You've probably gotten this business advice or heard it dozens of times from well-meaning people, “you need to do what you love”. They'll tell you that's the key to success as an entrepreneur.
Not true. Not true at all.
Actually, it's so misguided that it has caused many would-be entrepreneurs to pour their life savings into business ventures that were doomed from the start.
Thousands of businesses are started each day by people that have a passion for what they do. It might be the dancer who opens a dance studio or the chef who decides to open their own restaurant. They have a deep passion for what they do but most likely, according to statistics, they will fail within the first few years of starting their business.
Wanting to turn something you love doing into a business is great, it's just that a lot more is needed in order to start and grow a successful business.
So why do so many people give out this misguided advice? I think mostly because it sounds and feels good to both them and the would be entrepreneur. It's looking at business through rose-colored glasses, an ideal that's pretty far away from the realities of starting a business.
And yes, many people are highly successful doing what they love, but they are successful for reasons beyond just the fact that they are doing what they love.
So if doing what you love is not the key to a successful business, then what is? Well, it's this;
You don't have to do what you love, but you do have to love what you do.
Let me explain.
Do you think the folks who started Dollar Shave Club had a deep passion for providing great shaves at a cheap price? Do you think the people over at Squatty Potty were on a mission to provide utterly complete bowel movements for millions of people?
Cue great advertisement
No, they could care less about the products they created and the solutions they provide. All they saw was an opportunity, a gap in the marketplace, and they seized that opportunity to great economic advantage.
So why are they so successful?
Because they love what they do. And it has nothing to do with the product or service itself but it has everything to do with having a passion for the journey, a passion for the possibilities. It's loving the challenge of creating something new. It's about the process of taking an idea and turning it into something that creates value to the marketplace.
And making a lot of money.
You don't need do what you love, but you do need to love being an entrepreneur.
So what is an entrepreneur?
The way I explain it to people is that an entrepreneur sees something and tries to make it better. They create things that weren't there before. An entrepreneur spots an opportunity and becomes so restless that they can't think of anything else except to seize that opportunity. Entrepreneurs are always growing and become restless when they are not.
An entrepreneur doesn't lack ideas, they have too many ideas and struggle to choose any one of them to focus their efforts on.
So why do you need to love being an entrepreneur?
If you told an entrepreneur that the best business opportunity right now was to create a janitorial company in their city, they would immediately start thinking of all of the ways they could create the best janitorial company anyone has ever seen. If you told that to a chef who dreams of opening a restaurant, they would balk at the suggestion.
Starting a business doing something you love is great, but there is a lot more that makes a successful business and you have to have enthusiasm for those parts as well. Michael Gerber, author of “The E-Myth”, called people that start a business doing something they love a “Technician”. Technicians start a business because they want to do what they love, only without a boss. These people have a passion for what they do but lack the rest of the skills and enthusiasm that is required to grow a successful business. Just because you are handy doesn't mean you have the skills to start a home renovation business.
These people are essentially buying themselves a job where they can spend their days doing what they love without a boss to put a damper on things. The problem is that business doesn't work this way and why the vast majority of failed businesses are started by Technicians.
You have to love everything about starting and growing a business, not just the actual product or service you are selling. Anyone who has started a business knows that the actual product or service is only part of the overall business. There are people to hire and train, marketing strategies to create, processes and systems to implement and a thousand other things that make up a successful business.
You have to be willing to embrace everything, all the parts that make up a successful business, and not just the one part you have a passion for. You have to have enthusiasm for all of it.
An entrepreneur can jump from one industry to another, with equal enthusiasm. It's because they have a passion for being an entrepreneur, not a particular product or service. And when they do jump into a new venture, whatever the product or service is, it becomes a passion for them because they love the entrepreneurial journey so much.
Do you see the difference?
So yes, you can start a business doing what you love, but you also need to love being an entrepreneur.
That's the key to being a successful entrepreneur, in my opinion.
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