I hear it all the time… “Why don’t you start a business doing what you love?” While I LOVE meeting successful entrepreneurs who love their work and who overcame endless obstacles and adversity to get there, I want you to know that this particular statement can be a dangerous trap.
- First of all, starting a business is HARD, especially if you’ve never done it before. I’m not saying that to discourage you. It’s just that there is a LOT that goes into simply owning a business that you may not have thought about.
Say you are a fitness fanatic and decide you want to own a gym because you are tired of your boss. As you might suspect, there’s a lot more to it than just being a personal trainer all day. You may be rudely awakened when you find yourself spending all your time trying to deal with unexptected stuff like…
- not having enough membership to cover the rental costs for all those elliptical trainers and other equipment
- dealing with the fall out of one of your mail trainers secretly sleeping with your clients
- spending a fortune on attorney’s fees and wasting your own time in court over said male trainer
- having to deal with financials, sales tax, workers comp, liability insurance, payroll, etc.
- and a slew of other issues and possibilities you may not have considered.
- If you are building this business from scratch, your work will be 10 times harder. Marketing, sales, business plans, and constant pitching (among many other things) are fundamentals of start ups. But if those words make you cringe, you might think long and hard before you start up a business from scratch. (Actually, if those words stress you out, you might totally reconsider your idea of owning your own business at all.)
- Further, if in that business you are doing something you “love” to do, you run the risk of stripping away every ounce of love you had for the activity. That single risk is something to consider long and hard before jumping into owning a business doing something you love.
“What’s the deal with the ‘gloom and doom,’ Betty Jean?!
I want to love my work!”
I want you to love your work, too! I’m just playing “devil’s advocate” and bringing to light some things for you to consider.
I do this because I have made this mistake myself.
The easiest example of this in my life are the 21 years I spent working as a professional musician and singer (from age 4 to 24). I started out in opera. I was a gifted singer at a very young age and that took me a lot of places. When I turned 17, I started to have severe acid reflux which burned my vocal chords and caused me to have to stop singing. I was even mute for a period of time. At the time, the doctors told me I’d never speak again let alone sing. This was devastating for me. But I was determined! This was my life’s passion, my coping skill, my love, and my dream. At 19, I had an experimental reconstructive surgery on my stomach that healed my body and changed my life.
(Side note: this is back in the days when they were just beginning to understand G.E.R.D. (aka severe acid reflux). To put this in perspective, I was in the test group for Prilosec… which never worked for me.)
After years of voice pathology, I did get my speaking voice back (obviously). And during my time healing, I discovered something wonderful: my opera voice was destroyed but out of it, a great jazz voice was born. This was even better! I loved jazz much more than opera. I quickly moved to New Orleans for a summer to start singing with folks down there. I loved it! I was determined to follow my dream no matter what life threw at me! For a couple years, I commuted back and forth between college in the north and singing jazz in New Orleans. This, however, was the beginning of the end.
In New Orleans, I sang a lot. Not as much as I would have liked but enough to pay the bills and have some fun. What people didn’t really know is that I was eating plain oatmeal three times a day because it was all I could afford. This was NOT the lifestyle I wanted.
Over the years, I played more genres of music and started working with various artists all over the country (including playing Willie Nelson’s 4th of July Picnic). To make a long story short, I’ll jump to the end result of 21 years of working to overcome physical pain and the noble effort of making money doing what you love: I fell painfully out of love with music.
How bad? I stopped singing… completely. Until a couple months ago, I didn’t listen to music when I drove. Music was painful for me to even listen to, let alone participate in. I lost all confidence and joy in singing or making music. The passion was gone and it tormented me until 2009. (That’s when I finally released it and allowed myself to see that my desire to create had simply shifted into a new outlet.)
But this personal story has a happy ending. Things are starting to turn around for me this year musically. SXSW 2010 changed my life with great friends and a few choice bands. Plus, I did some back up singing for a great up and coming band a few months ago AND I’ve started listening to music again while I work and drive. So that is all great news! But enough about me…
When is it right to start a business doing what you love?
That depends largely on how well you know yourself. During this article series, we’ll explore a few methods for qualifying whether starting a business doing what you love is the right thing for you. Additionally, I’ll offer some ideas on other ways to love your work life by owning a business or by working for someone else.
There are so many ways to love your work, make great money, and have time to spend doing all the other things you love, too. Don’t be dazzled by the “sexiness” of “entrepreneurship.” Happiness does not come from being a business owner. It comes from stuff like…
- having income that enables your ideal lifestyle
- being able to enjoy the work you choose to do
- and having time to do everything else you want to do in life.
Explore yourself and dig deeper! Start by asking yourself what it is you REALLY want from your every day life (not just what you want to physically do for work).
In the next article, I’ll give you a different definition of Business vs. Job and why it matters when you are considering starting your own business. I’ll also include supporting research and links.
Recommended reading on this topic
- Podcast: The 3 Most Powerful Thoughts that Keep You From Getting What You Want
- Don’t Do What You Love When Starting Your Own Business
- Bad career advice: Do what you love