Why Following Your Passion Is Bad Advice

In this business of blogging, one of the most common pieces of advice that you probably hear is that of following your passion. And usually, when people are talking about starting up an online business, it usually starts out with the idea of brainstorming what your passion is and starting out with your passion. Basically…

In this business of blogging, one of the most common pieces of advice that you probably hear is that of following your passion. And usually, when people are talking about starting up an online business, it usually starts out with the idea of brainstorming what your passion is and starting out with your passion.

Basically you just keep on hearing this word “passion”.

And I’m here to tell you that it could be very well be that that’s very dumb advice.

Now, let me put this in your perspective. Am I telling you not to build a business around something that you love? Absolutely, not. But what I am telling you is that – just because your passionate about it does not make it into a business.

It just so happens that most of us have a lot of passion that just don’t turn into businesses very well. It’s just a fact of life. So, what you need to be thinking in terms of business is… you want to be thinking in terms of solving a problem. You want to solve a problem for a target market. You want to really get into the minds of a problem that they’re having and you want to provide the solution to it.

It’s that simple. That is actually far more important in terms of building up a real business than basing it around your passion. In fact, there are many, many examples out there of very successful businesses that are not based around the passion of the owner. They simply created a business which was just designed to solve a problem.

So, with that in mind, let’s look at this world of blogging. Let’s look in terms of creating an “information based” online business. Instead of starting out with what you personally find interesting or starting out with your passion or your hobbies or something like that, why don’t you throw all that out the window and instead, start brainstorming problems that you can help people solve?

It’s that simple!

And really, if you start into this with that mindset, you’re probably going to put yourself a lot further down the road toward monetization because you now have the basis of providing real solutions. People are out there buying things usually to find a solution to a problem.

So, to summarize this, it could very well be that your passion and solving of somebody else’s problems… align. If what you’re passionate about also solves a big problem for people, then that’s awesome. Ideally, that is exactly what will happen.

But, in the cases where your passions and what is going to create a real business don’t align, get on the side of fixing somebody’s problem for them. If you could be really, really, really good at finding problems and really starting to learn about the problem, all the ins and outs of that problem, really what the pain points are of the market and really almost to a point where you can outline and understand that problem even better than they can, THAT is something that you can then go out and find a solution for them and build a business around it.

And it could be quite frankly be that blogging isn’t really what you want to do. Maybe creating a piece of software to do that might make a lot more sense. There are a lot of things that can be done here. But the thing is, it all needs to be based around solving a problem for a target market. Just because you’re passion is about it really doesn’t matter all that much.

So, whenever you hear some professional blogger like hammering home “start out with your passion”… take it with a grain of salt. It’s an incomplete story.

A passion does not create a business. Solving a problem for people who are actively looking for a solution… that creates businesses. And if you can combine the two – that’s where you’d really would like to be. But sometimes it doesn’t work! But solving people’s problems, that always does!


  1. Excellent because you hit it on the head. Your passion does not equate a successful business. You have to solve a problem or provide a person with something of value that they can use for fun or pleasure. I looked at my passions and they are not passions that can solve problems and even though they can be used for pleasure, it doesn’t mean that people are willing to blow money on them just because they like them.

    I really like what you said and it needs to be at the top of your post. Passion is not going to get it but instead solving a problem.

  2. I’m one of those that believe it starts with passion. But I also see it the other way as well, it’s a tough call.

    – Basically, you need motivation one way or another. Motivation keeps you going through the tough times and gets you past all the challenges and obstacles. It doesn’t matter how logical or how easy your business fits together because nothing stays easy and simple over the years. Competitors show up, markets change, people change, times change, everything goes…and if you don’t have the motivation, your business won’t make it.

    if you’re the kind of person that’s only motivated by money and can’t dream of anything else other than how rich you’re going to be and how nice your big house and car will look, well then yes, money motivation is all you need.

    On the other hand, if you’re motivated by your passion, that can be all you need. It’s true that you might not make as much money as a dollar-oriented person, but you certainly can make a big difference in the world and leave your imprint on your passion. You can change things forever and give yourself something to do for years to come. Or you can be a serial entrepreneur and keep jumping ship from one startup to another.

    At the end of the day, you can decide for yourself if you wanted to make a ton of money, or actually made a difference in the world, or even both. But it’s silly to think you can live a fulfilled life without passion in what you do.

  3. David, for years I’ve been waiting for someone to talk about this myth. Nearly every online marketer I’ve seen over the last ten years has used that premise. Follow your passion and the money will follow. I’ve learned many, many times in working with clients their passion doesn’t translate into revenue.

    You gotta be passionate about what you want or what you’re doing. But passion should be used a driving force. Not as a key point in a business plan.

    It took guts to share that post. Not surprised it was you.

    Your authenticity continues to impress me.

  4. Great timing – reading this post. This really makes sense Dave.

    Just this morning I stumbled across a niche that both matches my passion and solves a problem – almost an exact example of what you are describing here.

    BTW, enjoy the cruise. 🙂

  5. Right on, David. I’m reading “The E-Myth Revisited” and this post falls right into alignment with the author’s point about being a successful business owner.

  6. Yup you are right. I personally HATE when Guru folks and blog talking head blab about Passion as a key driver to business success. My passion ain’t got squat to do with my success. My success in business depends solely on my ability clearly understand the burning needs/problems facing my target market and then being able to deliver results to meet their problems and get paid for it.

    Passion is selfish and it’s all about oneself. When focused on meeting the burning needs of your target market it’s all about them and never about you. Once you know the problems and have crafted your own unique solution to the problem, to really make bank, then you have to study direct response marketing like it’s going out of style and implement the heck out of it. What good is your unique solution to a problem is no one knows about it?

    1. Well, I think Rich (below) makes a good point in that your passion can be on your business, and doesn’t have to be on the nature of the product you’re providing.

  7. Good post.

    Everyone has to accept the fact that in business you do not have a right to make a profit.

    You have to earn your keep.

    If you’re humble enough to follow success to where it takes you there’s no telling how you could experience your true potential.

    Example: You may have a dream of becoming a hair stylist and end up selling a line of hair care products instead. Or have a dream to be a NASCAR driver and end up selling custom cars.

  8. Great provocative title, David!

    You’re absolutely right that many businesses are successful w/o the founder possibly having a passion about the type of business he or she is in. (Port-o-potties come to mind.)

    Still, those people probably have a passion for the art of business, and profitability, and follow their passion that way, irrespective of the widget they’re selling.

    I will say that I wouldn’t be able to get through the grunt work on my own business if I didn’t have passion for what I’m doing.

    I can’t imagine a business succeeding w/o passion, you just need to determine where your passion lies. It may be in the product or service, or it may be in another aspect of your business.

    Good post, and thanks for sharing.

      1. I totally agree with @Rich’s point.

        It’s the passion behind the scenes that pushes me forward in times when I am frustrated but again without a business that first provides a solution to a burning pain/problem that your target market is experiencing and a direct response way to market and sell your products/service nothing is going to happen. Plain and simple!

        @David thanks for another thought provoking post!

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