Is Passion Enough To Keep Your Business Afloat?

Image of Passion SignIf I am passionate about my business idea then I can make it work, right?

There are at least two sides to this. People think that if  they are in love enough with their business idea that it’ll be a success online. As long as they convey how much they love their interest, they’re sure others will follow.

Then you have the folks that are extreme, die hard affiliate marketers advertising and selling what’s hot and trending.  They toss passion to the wayside and it’s all about, “show me the money.”

I don’t think there’s a right or wrong, only the choice of the approach that will complete you. But consider this: is your passion shared by enough potential customers?

If you’re passionate about raising fungus gnats do you think you can build a sustainable business around sharing your insider tips and strategies of raising them? Doubtful. While that may not be the best example it illustrates the point that you can’t pay the bills on trickles of traffic and interest.

You’ll need solid traffic numbers. They don’t have to be astronomical but there has to be an obvious pain or problem associated with your business solution to convert visitors.

Starting a business doesn’t have to be so painful.  Learn to “look up” and see the world around you. What are people buying? What are they complaining about and what solutions are available? Does your passion overlap with any of these things?

Business Passion Plays A Part

Passion does play its part.  If you genuinely enjoy what you’re in business to do then at least you won’t burn out fast.  You’ll be able to publish useful content consistently.  Plus, when the content and inspiration comes easily to you that’s when it doesn’t feel like work.  Clearly passion has its merits.

Ever see a business owner passionate about their work? It’s infectious. You want to learn more from them and keep an eye on them. Their passion is evident in the care they pour into their work and their interaction with their clients. See Pat Flynn do this masterfully at his Smart Passive Income site  if you want to see passion in action.

But demand also needs to be there.  Search your market and be sure that there is pain and money being spent to remove that pain.  Are people eBaying items in your industry?  Can you find Amazon books or products selling what you are offering? Read the reviews of other products and you’ll gain insider knowledge to supply gaps.

How about what your competitors are doing; are you going to undercut or exceed their pricing and how will you
position yourself in relation to them?  What is your USP?

Remember to place your audience first ahead of your own wants and interests. Ultimately they’re the ones that steer the ship. You may as well start with their interests in mind and either grow your passion around them or rejoice in discovering new interests!

You Decide

It comes down to you.  Are you okay with pursuing your passion even if it doesn’t pay?  If you’re dabbling online partly for the creative outlet and entertainment that’s perfectly fine.  But if you endeavor to supplement or even replace your current income then you can’t choose passion over payday.

So, what’s your passion and are you making it work for you?  Share your thoughts below.

Photo: neilconway

23 Responses to Is Passion Enough To Keep Your Business Afloat?
  1. Adrienne
    February 21, 2011 | 1:00 pm

    Hey Jon,

    Really great post and a topic that many people need to be aware of.

    When I first got online that’s all I heard. Do something you’re passionate about. Only problem was, there wasn’t really one thing I’m truly passionate about that I could do online.

    If you are familiar with say a product or service that you can promote online then you will enjoy the experience that much more. Let’s face it, building a successful business takes a lot of time and hard work so if you don’t enjoy what you are doing, you will get burnt out really quick.

    Thanks for spelling this out for us. Really great information.


    • Jon
      February 21, 2011 | 9:16 pm

      I agree completely. It does take a lot of time and hard work and you can easily burn out. But, as you said, if you find something you may already be familiar with then this whole experience may become enjoyable. It’s also good to keep an open mind about finding new passions!

      Thank you for your comment, Adrienne.

  2. Jk Allen
    February 22, 2011 | 12:01 am

    Hey Jon – I hope you’ve been well. Great article! I’m in agreement with you. Just because you have a passion for something, doesn’t mean you can make a living off of it. I think it takes more…and a market has to be present and beyond passion, a person has to have business acumen (and some hustle!).

    Thanks for the great post Jon. Take care!

    • Jon
      February 22, 2011 | 8:50 am

      Haha, how appropriate coming from you, “and some hustle.” Very true. As much as we’d all like to believe we can just follow our passions, we can’t rely on that exclusively.

      However, I think we’re rewarded with the ability to pursue our passions after we’ve helped enough people realize their goals and develop their passions.

  3. Bryan McHeyzer
    February 22, 2011 | 6:50 pm

    Hi Jon,
    Excellent post and you do raise an important point about having a passion for our work.
    Sometimes working in an area of our passions (as you pointed out)may not be able to produce the income we would like…

    I have found …. if you have a goal and a good reason, then, whatever you do, becomes a passion and helps you through the slow tedious tasks that we need to do to get our businesses to the point where we can then spend time with our passions.


    • Jon
      February 22, 2011 | 8:18 pm

      I like the way you stated that: “if you have a goal and a good reason then whatever you do becomes a passion and helps you through…” For some, having goals they’re striving to achieve provides most of the passion they need. They take their passion for meeting goals and channel it into an endeavor.

      Great take on it, Bryan.

  4. Walter
    February 22, 2011 | 8:02 pm

    You really have me thinking here Jon. Most of the time, I’m confused because things are not working out as I follow my passion, but you have me enlightened here. :-)

    • Jon
      February 22, 2011 | 8:11 pm

      Glad to have enlightened you! Sometimes we need to be creative in weaving our passion into a business model that pays. Other time we have to broaden our horizons by learning about new industries and topics that may be our [new] passions of tomorrow.

      Thanks for your comment, Walter.

  5. Bolaji O |
    February 22, 2011 | 11:02 pm

    What’s up, Jon:

    The Passion question is an evergreen conundrum.
    Passion? Or Practicality?
    Your post strikes a good balance between both.
    In the best-case scenario, your passion will be very practical, and very profitable.

    In the worst-case scenario, your passion will be so esoteric that a decade of blogging about it won’t amount to a hill of beans.

    Or won’t it?

    The truth is that this worst-case scenario hasn’t been fully tested, to my knowledge.

    Even if someone picks a tiny niche, but blogs diligently about it for a decade, surely they will find enough of a following from around the world, to make a living?

    I think the catch is that we rarely have that long of a time frame, before we expect to make profits. :)

    I’m guessing (though I can’t prove it… yet…) that except in the most extremely extreme of situations, most people should be able to blog about their unusual passions, and given enough time, still profit from it.

    Let the debate continue. (grin)

    Great post!


    • Jon
      February 23, 2011 | 9:44 pm

      That’s an interesting angle, Bolaji. I don’t have any data to support a very obscure niche can become profitable given “x” years of nurtured content and community. My guess is in extreme cases it would be a substantial period of time. Then, what percentage of that untested demographic (10 years from now) will convert? Who knows. So many variables.

      Unfortunately, most of us are too impatient to find out ;) Thank you for your fresh insight, Bolaji.

  6. Marlee
    February 23, 2011 | 8:15 am

    Hi Jon!

    I LOVE this topic…well, because passion-based business it my steez. In fact, I’ve got a video post on deck for next week that address this exact issue.

    I think you’ve done an excellent job at highlighting some of the more practical assessments required for building a passion based business.

    Even though you’ve got a passion for something, without a market, you’re dead in the water.

    There is one element I’d add, but I’ll refrain from sharing it here because it’s the core of my content for Monday’s video blog, but your questions are essential and serve as an excellent guide!

    • Jon
      February 23, 2011 | 9:37 pm

      Marlee, great to see you again. I’ll definitely watch your video (good job with the li’l cliffhanger haha).

  7. Samuel
    February 24, 2011 | 12:59 am

    Awesome post Jon! Just because you follow your passion dosen’t mean you will earn money in doing that. You just have to master the game. That’s why it’s advisable for someone who is just starting out, should be able to recognize oppurtunities also solve a pain! If you can do that, you will win in a big way. Thanks for sharing.

    • Jon
      February 26, 2011 | 9:41 am

      Remove pain and solve problems, right on Samuel. Thanks for stopping by.

  8. Janet @ The Natural Networker
    April 9, 2011 | 5:39 pm

    Jon, aloha. After doing a little research, I have to agree with you that, most likely, there is not a sustainable market for my insider tips and strategies on raising fungus gnats. In fact, even though I could own the keywords and dominate page 1 of google, I think I have discovered the problem. Jon, believe it or not, more people are interested in exterminating fungus gnats than in raising them. Go figure.

    Seriously, Jon, for the rest of your post, to my way of thinking our previous discussion on Why-How-What applies. I think that too many people are confusing their What with their Why.

    The product/service they are promoting is not their Why or their passion; it is their What. Their passion could be one of any number of things. The passion that starts and fuels them to continue their business could be to:

    1. Replace current income; fire your boss
    2. Make money from home
    3. Put money aside or children’s education
    4. Put money aside for retirement
    5. Hobbies, sports, vacations and the list goes on

    With a passionate Why, people can make better business decisions on the What. They don’t have to be passionate about the What. They absolutely must be passionate about the Why.

    By following yoru suggested steps, Jon, they can find the What to market to give them their Why.

    As always, I appreciate the clarity of your post and the actionable steps to success. Best wishes for a great weekend. Aloha. Janet

    • Jon
      April 10, 2011 | 4:27 pm


      Haha But you know, if there was anyone that could dominate the raising fungus gnat market I figured it would be you :) Thanks for the laugh.

      Great points though, Janet. Yes sometimes we (me included) need a refresher on making that distinction between “what” and “why.” Thank you for adding incredible value with your comment here.

  9. Nanette
    April 10, 2011 | 2:55 pm

    You make a good point here, Jon.

    As you ask the question in your title, “Is Passion Enough to Keep Your Business Afloat?”, the answer has to be “No”. Having “passion” doesn’t necessarily translate into taking action.

    I can be passionate about personal and professional development and spend many hours seeking enlightenment through meditation and/or education, but that will not grow a business.

    I can believe in the value of my work in the world, but if I don’t do what it takes to get that message out to the people who need to hear it, then I don’t have a business.

    Passion certainly inspires, but then that inspiration has to be turned into specific business building actions in order for a business to thrive and survive.

    That being said, I also believe that action without passion, will result in the eventual death of your business as well.

    Inspired Action is the answer.

    Thank you for encouraging the dialogue.

    Wishing you well-

    • Jon
      April 10, 2011 | 3:16 pm


      Great insight, thank you for sharing. Passion doesn’t necessarily translate into taking action – agreed. Taking action is vital and something of which I’m a serious proponent.

      Inspired action..oooh I like it. Action without passion will fizzle out, sure. I think that you can develop a new passion for something that is of interest to the market even though you may not have initially had the passion. But I see what you’re saying from the perspective of taking half-hearted action steps toward goals. You are either all in or not at all.

      See you again soon, Nanette.

  10. Jane | Find All Answers
    April 10, 2011 | 9:15 pm

    Hey Jon,

    This is a wonderful topic to discuss about, especially among bloggers and marketing people. Passion is the fuel, I would say, that keeps people move in the direction they are moving now.

    Passion always never pays off; indeed most of the times it doesn’t pay off. Having genuine passion is so very important. BUT I would never give “Passion” as an excuse for spending months together in front of a computer without making money.

    Passion is needed, but the hard work, expertise and whatever is needed to get your goal accomplished is rather more important.


    • Jon
      April 24, 2011 | 7:21 pm

      Hi Jane,

      Late response on my part here, but thanks for leaving your input.

      Passion is a fuel and I see your point about investing too much time without any reward. If you need it to pay the bills and it isn’t doing so, well, then it’s time to get creative or time to pack it up.

      Keep working hard and working smart out there, Jane!

  11. Devesh
    April 11, 2011 | 10:51 pm

    Hi Jon,

    Very Interesting Topic.

    It wasn’t passion that got me into blogging, it was money. I didn’t started blogging for my passion, i started it just to make some money but later i found passion in this field.

    I’ve to agree with you. Having passion isn’t enough, it takes a lot of hard work, action & patience to create a successful business.

    Thanks for sharing this fantastic article job.


    • Jon
      April 24, 2011 | 7:19 pm

      Hey Devesh,

      I missed this comment when it came in. Thank you for chiming in.

      So you developed a passion for blogging which is great! It’s interesting where life will lead us. Fortunately for you this realm appeals to you so that the revenue-earning portion of it isn’t all you’re focused on anymore.

      Gosh, patience and hard work: absolutely required :)

  12. [...] site and gaining a little traction. But they lack design skills, sustainable marketing savvy, and passion in their [...]

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