Jen’s business was on the rocks but I was a bit surprised when she came into my office and told me she had just taken a job.
Jen’s business was 18 months old, and she had been referred to us for business development to help her capture a new market. Our previous two meetings had focused on identifying possible new revenue streams that would help her grow the business and get it profitable by concentrating on corporate customers.
However, when she came into the office on this morning, she sat as close to the door as possible. As she told us later, she expected us to yell at her when she dropped the bombshell news that she was giving up.
Jen’s rationale made perfect sense to us. She told us that while she could see the value in focusing and building a business with corporate customers, it wasn’t her passion. Since our last meeting, she said she had really done some soul searching. She decided that if she was to continue the business in the spring, she needed to be passionate about it, and the business needed to provide enough money that she wouldn’t need to worry about meeting her expenses.
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I get it. It feels great when you can jump out of bed in the morning and do something you love. I’ve been lucky enough to have created businesses where, for the most part, I’m passionate about doing what I love and I’m paid well for it.
However, there have been times in my career where that passion has been lacking. I remember taking a semester off in college and working outside at -30C in construction. It wasn’t fun, and the frozen fingers and toes made me realize there were more opportunities to be found by going back to college than there were for me in doing something I wasn’t passionate about.
Money is also important. Without making money we face many other stressful challenges.
But the obsessive focus on money by some entrepreneurs and many leaders is misdirected.
In 2001, after struggling with a second business that was bleeding cash, our family income dropped from around $100,000 a year to just $30,000. My wife had quit her job to look after our young children and we had just built a new house. While our mortgage wasn’t big by today’s standards, the lack of cash to pay the bills and put groceries on the table caused considerable stress and anxiety. It’s nice to be passionate about your job, but, at some point, there needs to be a financial payoff to enable you to meet your needs.
We can’t all have jobs that we’re passionate about and we can’t all make the money we feel we deserve. However, when we have a job or a business that we’ve lost the passion for, and we’re not making the money we need to survive, some decisions need to be made.
We all have choices and at times we have to balance passion with money to survive.
Dave Fuller, MBA, is an award-winning business coach and a partner in Pivotleader Inc. Passionate enough to email firstname.lastname@example.org? For interview requests, click here.
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