Business Inspiration 101: Follow Your Passion or Follow the Money?


People always say to follow one’s passion, but here’s the problem: a lot of people don’t have one. We operate under the guide that passion is fixed, that we grew up knowing what we want to do in our lives. We don’t. Passion is fluid and evolving. It changes with time as we age and gain wisdom. So, whenever people advise you to follow your passion, what passion is that? Your passion now or the things you think you will love in the future?

And at the same time, should you just follow the money? Shouldn’t there be a sense of accomplishment and fulfillment in doing what you love? What if you got stuck working in a security window film company when in your mind, you’ve always wanted to be in real estate or retail or content production?

Following Your Passion

When you follow your passion, that includes ignoring the market and its needs. In today’s pandemic-gripped world, it means pursuing a business in the service industry when it won’t bounce back in the next year or so. It means not finding ways to get a cut of the new markets that emerged such as the need for delivery services, health, sanitation, work-from-home equipment, and the like.

It is true that when you follow your passion (or the thing you love at the moment), you are happier. You are more fulfilled. But what happens when the passion stops? What happens when two years down the road, you found another business idea you want to run? Following your passion is not sustainable. Although you will find pleasure in your work, you will earn less. And when you earn less, as it is true in this world, you will have less resources to do the things you love more—traveling, sending your kids to a good school, saving for retirement, and many more.

So although it’s a nice concept, it doesn’t work for everyone. Some people do what they love (Steve Jobs, for example). They don’t need to ask themselves what they want to do or what they are passionate about. They found their passion in their work. But those are the lucky ones. Not everyone is lucky enough to find a passion, stick to it, and earn from it.

The problem with following one’s passion is that often, you end up hating it and yourself. When it doesn’t go your way, the passion will become work. It will eat you up inside. It will turn something you love into something you abhor doing because you’re sacrificing too much.

Going Where the Money Is

clothes at a store

Is it awful to want to earn more money than follow your passion? If you find a business opportunity amid this pandemic, does it make you bad to want to take advantage of it? Money doesn’t always come with passion and even a job. Some people work only to pay the bills. They don’t even have enough to save for the rainy days. They live in the present—paying bills and making ends meet. Finding their passion is a luxury that they cannot afford when they’re scraping the bottom of the barrel.

So once they found an opportunity where they can get the compensation they want and need, it is that bad to grab it? Following the money provides security. You can get the home you want, and you can save for the bad days in business, too. And when there’s enough in your bank account, you can ponder the idea of doing what you’re passionate about.

For example, do you love making dresses for kids? While that market is highly valuable, there is also a lot of competition. When you have savings in your bank account, it is easier to risk a small business of hand-smocked dresses for little girls. Although business may be slow, it won’t bother you too much because you already have something else that runs smoothly as a well-oiled machine. You have cash flowing into your household, so you aren’t worried too much about how your passion project is faring.

Perhaps, the best advice you can get when thinking of what business to start is to follow what you can contribute to society. What do people need now that you can make a business out of? When you help people better their lives and at the same time, earn enough, isn’t that the best balance between these two worlds—of following the money and your passion? The market always needs something. If you find a solution to that need, along the way, you’ll turn that into your passion, too.

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