Profit or Poverty? The Fruits of Following Your Passion
The digital age has brought us access to information that the kings of the not so- distant past would have envied. Today, we can Google just about anything and get answers to even the most specific questions. But how do we filter for the quality of the answers we get back, especially those that shape how we do something as important as business?
The reality of search engine optimization (i.e. how Google decides what’s important) is that the information everyone is reading on the Internet is created by the best marketers. No, not the best teachers, or the most knowledgeable people, but the marketers who know how to work the system to get eyes to their website, and ultimately their products and services.
What does this have to do with passion? In short, the business world is full of bad advice and good marketers who prioritize their sales over what could actually help you. And one of the worst pieces of advice that’s trickled down through this process is this: “Follow your heart, follow what makes you happy, and eventually you’ll make it big.”
Being sold the dream of “passion and profits” may have gotten you into entrepreneurship, and for that you can be thankful. Entrepreneurship is a beautiful landscape full of greater time freedom, potential impact, and fulfillment. And frankly, the world needs your gifts.
But the sad truth is, unless you’re already seeing traction and the market is really wanting what you’re offering, your passion alone won’t get you through entrepreneurship. Put simply, if people don’t want what you have, you won’t make money or change the world, no matter how much it means to you.
What your business needs, much more than passion, is demand.
Entrepreneurs solve problems for a profit. Period. We don’t create our freedom by pursuing businesses that make us happy. We create our own freedom by making other people happy.
The only things people pay for are the things they value. So the only way to get paid yourself is to offer something that someone else wants.
The products and services we give to others become the dollars in our pockets. It’s always been this way, and likely always will be.
And this is precisely why your passions can lead you down the wrong path. A passion is something that makes you happy, which isn’t always what other people want or need.
If you’re like me, you started your entrepreneurial journey because you wanted things like time and lifestyle freedom, location independence, and to have a real tangible impact on the world around you.
The only way to truly do that is to create what people are looking for.
I speak from personal experience, after shifting the focus of my business from what I wanted to do, to what I could do for others, and watching my income shift accordingly. The skills I picked up throughout my life (art, design, software, planning, advising) all came together to create something much bigger than I could’ve ever created just by doing what I thought would be fun or exciting.
I went from chasing my passion of life coaching and struggling to support myself, to running a thriving business around helping entrepreneurs dial in their systems, create their websites and marketing funnels, and save money in the process.
I saw that nearly every solopreneur I knew was massively struggling with marketing themselves and drowning in a sea of complicated software, so I set out to make their lives easier, because those were the pieces of business I was already great at.
With that pivot from “my passion” to “their need,” everything changed. I earned more, and in the process of truly helping people, I’ve actually become a lot happier with what I do in the world.
I see this as the difference between passion and purpose.
Passion is literally defined as “strong and barely controllable emotion.” In business, it’s chasing what feels good, without stopping to think about what other people actually want.
Purpose, on the other hand, is how your unique gifts come together to help as many people as possible by finding the problems that are bringing them the most pain, and solving them.
Look at any thriving business, and at its core you’ll find a simple solution to a painful problem.
For me, that’s solving the problem of massive confusion around how to create an online presence that’s beautiful, easy to manage, and optimized for sales.
What about you? What problem is showing up for the people around you that you can solve right now?
Once you answer that question, you can test your idea by talking about your solution with those around you. You know that you’ve found something that people want or need when you start hearing things like, “We should talk. I definitely need that.”
Ultimately, the formula for a successful business is simpler than you might think: solve a painful problem, tell people about it, and do the very best you can to make their experience working with you as pleasant and easy as possible.
Following your passion is fun, and I highly encourage having as much fun in your life as possible. But if you want to make that impact you’ve been dreaming of, it all starts with finding your purpose: the problem that people are waiting for you to solve.
I promise, truly helping people with your gifts brings not just more prosperity, but also more fulfillment than a struggling passion ever could.
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