Passion or profit, which should you care about, listen to, and follow? This is a question that comes up in the business world (especially with startups) often, and much like ‘Nature vs Nurture’ everyone wants a clear cut, black and white, simple answer.
But that isn’t how business works, and it certainly isn’t how life works. So, instead of giving you a simple answer, let’s talk about the benefits and pitfalls of both passion and profits, as well as the ways they connect.
I think the true answer to ‘passion vs profit’ isn’t nearly as simple as many entrepreneurs would have you believe.
The Pitfalls of Profit
Yes, gaining and increasing profit is what most businesses are all about when it comes down to it, but this cannot be your one and only goal. If it is, you might have a successful business, but you will end up with more than a few enemies, unhappy employees, a bad reputation, and maybe a bad soul, too.
Those who say profits should be number one are being pragmatic, but they are also oversimplifying the debate by narrowing it down to the argument that a business with profits, but no passion can survive, whereas the opposite (a business with no profits but passion) is not sustainable.
The above may be true, but a business without passion is still doomed as well, it just might make some money along the way.
The Benefits of Profit
This one should be easy to see. As I said above, a business without passion but that has profit flowing in can survive, which does mean that profit is important.
Additionally, when your business starts making money, you feel better about your investment, about your business idea, and even about yourself. Having your hard work pay off is not a bad thing, and it should be celebrated – albeit in moderation.
The Pitfalls of Passion
Passion is often talked about as if it is the ultimate goal and best characteristic of entrepreneurs, but really, passion is just a piece of the puzzle.
Without balance, you really aren’t going to find success, instead, you’ll burn yourself out, burn others out, and potentially run your business into the ground.
Passion is a lot like profits in a way – meaning you need both, but in moderation and within a delicate balance.
Only caring about one thing (either passion or profits) will not ultimately serve your company, your customers, or your employees in the long run.
The Benefits of Passion
Just like we talked about for profits, the benefits of passion are easy to see. Passion makes you believe in something, work hard for it, and keep trying even when there are obstacles.
This is why I disagree with the argument that says a profitable business without passion can survive, because it really can’t. It might make money for a while, but if you aren’t willing to fight to keep it going, and you don’t take any enjoyment out of your business and success, then you are just as doomed to failure as the passion-filled, unprofitable business.
So, What’s the Answer?
The False Solution: Passionate About Profits
No, this is also not the answer to the age-old passion vs profit debate, as this is really just ‘profits in a new costume. If you are only passionate about your profits, then you aren’t actually passionate – you just love money.
Instead of choosing the above (often promoted) solution, go a little deeper and choose a ‘both/and’ answer instead of an ‘either/or’ answer.
Meaning, choose both passion and profit, not just one of the other, but balance them both with each other, common sense, your internal compass, and the advice of those close to you that you trust.
The Real Solution: Make Your Passion Profitable
You need to be passionate, and you need to be profitable, but there is no reason you cannot be both. Use the good parts of both of these goals to temper the bad parts, and make your passion profitable without losing your passion, or missing out on profits.
Easy to say but harder to do? Take a look at my company, which I am passionate about (as is my entire team), and which is highly profitable.
JSL Marketing & Web Design started out because my wife and I wanted to help the Dallas market and local businesses succeed, and because we were passionate (but tempered with common sense and healthy limits) we were able to make it a success, which increased out profits.
We still do the same today, using our passion to help our profits, and our profits to assist our passion.
This is the true answer to the old debate of passion vs profit: it isn’t either/or, it’s both/and.