In starting a new venture, we are often forced to optimize for one of two extremes: value or meaning. We choose to either focus on creating something to make money or we find a project that fulfills a passion. For years, it has been one or the other.
The modern entrepreneur has broken this paradigm and shown us that there is a way create a profitable business built off of something that we care about. Loving what you do is far more powerful than being motivated by ego and greed. The best founders leverage their passions to create value. And not the other way around.
Unlike other careers, where you can perhaps coast along, entrepreneurship requires absolute attention. You have to be all in. Doubts are weaknesses that can be easily exploited by the inevitable difficulties that come with turning an idea into a company.
That is why passion can go such a long way into building something that delivers value. The good news is that the emergence of new technologies and resources is helping aspiring entrepreneurs turn their interests into real, sustainable brands and companies.
I had the chance to sit down with the Lori Taylor, a Forbes top 20 social media influencer, who has turned her passion into a pet business, TruDog. Sitting down with her for even just an hour, I could feel the enthusiasm in the way she talks about her product. For many, her career is a fantasy. She gets to do what she loves, and get paid for it!
I asked her how more of us could turn our passions into more than just hobbies, but actual careers, and here is what she had to say:
Figure out what you love
It can really feel frustrating when everyone is telling you to just chase your passion but you have no idea what that said passion even is. Where do you even start?
“You have to be purposeful. Figure out what drives you, what gets you up in the morning, what makes you happiest.”
This purposeful exercise is a great way to reveal what you really love. It does feel a little weird to search for a passion. So, sometimes things come up in life that make you reconsider your priorities or even further emphasize your beliefs.
This motivation can appear, unexpectedly, in many different forms. For Lori, it took an unfortunate circumstance to highlight her passion. One that would come to serve as the inspiration for her latest venture.
“Life was going good, until one tragic day when we learned our beloved dog Truman had a tumor in one of his legs. After an agonizing 6-month battle, including surgery to remove his leg, we lost him to cancer. In our grief, it dawned on us that the way we were feeding our pets was terrible. Most commercial dog foods today are the equivalent of fast food for pets – designed more for convenience than nutrition.”
This would be just the start of Lori’s new career. One that would combine her passion for taking care of her canine friend with her natural ability to build a business.
Ignite Your Passion
This moment in time was really just the spark of Lori’s journey.
“I sat in front of my computer for hours with a brand new purpose…to discover the most nutritious and wholesome diet for dogs.”
Lori is not unique in that, as humans, when we find something we really love or are really interested in, we tend to go all in. And, as mentioned earlier, to build a successful business you really have to go all in on it.
“I became a maniac on a mission to get the word out about dog nutrition.”
And here is why Lori’s business, and many like it, are able to survive and thrive: people loved her message. Her customers shared a passion for her cause: prolonging canine life. And that is the single key to building a great business: you have to build something people care about.
Once you find that thing that people care about, you can ignite the passion and set it ablaze. Customers and products are merely the fuel that will help you get closer and closer to the cause you care about. The bigger you grow your business, and the more successful it becomes, the more time you get to spend learning, pursuing, and helping whatever it is you want to love most.
For Lori, that took the shape of building a successful pet nutrition business. For you, it could be anything from sports to cooking to journalism. And that is the beauty of entrepreneurship: with enough hard work, pretty much anything is possible