From the cradle, millions have been urged to “follow their dreams.” But what happens when the dreams and passions of an entrepreneur do not make business sense, cannot attract funding from investors or friends, and is not scalable?
Passion is intense emotion associated with an idea, a cause, or a potential business venture; it usually is tied to the gifts and talents of a person and, because of the love for such causes, a person may go on executing such passions without being paid. It is believed that a person should pursue their passions at all costs because they remain committed to such causes even when the going gets tough.
But the “going getting tough” could mean many things. For one, it could mean that the passion in question is not viable as a business idea or model, and has consequently been rejected by the market. Or it just may be preliminary feedback to the entrepreneur suggesting the need to refine the approach to the business.
“Sometimes passion can blind you to the potential downside of your idea. The one non-negotiable factor for any sustainable business is that they solve a problem for a specific customer segment in a way that is appreciably better than the next best alternative. Get as much feedback from potential customers as possible. No matter how great you think the idea is, you still need to understand what your market thinks,” says John Torrens, a serial entrepreneur and entrepreneurship professor at Syracuse University.
So the question is asked: how can one follow a passion and still earn a good living? Better put; how do you know if your passion is worth following or will make a good business idea?
A number of thought leaders have suggested a framework for rating such passions, this line of thinking has variously been called by different names but more recently, it has been tagged the “convergence model.” The philosophy goes: find the overlapping space between your passion and what other people will be willing to pay for!
This viewpoint is very simple to understand, not everything you are passionate about or skilled at will be accepted by the market; however, it is not particularly easy to locate this intersection where passion meets usefulness leading to the establishment of a microbusiness.
Passion without a profitable market will lead to a stalemate, hence the need to engage a proven process to determine profitable niches from the causes that you care about. Below are seven ideas in this regard.
You will need to move beyond asking questions like “what am I passionate about?” to questions like “what am I committed to making happen?” An understanding of what you’re truly committed to can reveal potential profitable niches that can be harnessed.
Examine the complaints of your heart. Very similar to your commitments, the issues and areas you complain the most about can be an indication of your passion because complaints usually come out of an area that you are passionate about or committed to.
Generate a listing of potential markets. Think broadly about the various sort of people that might need what you have to offer and conceptual circumstances that might necessitate your services.
Build a large network. In the 21st century, business is not just about having a right product or service but about knowing the right people. Create time to intentionally network with people and build connections with all sorts of people, you never know where the next opportunity for your business will come from.
Engage the power of CSR. If your passion is a social cause that isn’t immediately profitable, you could consider partnering with an established firm that can fund your idea as part of a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).
Eventually, when you start running, hire people who are also passionate about the business, and constantly cascade and communicate the vision to them using a variety of methods and situations to bolster the essence of the company in their subconscious. You must ensure that you don’t lose steam yourself by delegating some of the repetitive tasks and focusing on the more important strategic aspects of the business that you are truly passionate about.
Build a community around it. As you gather momentum, think of building a community around your passion to further engrave it in the society. If you’re a fashion lover and you successfully set up a fashion-related business for instance, you may want to host fashion shows or establish open days for students where they showcase their products. The core idea is to get more people involved and consequently spread the word about your business around.
Without excitement for your venture, you probably would not succeed at it, that’s a given; however, the lack of a profitable market to reward your efforts wouldn’t make you succeed any better, at least not for long. The ideal approach is to strike a delicate balance and find that intersection between passion and profit!
By Emmanuel Iruobe