Q. What are your best tips for turning a passion into your profession?
– Sally, North Dakota
The following answers are provided by the Young Entrepreneur Council. Founded by Scott Gerber, the Y.E.C. is a nonprofit organization that provides young entrepreneurs with access to tools, mentorship, community, and educational resources that support each stage of their business’s development and growth. The organization promotes entrepreneurship as a solution to youth unemployment and underemployment.
See the value in yourself.
When you first brainstorm business ideas, you may doubt that anyone will ever pay you to do what you love. Remind yourself that people will pay for what they need, and that the activity you love may be out of the realm of possibility for a client. For example, you’re willing to pay the plumber to fix that leak because it’s outside your skill set. What can you do that others can’t?
Embrace the fear.
If you’re terrified, you’re on the right track. Ignore the naysayers. Turning your passion into your profession is risky, especially if you’re starting out on your own. I worked for free for a bit before I was approached by my first client to serve as their director of marketing. Embrace the fear, dream big, and when everything works out, it makes the victory that much sweeter.
Put in the effort.
The best way to turn your passion into your profession is to start publishing your knowledge on a topic every single day. If people like what you have to say and benefit from it, you will have potential clients to work with on a consulting or advertising basis.
Recognize that passion as passion can be different from passion as a business.
Start viewing your passion as a business. If you can do it as a side hustle while you are still working I would suggest you do so. Learn the ins and outs about your passion as a business. Are you willing to charge people for what you love to do? Who else is doing the same thing? Learn and simultaneously act on turning your passion into a business, from where you are, with what you have.
Improve your business skills.
You’re probably already pretty good at your passion but in order to turn this into a profitable venture, you’re going to need to have all sorts of other skills — such as marketing, business strategy, finance, and more. If you can put as much time and effort into these areas of your business as you do into your passion, you’ll have a greater chance of success.
Embrace your uniqueness.
Figure out what sets you apart from everyone else who is just as enthusiastic about your passion as you are. Embrace that unique quality and build upon it. When your work is also your passion, you’ll need to make a living from it, and having a niche will allow you to do that much more easily.
Test the waters before you jump in.
You may want to try the business out part-time while keeping your day job. This may allow you to determine if you have a profitable business model before giving up the security of your full-time job.
Make sure it’s really a passion.
A passion has to grip you — it keeps you up at night, occupies your waking thoughts, serves as a lens through which you see the world. Anything else is a passing interest, and you won’t have the perseverance for the ups and downs of entrepreneurship. First, make sure it’s a true passion. (Shameless plug: I talk about exactly this in my two recent books; I can make excerpts available.)
Just get started! Do a little every day.
Turning a passion into a profession can be a lot of work — no matter how fun and rewarding it is. Don’t wait until you have every single puzzle piece in place to get started. You may only be able to dedicate 15 minutes a day — but START ANYWAY. Everyone starts somewhere, and that will allow you to build momentum over time.
Do what you love, and the money will follow.
When I graduated college, most of my friends took high paying jobs in law and finance. I loved jewelry, and chose to be a sales rep for an accessories company making low-end jewelry for juniors. My base salary was negligible, but I had a commission component. By the end of the year, I made more money than all my friends, because I loved what I did every day. I now own my own company.
– Vanessa Nornberg, founder of Metal Mafia
Be ready for a little less passion once you get started.
The thing about turning your passion into your profession is that something you love will become work. That’s not necessarily a problem, but it can mean letting go of a little passion and letting something you once loved become a little more ho-hum. You have to be ready for that beforehand or you can wind up burned out on something enjoyable.