Don’t Follow Your Passion: Top Tips for New Small Business Owners

Nov 14

In a recent Prager University video, actor and producer Mike Rowe explains the dirty little lie we’ve all been told about following our passions to live our dreams. It immediately sounds like a rather depressing and degrading video. However, in reality, he’s absolutely right. You can check out his video here:

There are really so few people that can actually turn their passions into successful businesses. And it’s not to say that you should throw your passions away. If you are looking to become a new small business owner, sometimes it makes sense to find what service or industry works first. Rowe proves that it is possible to start a business that you may not be overly passionate about, but turn it into the success you desire.

To not follow your passion is definitely tip number one when looking to start a new business. Sometimes you need to see where everyone isn’t, as stated in the video. Once you grasp an industry and choose your new small business, here are some other top tips to live by:


  1. Have a vision, make a plan
    Once you’ve picked the small business you desire to run, you must have a vision and a plan. Get them out of your head and onto paper. Share them with your family and your business partner or mentor. A visual representation of your plan and your goals will speak volumes to getting off the ground. Also, be patient and flexible. You may find that your plan needs tweaking along the way and that is all par for the course.

  2. Don’t be afraid of failure
    There’s almost no story of ‘from rags to riches’ that doesn’t include some sort of failure along the way. Failure is good. Failure means learning, growing and becoming stronger. Mistakes and bad decisions are bound to happen. It only matters what you do after the fact. Did you learn something? Did it give you the opportunity to try it another way? Heck! The chocolate chip cookie was a mistake! Sometimes failure is priceless.

  3. Become your brand
    Stand up and shout it from the rooftops! Let anybody and everybody know what you are doing. Be proud of your new business and show it off in every way possible. If you’re not proud and excited for your new business, who else will be?

  4. Take advantage of freebies
    The best things in life are free! Luckily, we live in a day and age where there’s plenty of freebies for marketing and business management. Do the free trade shows (if you can find them), join the free Facebook business groups and most importantly…do social media because that’s free too! You do not need to be a social media whiz to get started. It is important to set-up free accounts across all platforms and get familiar with posting, liking and sharing. It seems these days that you are not a legitimate company unless you have the proper social media channels working for you.

  5. Delegate
    It is very likely that you will find your hours being sucked up very quickly when starting a new business. Great leaders will have a great team behind them that they can trust. When the time is right, you need to find, hire and train a stellar group of employees. What will make the business work best for you is when you learn to delegate. Many business owners tend to micromanage and essentially mismanage their time. If you can’t trust your employees with day to day tasks, then maybe you have the wrong employees or you have a control issue. Delegating tasks is crucial to building and maintaining a great small business.

  6. Do what works (no need to reinvent the wheel continually)
    Often new and budding small business owners think they need to do something completely different from the competition, but often that is not the case. If something is working in your industry, then you should go for it. Sometimes, copying your competitor is actually what works best.

  7. Put the customer first
    I can’t tell you how many times I have had a bad customer service experience from an entrepreneur. I was shocked and quite frankly, disgusted by the way I was treated. When you have a small business, you need to treat your customers like gold. Always have a smile and put on a positive vibe. Work hard to never say ‘no’ or ‘I can’t.’ Leave those phrases on the curb and work on providing exceptional customer service. Even if you cannot help a customer, turn it into a positive. If it means you do not get the sale, don’t worry. When a potential customer has a good experience that only helps enforce a positive reputation.

Final Thoughts

In the beginning of this blog it was suggested that your passions are probably not lucrative and that’s ok. What can happen is that your new business can become your passion. Maybe selling insurance doesn’t sound thrilling, but you find that you are helping people and educating them on making good decisions, which then becomes your passion.

Small Business

In the video, Rowe urges you to follow opportunity over passion to find success. Set your passion aside and search for the opportunity, then the rest is really up to you. Your small business can become your passion and your old passions can remain your hobby.