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Why Passion Is Overrated When Starting A Business

Why Passion Is Overrated When Starting A Business

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Why Passion Is Overrated When Starting A Business

Passion is overrated

Have you ever wondered, “How can I start a business if I am not passionate about my idea?” You’re not alone. I’ve heard this question countless times, but in my experience, most people don’t experience a burning passion for their business idea. The belief that one must be deeply passionate about their business to succeed is everywhere, and while it sounds inspiring, it overlooks the simple fact that not everyone feels an intense passion, and that’s perfectly okay.

This common advice has led to doubts and fears about starting a business for many aspiring entrepreneurs who didn’t have a burning passion for their business idea, stopping their dreams in their tracks.

Related: Why Your Great Idea May Not Be A Good Business

Don’t get me wrong, passion can be a wonderful source of energy and inspiration, but if you’re feeling stuck because you don’t have that overwhelming passion, don’t worry. I’m going to discuss three other factors – which, in my experience, are even more important than passion – that can help you take the next step in starting your business.

Don’t Let Lack of Passion Hold You Back

So, we’ve discussed the idea that passion might not be the secret sauce crucial to business success as commonly believed. But you don’t have to take my word on it:

Billionaire entrepreneur Mark Cuban has been particularly vocal about this. He has stated, “Follow your passion” is easily the worst advice you could ever give or get, and suggests instead to “follow your efforts.” He argues that your passions “aren’t worth a nickel” and that when you work hard at something and get good at it, you tend to enjoy it more and may become passionate about it

Jeff Chapin, co-founder of direct-to-consumer mattress company Casper, calls passion “whimsical” and suggests that there are many things that can captivate you that don’t have to do with your passions. He also warns against turning a hobby into a business, as it could potentially ruin the enjoyment of the hobby.

In the book “So Good They Can’t Ignore You: Why Skills Trump Passion in Searching for Work You Love,” Cal Newport writes, “Telling someone to follow their passion is dangerous” because the vast majority of people do not have a pre-existing passion that can be easily turned into a career or business.

The only other thing I’ll add to why passion is overrated is that passion can blind people from the realities of their business idea. Just because you are super passionate about making high-end designer sock puppets (that’s the best I have right now) doesn’t mean that there are people who would be willing to pay for your puppets. Passion may blind you to market research.

Related: A lot of people want to start a business but don’t – why?

3 Things More Important Than Passion

Knowing Your Why

Rather than fixating on passion alone, uncover your deeper purpose and motivations – your “why.” Your “why” is the core reason you’re starting a business and is a more stable source of motivation than passion alone. It keeps you grounded and focused, even when your initial excitement settles down.

For example, your purpose might be:

  • Gaining more control over your time or location
  • Achieving financial security for your family
  • Making an impact by solving a big problem

Every business faces tough times. When challenges arise, it’s your underlying “why” that helps you persevere. It’s the reminder of the bigger picture and the goals you’re striving to achieve, which can be more compelling than passion in pushing you through obstacles.

You may have noticed that I didn’t include “make a lot of money” as a why. For some, money is a powerful initial motivator, but from what I have experienced, it is rarely a powerful enough why over the long term.

Providing Value

Building a successful business often involves much more than just something that is exciting. Passions frequently shift and fade, so if you’re stuck because you don’t know what type of business to start, get clear on your talents and skills that can solve real-world problems. Approach this by asking, “What skills do you have that people would be willing to pay for?” instead of “What makes me happy? Answering this question means being open to hidden opportunities that you might not immediately recognize.

People have often told me time and time again, “I don’t have any skills.” Surprisingly, so many of us underestimate our abilities because they may seem easy to us, and not recognize the value we can bring to others. You might find yourself in a similar situation, wondering what skills you have that others would be willing to pay for. Let me reassure you – this is a typical feeling. We often overlook our strongest talents and undervalue our most significant skills, and what we can offer to others.

There are plenty of thriving businesses in areas like plumbing, bookkeeping, e-commerce, and many more were sparked by the recognition of an underserved market rather than passion alone.


Another factor that I think is more important than passion is being curious. A business owner that I know started selling printables on Etsy. She took great care in her designs but wasn’t necessarily passionate about printables. Over time, though, she got really interested in learning how to market her business on Etsy. This curiosity caused her business to grow, and then unexpectedly, she started a whole new business, where she began helping others sell their stuff on Etsy. She didn’t know it at the time, but she found a passion in helping others succeed, and while she didn’t start her business with a passion, she found it because she was curious.

This example shows that what you think you may be passionate about today (or even if you aren’t passionate at all), this can change. You might start a business thinking you love one part of it, but then find out you’re actually excited about another part you didn’t expect.

Being curious means you like to learn new things and try new ways of doing stuff. In business, this is really important. Being curious keeps your mind open to these opportunities.

Wrapping Up

As we’ve explored, it’s clear that while passion has its place, it’s not the only – or even the most important – factor in starting and growing a successful small business. So, if you feel stuck wondering, “How can I start a business without passion?” – don’t let it stop you.

I’m curious to learn what questions you still have and provide any insights I can. Did you come in struggling with the question of whether you could (or should) start a business without passion, or are there still fears or obstacles holding you back?

My goal is to support more people in taking the first steps in starting a business, so please let me know below!

Why Passion Is Overrated When Starting A Business

Why Passion Is Overrated When Starting A Business

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