“You don’t always need to do what you like, but you must like what you do”. This little bit of wisdom comes from Seth Godin and on reflection it confirms an insight that I had a few weeks ago as I grapple with the ins and outs of my startup.
The insight was about business being a profession and to have a wildly successful business, you have to be proficient in the art and science of business. Now that might seem obvious, but is it? Well, for me, not so much, I have always seen a business as an amalgamation of other professions such as marketing, law, accounting, human resources, etc., when in fact business is a profession on its own, it is a way of looking at all aspects of your business making decisions that will make the business more profitable and grow to its potential. So, what is a business? A definition that I found useful is an organisation or economic system, where goods and services are exchanged for one another or for money. Learning how to make decisions, take risks and solve problems in the most profitable and effective way is what the profession of business is all about.
Yes, of course you need skills in the other professions, but that is not the focus. People spend many years refining and honing their skills in a particular profession, like marketing or accounting, so what makes us think that we can have a successful business without spending the same amount of time on the profession of business?
This is where the light bulb moment happened for me, as I have been grappling with this thing called passion and finding a problem to solve in my passion area, where what I should have been doing is finding a real problem to solve that people will pay money for and learn how to run a business around that. The problem with passion is that it comes with a load of emotion and we get tied into the product or service on an emotional level, which clouds our judgment with regard to making the right business decisions.
I know that for many people it started with a passion, but for many more it started with a problem and then using the profession of business to solve the problem in a way that creates success.
That leads me back to Seth’s words. “You don’t have to do what you like”, meaning, in my mind, you do not have to create a business in your passion area, but “you must like what you do”, meaning that if you do not like or understand the profession of business it will probably be harder for you to be successful.
So what does this mean for me? Well, I am currently working on a business idea that focuses on finding a problem people want solved and then learning how to build a successful business around it. I will be spending all my time accelerating my learning and understanding in the profession of business.
Once I have attained success, I will use my time and money to follow my passion.