofthat.net, is filled to the brim with interesting features, from inspirational quotes to business trivia. One of my favorite parts of the site is the list of Business Axioms (or principles) for aspiring entrepreneurs. In this new series, I take each individual axiom and  have a closer look at it. The first two installments ran in January and February. And now, part three in the twelve-part series.

Axiom #3: Pursue Your Passion

Rethink your hobbies and interests. The things you enjoy outside your job — the things you do for love — can lead to a profitable future.

Do something you love, and you’ll never have to work a day in your life. So goes the old saying. Of course, anyone who has ever started a business based on their passion knows that, just because you’re passionate, it doesn’t mean you won’t be working your rear end off. But the idea still stands: If you’re doing something you love, the effort you put in comes just a little more naturally. Those long hours are just a little more enjoyable. And success is all the sweeter.

Making your passion profitable isn’t always easy, but it isn’t impossible. Depending on the nature of your business, “profitable” can mean either commercial success, or a financially sound charitable enterprise.

There are plenty of Pursue Your Passion success stories that the Why Guys have uncovered. Their story on Sew What, Inc is a prime example. Sew What? Inc. specializes in custom theatrical draperies and fabrics for entertainment and event industries. They produce everything from 3-D fabric sets for rock concerts to fancy front curtains for world class auditoriums. It’s no coincidence that founder Megan Duckett loves what she does. It all started when she rented a sewing machine and made 10 coffin linings for a Halloween show, as a way to bring in some extra money. She enjoyed it so much, though, that she began doing craft sewing on weekends and evenings. And now, her company’s recording annual sales of 4.6 million dollars.

Sew What, Inc is unique in that Megan Duckett didn’t even recognize her passion for custom drapery fabrication until she was already making money off it. That’s lucky. But what about people who know already know what their passions are and can’t figure out a way to monetize them?

The truth is, pursuing your passion is by no means a surefire way to find success. Just because you love something doesn’t mean a significant segment of consumers will. And being passionate doesn’t mean you’ll be a good business person.

If you’ve racked your brain trying to find ways to pursue your passion and make it profitable, but haven’t come up with anything, it doesn’t mean that it’s impossible. But it may not be the right field for you to pursue. Often, the acid test of a good idea is how other people react when you pitch it to them. Many people tend to guard their ideas ferociously for fear of them being stolen. As a result, they never get to hear regular people reacting to their idea.

So if you’re toying with a way to turn your passion into a business, don’t keep it all to yourself. Use discretion, but run it by other people. See what they think. If people tend to love your idea, that might be an indication that there’s a market for it. And don’t worry too much about someone taking your business idea from under your nose. Because if it is a good idea, if you’ve got your financial and business bases covered, and–most importantly– if you really are passionate about it, then nobody will be able to pull it off quite like you. The key is to not just have confidence in your idea, but also have confidence in your own ability to pull it off in a way that no knockoff ever could. That’s the benefit of being passionate about something. Your passion shows in everything you do, right down to the finished product.

If there is a finished product. A passion-based business doesn’t have to be a quirky product or brand. Just ask Alison Levine of Daredevil Strategies. I’ve covered Alison on the WDITOT blog before, and she certainly exemplifies this axiom. In 2004, Levine left her job as an investment manager and, using her business acumen combined with her unique personal history and penchant for real-life risk taking, she started a consulting firm where she trains employees at major companies on risk-taking, leadership, and team building. One of her great passions is climbing mountains–including Mt. Everest–and she incorporates that passion into almost every speech she makes. Levine saw a connection between her two passions, business and climbing, and she used her unique expertise in both fields to provide companies and individuals with guidance and advice.
There are countless other Why Didn’t I Think o f That? stories that demonstrate just what can happen when you pursue your passion, many of which have used their businesses to help other people. Like Hertiage Link Brands, where founder Selena Cuffe took her passion for wine and South African culture to start distributing African Wines in America. Her company has not only been profitable, but has managed to bring a voice to a severely underrepresented portion of the South African wine industry.
Lisa Knoppe Reed, founder of Cute Tools, took a different approach to pursuing her passion of helping others. It started by painting flowers and whimsical scenes on household gadgets and tools, then selling them and donating a percentage of profit to charities. Today, many of the Cute Tools are made by special needs students, with a portion of the revenues supporting their schools.
While pursuing your passions isn’t a sure thing, nothing ever is. Starting a business based on something you love is still starting a business, and you’ll need to go through the same obstacle courses any other entrepreneur does. Make sure you know what you’re doing. Surround yourself with people who can help, who believe in your idea. Get all your ducks in a row. Write up a business plan, and know where you’re headed. And then? Well, as corny as it sounds…
Follow your heart.

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  • http://www.sewwhatinc.com Lynda Vaughn

    Having a true passion for what you are doing can inspire the people around you. When I joined Sew What? Inc. over seven years ago, I knew nothing about custom stage curtains. Megan’s passion for the company and our clients is contagious, and has inspired a similar passion in me. I think our clients also can feel that passion. While you can’t really quantify the effect, I definitely believe that the success of the company is based in large part on the passion and committment of all of us at Sew What? Inc.

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