6 Reasons Why Passion Makes a Bad Business Plan

Everyone, it seems, has the quit-my-job-and-start-a-business bug. You may have been infected by it, too.

You dream of being your own boss. Of being that lucky person who gets to tell your friends that you’re crushing it by doing work you love.

But let me be straight with you:


All that passion you have for that idea? It isn’t enough.

If it were, then every yoga teacher and bread maker would be a millionaire. 

Don't get me wrong. Passion is a necessary ingredient to your success and I believe more people would benefit from reconnecting to their passion and aligning their values with the work they do. 

But here's the deal: Working for yourself is hard. It’ll challenge you in ways you never expected. And likely, your bank account and sleep cycle will suffer at some point. 

Those days you dream of, the ones where you see yourself blissfully doing work you’re passionate about, making loads of cash and spending half the year in Bali? Yeah, not likely. Look, statistically speaking, 
you’ll work far more hours and take less time off (at least in the beginning) than you’re employed brethren. And the percentage of business owners that live nomadic lives and swim with dolphins every day is infinitesimally small. 

 (Sorry folks but somebody’s gotta call it out.)

Is it possible? Oh, YES. 

By all means - go for it. Trying is important if it's important for you to try. And while you do, here’s a few things to keep you in check

1. Feeling good doesn’t pay the bills

Too many early solo/entrepreneurs get sucked into the idea that feeling good should be the primary driving factor of business (or life, in general). Fact is, it's easy to mistake being lazy for feeling good. For as long as the savings account or startup funding can support you this kind of feeling good is ok. Then, the money goes buh-bye and that most definitely does not feel good.

Suddenly, you have to do things that don’t feel good to make the cash flow. You have to crunch numbers to get the facts. You have to shift your message to fit the market. You have to meet demand, not expect demand to rise up around you. Not necessarily fun, but essential.

2. Nobody is as passionate about you or your product as you are

It happens to the best of us. We get this idea that if I’m passionate about this then everybody else will be, too! Sorry, love. El wrongo. Passion fuels the engine that creates the product or service, but smart planning and great marketing are what sells it.

3. 1% of the market is not a guarantee

As a judge in several entrepreneur competitions, I can’t tell you how many times I've heard contestants tell the panel, with wide-eyed optimism and earnestness, that "all they have to do is capture 1% of their target market".

As if 1% were easy.

1% of a market is a goal, not a guarantee. And it will require a lot of hustle, compromise and – importantly - a grasp on realistic conversion and close rates.  

4. Your first idea is not necessarily a good idea

Be wary of feeling overly excited or optimistic about an idea at its inception. Lots of folks take that initial idea and run with it – planned out or not. And most fail.

I’m not saying you shouldn't leap. Yes, please do. But if you find that you need to shift mid-air before doing a face plant (or end up face down), don’t be surprised. Think of it as part of the learning curve. And remember that the most successful entrepreneurs have learned to iterate. 

Alternatively, treat your passion idea like a seed. Download a workbook to work through your idea. Hire a career or business coach to set the stage. Let it grow slowly.  

5. Supporters are not your buyers

As you develop your product or service it’s natural to have other people encouraging you along the way. Brilliant! Beautiful! Genius! they’ll exclaim. But they won’t buy it.

The people who support you are not always the people that buy your product or service. They are not your market and not who the product or service is for. Be wary of getting sucked into the excitement and keep your smarts focused on who your market really is and what they want.

6. You aren’t different

I know, I know. Everybody is a unique flower in the field. Your mama told you you’re special.

But there are laws that govern reality, like gravity and inertia, and there are laws of business. Those laws apply to you no matter how different you think you are. 

Laws like: Know your market. Keep track of your cashflow. Choose partners wisely. 

Yes, all laws can and will be broken. And you should try – innovation was never based on people doing it the same way. But, please, have a back up plan.

When we’re high on passion it’s easy to pish-pish the brass tack practicalities of starting a business. It’s easy to believe that our idea and the burning love we have for it will see us through. Instead of resting on the feeling alone, use that energy to create real momentum and real cash to fuel you through to a real business.