In our culture we equate amateur with “less than fully competent.” The implication is if you aren’t making money at it, you must not be any good. Your passion is admirable, but it’s just a hobby.
‘Amateur‘ comes from the French meaning ‘a lover of‘.
How is it we live in culture where we are thought of more highly if we make money from something than if we ‘just’ love it. Why is ‘professional’ inherently more valuable than ‘amateur/lover’?
There are amateur painters, bakers, mechanics, and astronomers who are as gifted and as in love with their discipline as their professional counterparts.
There is a bigger and darker problem this all leads to: the lie of “do what you love and the money will follow“.
It is a lie, make no mistake. The blind belief in a causal relationship between passion and revenue is a set-up for disaster.
If you are doing what you love and you are making money, you are blessed and can be grateful every day. But in the world of lifestyle or old-economy businesses, the roadways are littered with the shells of businesses, bankruptcies and broken dreams.
The heartbreak goes on for miles because some misguided “business coach” who has sipped from the goblet of “The Secret” and ‘the law of attraction’ one too many times has uttered those fateful words: “Go for it! Open that restaurant/clothing store/art gallery! Do what you love and the money will follow!!”
Being a brilliant cook and running a restaurant are two profoundly different disciplines. It is sloppy thinking to assume anything more than a limited connection between the two. It is irresponsible to advise someone to open a gallery just because they love art.
The Passion Pays
And what of the cost to the passion itself?
Do you really want to take something you love and burden it with the obligation to make money? That pressure has a way of making good things taste bitter.
If you want a real chance at creating a business with what you love, you must love business as much as you love what you love. If you love the challenges of marketing, the puzzles of inventory and food costs, the intricacies of human (customer and employee) psychology, the stresses of money… and you happen to understand paint and colour better than anyone you know, a painting business might be just your thing.
But that combination of skills and passions is rarer than we think.
Do What You Enjoy – And Learn To Read a Balance Sheet
A positive alternative? If you really want to be in business, build or buy a business doing something you like; something you don’t mind. Then focus on the business. Spend time learning how a business really works; make that your passion. A good business built on something you don’t mind adds a lot more value to your life than a struggling business built on something you love.
Celebrate the thing you love as an amateur, and don’t worry about trying to make money with it. Focus on deepening your skills and your passion, and show the world you don’t have to make money at something for it to have profound worth.
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