The 3 Biggest Things Entrepreneurs Mistake For Their Passion

If you want to follow your passion to success, you first need to know how to recognize it.
Author, Profit First
July 10, 2012

You’ve likely heard it a million times: People who are successful follow their passion. It’s 100 percent true. Yet so many people misunderstand what passion really is; they build a business around something that they’re not really passionate about at all, and then they fail. If you want to succeed, and I am pretty sure you do, you first need to understand what real passion is, and isn't.

A Hobby Disguised as a Passion

People often mistake enjoyment of a hobby with passion. The world is full of entrepreneurs who liked doing something in their spare time and decided to build a business around it, only to find that yes, you can have too much of a good thing. Liking something, or even loving it, is not the same thing as being passionate about it.

Hobbies help you relax, forget and unwind from your day. On the other hand, an activity fueled by passion thrills you, charges you up and makes it difficult to relax because you are so chomping at the bit to learn more, do more and accomplish more in the pursuit of it. You know you’re passionate about your business idea when you work on it all day and into the night, and still get up at dawn to start all over again.

A Hot Trend Disguised as a Passion

Just because it sounds like a good idea, doesn’t mean you should pursue it, and just because it’s the hot new trend, doesn’t mean you should build a business that requires you to do it every single day. It's common for people to mistake a good idea, or having a core competency, skill or talent as having a passion for something.

Even when, on paper, a business seems like a perfect fit, if you’re not passionate about it, you will eventually fail. Either you’ll quit before your business has a real chance, or you’ll make mistakes and sabotage your success so that you can move on and do what you were meant to do with your life. You know you have passion for a business idea when it feels like your life’s calling, and it would help you fulfill your purpose on this planet.

A Quick Financial Gain Disguised as a Passion

If you’re looking forward to the day that you can get out of your business—sell it, close it or hire someone to take over for you—then it’s probably not your passion. Entrepreneurs who are more focused on the quick reward (getting out, or making it big) than the process itself aren’t living or working in their passion.

Passion cannot be satisfied by reaching a specific revenue goal, or by receiving outside recognition. When you are passionate about something you keep moving forward, ever searching for a new way to express it.

Now that you have a better handle on what it actually means to be “passionate about something,” you are better equipped to recognize it when it arrives—and say no to everything else that shows up as passion in disguise.

Now that you know what real passion for an idea looks like, what do you have passion for?

Mike Michalowicz is the author of The Pumpkin Plan (Penguin Books, July 2012) and The Toilet Paper Entrepreneur (Obsidian Press, Sep. 2008). He is CEO of Provendus Group, a consulting firm that helps companies who's growth has plateaued to start moving forward again. His Website MikeMichalowicz.com is full of the latest tips and strategies for entrepreneurs.

Photo credit: Thinkstock

Author, Profit First