Everyone dreams of pursuing their passion. “If only I could just find a way to make money doing what I love,” you’ll hear people say. The allure of spending every precious waking minute of your life pursuing a hobby that puts money in your pocket enters almost every entrepreneur’s mind at some point. While nothing is more satisfying than doing something you love, is it worth it? Will it even work? And how do you avoid turning your hobby into your biggest nightmare?As someone who evolved a passion for travel into a successful company, allow me to walk you through some of the lessons I learned about turning your passion into your business — or as Gary Vaynerchuk’s book Crush It would say, from cashing in on your passion:
1. You need a lot of passion. And then some. Everyone knows that starting a business is a marathon, and if you aren’t completely dedicated, you’ll never survive. But here’s the caveat: you won’t necessarily be passionate about every part of the business. For example, I’m passionate about giving young professionals amazing international experiences, but not necessarily the logistics of it all. The morning before a group arrives, I’m most likely in a hammock, trying to relax and visualize the upcoming experience over a cafe con leche. But when flights get cancelled, and airport pickups for 30 people need to be rescheduled, the business suddenly doesn’t seem so fun to me. Luckily, our Logistics Coordinator Shawna Haggerty lives to get people safely from point A to point B, and she comes in to save the day. Building a company requires a team of passionate people, with different roles and responsibilities — not just a passionate founder.
2. Get ready for mental exhaustion. When you’re as emotionally involved in your business as I am, it takes every last bit of your mental energy. I face clients for five days straight, and I get extremely attached to groups of travelers. If I didn’t care so much about what we do, it wouldn’t take so much out of me — but it does. Think of it like being in a relationship with someone you’re insanely passionate about — you would do anything to make it work. You’re about to experience the same crazy love affair with your business.
3. Watch out — the highs are even higher!
Just like that crazy love affair, the highs in a business you love have an incredible, sometimes blinding, multiplier effect. When you do something you’ve dreamed of your whole life, you are going to enjoy your success even more. How do you think Mark Cuban
felt winning the NBA Championship as the owner of the Dallas Mavericks? However, as Cuban knows better than I do, don’t let this emotional attachment get in the way of your financial judgement. It’s great to love what you do, but you can quickly lose it all with impulsive, emotional decisions.
4. Always remember the money. When I graduated from school and entered the startup world, there was a lot of buzz about building a great product online and figuring out how to monetize it later. The Internet looked like a gold rush, except the actual “gold” was an afterthought in many ventures. When you couple that with doing something that you’d do for free anyway, you might end up doing just that – working for no money. Don’t forget about the bottom line. We started Under30CEO.com because we knew there was a need to help young entrepreneurs, and we loved every second of it. It wasn’t until later when we were flat broke that we figured out how to make the business profitable.
5. Beware of the disappearing fun factor. Owning a business is full of exciting challenges … and terrible, terrible headaches. Be forewarned: if you turn what you do for fun into your business, it might not be fun anymore. That being said, a lot of entrepreneurs who have done this agree that it’s all about perspective. On our Under30Experiences: Costa Rica trip, we hung out with Joe Walsh, who employs more than 90 people at one of the most famous surf camps in the world. Despite whatever logistics and burdens he has, Walsh simply said he has no headaches. He’s in the surf business and owns a microbrewery, and there is nothing anyone forces him to do when he wakes up in the morning, and that was his top priority for starting up.
6. Work-life balance? What’s that? Before, when you weren’t working, you were probably pursuing the hobby you love the most. But now, even your leisure time is considered “work.” Rather that reaching burnout, consider the perspective that the people you work with can be great people to hang out with, since you share a strong common passion. Take the concept of “work friends,” and imagine what happens when all your clients and employees have amazing shared experiences, like we find in the travel business. Within every single group we bring abroad, people find lifelong friendships, business partners, and even romances. If you are a person who needs to completely disconnect from business, then turning your hobby into a company may not be for you. However, when designing your life, if you are okay spending almost all of your time with people you love, with similar passions and hobbies, for better or for worse, go out and make the leap.