By age 13, I had developed a passion for programming, which lead me on a professional roller coaster ride. Eventually, I became the first corporate director of e-business at Cummins and a partner as well as co-owner of iGoDigital, leading to its $21 million acquisition.
Shortly after the acquisition, I was at a crossroads and wondered where my professional journey would go next. With a background in technology and business, I strived for the fast-paced and dynamic startup life. And with a passion for data as well as health and wellness, I started on my journey to launch my own company.
Everyone has a passion, whether its sports, data, fashion, music, technology… the list is endless. But if turning your passion into a full-fledged business was easy, everyone would do it.
It’s not. Passion alone won’t get the job done. It takes commitment, sacrifice and determination to start a company, which is why it’s vital to understand the process before taking your passion and transforming it into a business.
First, understand if a passion will make money
A recent study found that pursuing your passion both lowers stress and contributes to greater happiness overall. However, not every passion is going to evolve into a profitable business venture. The most successful businesses happen when there’s an unmet need in the marketplace.
Before taking the entrepreneurial plunge, spend a substantial amount of time determining if the passion can be lucrative as well as generate long-term sustainability. Consider the holes in the industry and how your passion can change the landscape of the marketplace. From there, create something worthwhile that can establish a strong customer base as well as attract potential investor funds.
Determine the competitive advantage
The big difference between a passion project and a real business is revenue. One’s ability to generate revenue increases when something unique about the product or service has been identified.
When following your passion to launch a new venture, consider what sets you apart from the competition to strengthen your marketplace advantage. Overall, the business will struggle if it can’t easily articulate why a customer should choose you over a competitor.
Be open to change
The most successful businesses are agile and flexible enough to pivot. This strategy has worked for some of the largest businesses in the world, including Twitter, Groupon, Starbucks and more.
It’s worked firsthand for my own company. What started as a healthcare analytics company later pivoted to an education technology company that replaces traditional textbooks with cost-effective, interactive and data-driven learning experiences.
Although it’s a natural tendency to avoid change, it’s impossible to expect your business to turn out the exact way you envision. Change is inevitable, and you need to be able to cope with it. In fact, sometimes the real growth comes after a significant shift.
As entrepreneurs, we live in a world that values quick thinking and dynamic action. This is not a bad thing. However, problems can arise when these traits manifest in the form of impatience. And while passion may help launch a business, patience is also key when combined with one’s grit and determination.
For clarification, patience does not always mean slow. No one wants a slow business, and investors don’t want to partner with a venture that’s moving at a leisurely pace. But, many setbacks may take place or take longer than originally planned. This may cause entrepreneurs to experience a level of impatience that can spiral into frustration as well as cloud judgement, detract from credibility or even damage relationships.
To better promote patience, make sure to establish realistic expectations to help avoid dejection when slower-than-expected growth potentially occurs.
Let’s be clear. Turning your passion into a business is hard work and a very challenging journey. It requires dedication, perseverance and devotion. You will come face-to-face with many obstacles that will make you question whether or not this was the best decision.
But understanding how to prepare before turning your passion into a business can make the process easier and more seamless. Taking these lessons into consideration will help propel your new business forward and make even the smallest taste of success worth it.