How important is passion in starting your business?

By Jill Chivers

There’s a whole sub-industry of people working in the field of “passion”. I believe the passion craze was either started by Oprah or was fuelled by her. Oprah shares openly about how passion is so important for us all in living wonderful lives.

And passion has its place. It certainly does.  And I believe in passion, and there’s nothing quite like being so fired up by your business that you can barely get to sleep at night.

The truth about passion

But here’s the truth about passion. You do not need it to start a business, and you do not need to keep a business going.

Not that hellfire, burning, crazy, raging passion anyway. Sure, you need enthusiasm – you’ve got a lot of miles coming up ahead of you so you need to be excited about the journey. Plus, you’ll need that enthusiasm to help keep you going when times get tough. Which they will.

Which is why I say sustained enthusiasm is a core ingredient in any business. Which is not necessarily the same thing as passion.

When you think about passion, what comes up for a lot of people are romantic relationships, or burning attractions between two people. Consenting adults, hopefully. And if you’ve ever experienced that kind of all consuming passion, you know how utterly irresistible it can be. It can be like a drug.

Passion wears off

Passion wears off – that hellfire passion variety, anyway. And it’s intended to. As Woody Allen quips in “Play It Again, Sam” – “You can’t expect me to keep up that level of charm, I’d have a heart attack”.

And so it is with our businesses. Businesses, in many respects, are like relationships. They follow a similar pattern, starting with the honeymoon phase, often characterized by great zeal and excitement for the new venture, which is all stretched out ahead of you. But like any relationship, your business moves on from that initial period of dizzying emotion.

Which is why you need much more than passion to “qualify” you as a person ready to start a business. And it’s also why passion is not necessarily required. I’d suggest that sustainable enthusiasm, a business mindset and a set of strong business skills is your better bet.