starting a business

By Rieva Lesonsky

When it comes to starting a business, is love really all you need? (Apologies to the Beatles.) The saying “Do what you love, and the money will follow” has become a small business cliché. But while it may have inspired thousands of people to leave their jobs and start businesses based on what they love to do, just how true is this truism? Does doing what you love really guarantee success?

Doing what you love can certainly help your chances of success. When you’re starting a business you enjoy and are passionate about, prospective customers can tell. Your joy in your business will make customers feel good about supporting it. Bloggers, reporters and others in the media will feel inspired by your passion, too, and want to spread the word.

Doing what you love also helps you maintain your energy level while starting a business, even when it’s 3 a.m. and you’re only halfway done fulfilling that big order you have to ship out in the morning. It makes you willing to work 24/7 to get your business off the ground.

However, doing what you love also has the potential to hurt your chances for success. How? When you’re doing what you love, you may get so excited just to be doing it that you neglect the business side of your startup. You might underprice your product or service—after all, you’d do this for free, and you’re thrilled anyone’s paying you at all! You don’t bother monitoring your cash flow or even doing much bookkeeping. After all, the money’s going to come, right?

Doing what you love can also blind you to outside opinions of your business. If your business lacks processes or systems, you and your team won’t be very productive—and your employees probably won’t be as excited as you are about working late every night. Or perhaps you’re starry-eyed about your product or service, and so convinced it’s perfect the way it is that you ignore valuable criticism from friends, family and prospective customers.

If doing what you love isn’t the answer, what is? I contend loving what you do is more important when starting a business. There’s an important distinction here.

You may be starting a business based around doing what you love. But in order to make it succeed, you also have to learn to love what you do. That means learning to love (or at least value) every aspect of entrepreneurship—including bookkeeping, making cold calls, packaging your products for shipment, and all the extra stuff that goes along with turning “what you love” into a real business.

If you want your business to succeed, you can’t just do what you love. You have to do the hard, dirty grunt work that makes that dream a viable business. And you’ve got to learn to love it because only then will you have the stamina to stick with it as long as you’ll need to succeed.