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Passion Is the Enemy of Modern Entrepreneurs

Basing your business plans on passion is a big mistake. Here’s why.

You’ve probably heard it time and time again, the old mantra of “find what you’re passionate about and do that for business.” However, this is usually a recipe for failure, and, if you take that advice at face value, your chances of success in the modern business world are not very good.

Now before you go get your pitchforks and burn me at the stake, let me explain.

Currently, we think that passion means “that which we love, and feel motivated to do.” Most people take that advice and start searching for business ideas to make them feel good.

However, notice something very important in that definition. If you use it as a basis to start your business, you’re starting with the idea that it’s all about you and what makes you feel good. 

But what will happen when things get tough? What happens when business is no longer comfortable and enjoyable?  

My point is, if your motivation to grow the business is predicated on how you feel, you’ll be more likely to quit when things get hard…and believe me, in modern businesses and startups, things always get hard. 

So, is having passion wrong?

No. It’s not that passion shouldn’t be a part of our plan to start a business; but, instead, it’s actually our definition of what passion is that is wrong and needs to be changed. And that starts with understanding the original intention of the word “passion” — not the colloquial, modern use.

The Original Meaning of Passion

“Passion” wasn’t originally about self-interest or what makes us feel good – far from it, actually.

The word Passion comes from the Latin word “Passio” which means “a willingness to suffer for others.” It was less about positive feelings and more about determination. Being willing to suffer in order to accomplish one’s goals. Being truly motivated so that, no matter the cost or hardships, you’ll do whatever it takes.

Now, doesn’t that feels a lot more like a true entrepreneurial journey? 

So, passion when it comes to business isn’t supposed to be about what makes us feel good. It’s about a strong and barely controllable emotion that drives us forward when others would stop. It propels us to keep going. 

That’s the real definition of passion we entrepreneurs must take for practice.

It Doesn’t Need to Be About Your Customers, Though

Passio is about suffering for others, but it doesn’t necessarily need to be for your customers. You don’t have to love your customer to the point that you’re ready to suffer for them in order to succeed. 

Instead, it could be for a cause or a purpose. Some entrepreneurs rally around overcoming an obstacle or facing a giant. Others find passion in what the entrepreneurial journey will bring them. In a way, this is sort of like what Matthew Turner said in his discussion on needing both passion and purpose.  

For me, it was my family. Being in the military, I was constantly being deployed and missed many birthdays. Instead, my goal was about being home with my family and being able to support them as much as possible.

That was my passio. That’s what I was willing to suffer for. That’s what got me up at 4am every morning. That’s what kept me going, even when things got really tough – and they did. I was not going to let my children down or miss another Christmas being deployed for the military. I was going to do whatever it took!

But it doesn’t just stop there. If you read any of the Influencive articles interviewing top entrepreneurs about their stories, you’ll see what became their true Passio, and what drove them beyond what feels good. Examples include podcasting legend John Lee Dumas, skateboarding exec Tony Hawk, or even music producer Ryan Leslie. No matter what, each person had a unique passion beyond just serving a customer or what made them feel good.  

So, whatever is the root of your passio, ensure it’s deeply developed and know it does not need to be the customer that makes your passion real.

Passio vs. Passion

So, the real question for you as an Entrepreneur is whether or not you’re ready to suffer.

If you start your business due to self-interests, will you stick with it when the going gets tough? Will you keep at it, hustling as hard as you can when it no longer interests you or isn’t fun anymore?

No. Like many other entrepreneurs before you, you’ll stop. You won’t go that extra mile and you’ll quit before you see the light of day. This reminds me of the comic strip where one man is digging and is mere inches from reaching diamonds but at the last second gives up, while another man is vigorously digging and on course to reaching those same diamonds.

So, ask yourself:

Are you ready to suffer for the purpose of your business and see it through?

If the answer is no, then find something else or find a real reason for making it a yes. If yes, then get started. But, whatever you do, don’t use the modern version of passion to decide the purpose of your business.


Written by Dave Chesson

Dave Chesson is the founder of Publisher Rocket, a book marketing software and is the leader behind, one of the largest websites on self-publishing and marketing. Having been a nuclear engineer and international arms dealer, Dave has a unique experience with globalization, and the modern virtual business.

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