We’ve all heard the advice, If you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life,” or “Do what you love and the money will follow.”
This is bad advice, at least for creative people building a small business.
It sounds great, right? Doing what you love, selling your creations, being paid to do the thing you enjoy spending time on. How could there be a downside?
Small Business Ownership
Many new business owners underestimate the amount of time, money and energy the actual running of the business takes. Unless you have run a successful business for over 5 years, you might not realize the toll it can take and the amount of effort required to stay profitable. There will be hours and hours spent on aspects you don’t enjoy and you’re probably not very proficient doing. You’ll spend far more time running the business than being creative.
Secondly, taking that passion and making it a career means having to build a business around your ability to remain creative. After a year of producing your product, be it writing, jewelry, art, etc., you may find a slump in creativity. You may just hit “writer’s block” at any time and have your creativity come to a screeching halt. What if you run out of your products? Time constraints can be pressing, customers or clients waiting for the work which has now fallen overdue. What do you do then?
Once you move into a position of needing to be creative to continue to earn a living, your enjoyment will start to be taxed. You’ll find yourself struggling, unsatisfied with the work you produce and possibly very discouraged. Negative emotions start to attach themselves to what was once your soul fulfilling passion. And then you don’t even have your passion to turn to for inspiration and enjoyment.
Thirdly, once you start hustling to sell your products you’ll realize the great deal of work it takes to consistently market yourself. Day in, day out, you’re having to sell your work. Others may not respond as you expected or hoped. You’ll certainly face some criticism along with praise. After a year or two you may feel like you’re prostituting yourself just to keep the money rolling in. After you’ve said all you can say about your work and yourself, where do you go from there? How do you stay creative in your marketing as well as your product development?
More negative feelings overcome you. Everything associated to the creative outlet you once loved has become tainted with frustration and disillusionment. Even if your business is successful, even if it’s thriving, the emotional toll has done irreparable damage.
Implosion, Guilt and Shame
Sadly, I have watched this happen over and over again to small business owners. I hear their stories and they all have one consistent theme; I don’t want to do what I once loved anymore, maybe never again. I have ruined my passion and my finances. I’m a failure.
These people are not failures. There is so much riding on the success of a business. They just didn’t realize the toll building and maintaining a small business can take.
Do what you do well, but not your passion. Determine what comes naturally for you, a skill that you have that you may not love, but you can’t deny you do it well. Then develop a career out of that talent. If you try this and you don’t succeed the experience won’t be so soul crushing. But chances are that when you are working with a skill instead of a passion you’ll be able to be far more objective and intellectual about your business decisions. This will highly increase your likelihood of business success.
Keep your passion for yourself, to enrich your life and feed your soul. You don’t have to sell your soul to be a successful business owner.