Posted by: Mike Clough

Passion is NOT part of the requirements!

This guest post is by Jim Beach, Author of McGraw-Hill’s School for Startups, which contends that entrepreneurship is not about risk, creativity or passion.

If you ask 100 people on the street, I think that 99 of them will say that entrepreneurship involves risk, creativity, and passion. I think this connotation is the reason that many people fail to act upon their startup dreams. I believe that none of these should be part of the definition of entrepreneurship, but today I want to deal with only passion.

I am passionate about a lot of things in my life. I have a beautiful wife and three fantastic children that make me happy almost every day. I have a wonderful dog named Sunny, who is sitting at my feet, I have wonderful family and friends, and I enjoy many things about life. My main hobby, though I don’t get to do it very much, is woodworking. One of my goals in life is to have all of the furniture in my house hand built by me. I do have a passion for woodworking. However, I know that I am not very good at it, and that even if I was I great at it, I could not make a good enough living to support the standard of living that my family and I are accustomed to. Deep down, I know that pursuing my passion would be a big mistake.

Let me tell you about the things that I am not passionate about. I am not passionate about summer camp, online education, leather jackets, furniture, medical websites, restaurants, or credit card technology. These are the some of the businesses, the products and services, that I have sold in the last 20 years. I am not passionate about these things. I am not passionate about work. I am not passionate about any product or service. I think people that are passionate about things are scary. Passionate about a thing? Passionate about work? Passionate about being away from family?

I am passionate about not work, which is also known as play or free time. I am passionate about having the ability to go to my son’s soccer game at two o’clock in the afternoon on a work day if I want to. I enjoy being my own boss so that when my daughter has ballet, I can go whenever I want without worrying what anyone will think. I am passionate about controlling my own destiny and not worrying what some corporate boss 2000 miles away might do to my job today. I am passionate about taking as much vacation time as I want. I am passionate about implementing my own ideas and the process of what we call entrepreneurship. But entrepreneurship is still work, and I refuse to be passionate about work. I will be passionate about the process and the quality of life that it allows. And, I believe that being an entrepreneur allows for a much higher quality of life.

My conclusion then is that when someone says you have to be passionate to be an entrepreneur, or that you have to be passionate to work 80 hours a week, I just don’t get it. I may work 80 hours a week, but I try to have as many of them as possible after my children are asleep, which allows me to go to lots of soccer games and ballet recitals. When looking for a business to start, do not limit yourself to things that you are passionate about. Maybe being passionate about the process and passionate about the benefits of the process is enough. Maybe the improved lifestyle is what will return the passion to your marriage! And remember Valentine’s Day is coming very soon!

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If you would like to contact Jim Beach, you can do so by emailing him at james.beach@att.net or follow him on Twitter @EntrepreneurJim.

What are your thoughts about entrepreneurship? Do you agree with Jim’s points or do you feel differently? Why not comment and share your thoughts with the world?

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Responses

Jim,

How sad for you to be spending 40-80 hours a week with a job chore designed only to allow you to do the things you want to do. Life’s too short not to enjoy your career, particularly if you’re shouldering the extra costs, risks and challenges associated with starting your own business.

We just finished an initiative that included interviewing professionals in the US and Canada to gain their input, perspectives, tips and stories on career success (this was in the tight niche of horses). Every single one of them sited passion as a critical factor in their success (and these were some of the top people in their respective fields). It’s the passion for what you do as an entrepreneur that keeps you going when things get challenging (and they will).

Whilst there is an element of truth in Jims assertions,the oint he misses is that if what you create as an entrepreneur in the light of market reality also happens to be your passion then we have a double whammy!

I have always told my students and children do not confuse your hobby and interests with your career/goals in life. I believe in Jim’s case woodworking is more of a hobby than a passion and you will have to ask the question is this a passion of mine or simply a great pastime /interest /hobby.
A critical factor in passion is the ability to inspire people and lead people as you articulate your passion and live it in your daily life as did Steve Jobs. Not all of us can merge the two and hence in most cases we are unable to attain that state of perfection between dreams and work.
Of course . passion can be latent and discovered only when you venture out on your own!

I see Jim’s point to an extent. I will also say that you will be much happier with your career if you pursue something you enjoy.

For example, I started a web programming company because I truly do get excited about building better, cheaper, more efficient websites. Am I passionate about it, I think so. Am I obsessed? Could I give it up, I think so.

But the point being that I really find value in what I do because it is helping others become more effective.

Now we do need to remember that life is not about how much we can work. In the end, its about God, Family, and Friends. So our priorities should be on those.

Also, I would suggest that anyone seeking to pursue their “passion” in work while minimizing the impact on life checkout Tim Ferris’s “Four Hour Work Week.” It has some good principles for reducing impact on the important parts of life while pursuing your business passions as well.

This is Jim. I really appreciate your comments and glad to create some controversy. Will everyone agree that there are things you will do for free and things you will not? I have passion ONLY for things I will do for free. There is NO work, job, entrepreneurial endeavor I will do for free. I agree its nice when you really, really like your work. I really like my work. But it is work. I do not love it. I do not have passion for work. I feel sorry for those of you defending the idea that its ok to love a thing, job, or vocation. I have passion for people.

Hi, I am Julia, I started a business 2 years ago, with a passion to make big buck, and its a business i am passionate about. But 2 years down the road, i realised it becomes a daily job and my passion dies.

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