Can You Build a Successful Business if You Are Not Passionate About it?

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Is it possible to build a successful business if you are not exactly in love with what you are doing? Can you push through even if you are not burning with passion about either the idea or the industry? I know a lot of people may argue with me on this one, but the answer is, yes.

A Successful Business Starts with… Work

A while back, Mark Cuban wrote up an interesting little post on his blog that ended up getting a lot of attention, particularly because it went against the entrepreneurial grain. Whether you love him or hate him, this quote is a gem:

“When you work hard at something you become good at it… When you become good at doing something, you will enjoy it more… When you enjoy doing something, there is a very good chance you will become passionate or more passionate about it… When you are good at something, passionate and work even harder to excel and be the best at it, good things happen…Don’t follow your passions, follow your effort. It will lead you to your passions and to success, however you define it.

The point is, you don’t necessarily have to be burning with passion about your business idea as a prerequisite for success. You do, however, have to be motivated to put in the work and to get the help, answers, and other support needed to turn your idea into a successful operation.

Where is the Fire in Your Gut?

You can successfully build a business without passionWill having some level of passion about the business itself right at the beginning help you to grow your business? For sure! If you love what you are doing, it will be easier to put more effort into it, especially when you are trying to get through those first difficult stages of growth.

The problem with passion alone, is that it can quickly fizzle out as time goes on and obstacles stand in your way. To push through, you really need to be motivated by other factors such as wanting to be successful, wanting to be in control of your own income, or wanting to positively impact the world. These are all motivations that are not directly connected to your business, yet they can help you stay focused during the down times. It is more about the “why” behind starting a business, and less about the “what.”

This is such an important idea, yet many, many would-be entrepreneurs miss it.

It’s a fact that we tend to be more successful at the things that we care about. But the biggest and most effective way to get yourself to consistently care about something is to simply invest yourself in it. This can be an investment of time, effort, and money. Once you do so, you will have a vested interest in carrying on and getting good at what you do, and that can ultimately make you feel more passionate about it.

So, the bottom line is if you are very clear about why you want to start a business, and you are motivated to carry through, don’t worry about the passion part at the beginning. If you put in the work and you have the right attitude, you can really build a successful business and the passion will come later on.

Comments (6)

  • Susan,
    I guess that is how the galley guys felt about it, row and you get good at it.
    My feeling is that before you start a business you must ID the need, and provide a viable solution at a lower cost, or a better solution.
    Scott Adams says, and I agree, that passion fades with failure, and builds with success.
    Working hard is not a bad idea, but it won’t guarantee success, ever.

    • Hi John,

      Yes, I agree with you. You need a solid business idea and a plan of execution in place that’s based on a need that you can prove.

      But, the issue that I’m talking about in the post is for people who may have all of the above things (or they are willing and able to get them), they may just not be so excited about the specific business or industry.

  • Fake it till you make it. This turns things on their heads,but it makes sense.

    • Hi Alan,

      Yeah, I agree with you 🙂

      But, you are not just “faking it” to others, you’d be faking it to yourself as well. If an entrepreneur is motivated by other, outside factors, as I mentioned above, and this person is approaching business start up in the right way then even if the business fails, he or she will eventually find something that succeeds.

  • Boy did this article resonant with me! If i I read another feel good “fluff” piece about you must be passionate about your business I think I will go Fukushima. Okay that is a little extreme…

    Business is tough and not for the faint of heart.

    Starting a business today or growing one today is very difficult. It was tough in days gone by, yet now it is one of the most difficult undertakings imaginable. It would take a book for me to explain what I really mean. If there was anything possible to go haywire in the first years in my start-ups I have probably checked it off the epic failure list.

    We are faced with over regulation, an ice cold credit environment, and having to balance life and ten thousand other things.

    I was so busy today I forget to (fill in the blank)… Sorry honey!

    I work with the small business owner and I empathize with them for I am one. But I admit I wouldn’t trade it for that corporate job. Plus I really do help people at the end of the day and that fuels passion. That makes it worth it.

    What did Earl Wilson say?

    Success is simply a matter of luck. Ask any failure.

    • Hi Terry,

      Yeah, starting a business is tough. It takes a tremendous amount of work, dedication, and a whole bunch of other things, and those who have never run their own business may have a hard time understanding what it’s like from the outside. What’s ironic, though, is that these days business failure is being glorified, while at the same time, the potential to be a mega-success has grown. Many aspiring entrepreneurs are going in already heavily disconnected from the realities of starting and running a business from the ground up.


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