Follow your Passion? Depends…
Passion. It is what drives us. You have probably read in a number publications and blogs encouraging you to follow your passion. On the surface this may seem like sound advice, but before taking the leap of faith and jumping in the deep end of the pool, you might want to ask yourself these three key questions.
1. Do I have enough passion to turn it into a business or career?
It’s easy to answer yes right now; however, after a while when your labor of love becomes a “job” – something you have to do rather than something you love to do — the question becomes more complicated.
When I was younger I had a passion for SCUBA diving, so much so I dropped out of college to pursue my dream of becoming an instructor. I loved sharing the underwater world with my students; however, the reality of the business is tedious, labor intensive, work. Cleaning and repairing gear, filling tanks, selling the program, treating the pool, leading the groups – all eventually began to overwhelm my passion for teaching. It became a job.
I still love diving as a hobby. I go several times a year for strictly for fun, but I no longer teach. I do find myself assuming dive master duties almost subconsciously, keeping a watchful eye over the group as we drift above the reefs. Whenever I think how cool it would be to still be in the dive business, I remember how quickly it became a job. Make sure you have no illusions, and the fire will burn for a long time.
2. Can I monetize my passion?
Can I produce enough revenue to build a business around my passion? Are there enough people willing to pay me to deliver our shared passion, or is it so narrowly defined it will be difficult to create a viable business? If so, it may make sense to find a job and learn the business side of your hobby first, rather than hang out your shingle right away. Find someone to emulate who is already doing it well and you can learn from them as you discover the scope of the opportunity.
A friend of ours loves animals; in fact her dream was to open a self-serve grooming salon so others like her can treat their pets to a spa day together. The business quickly grew. Customers came from miles away (us included). As demand for additional services grew, she added groomers, then accessories, and has now a thriving business. She learned to generate revenue for the business and has continued to grow.
3. Can I make a living?
This may be the most important of the three questions depending on what stage of life you are at currently. There is a difference between monetizing your passion and making a living at it. It is up to you to decide what that life should look like, the one you visualize achieving as a result of pursuing your passion. A passion is not a just 9-5 job, it is a love affair. The reason you jump out of bed every morning ready to “share the love” of what you do with the world. I think most of us want to make the world a better place, enrich ourselves either spiritually, financially, or culturally. For many of us, selling travel allows us to pursue our own passion of traveling, but we still have to eat and put a roof over our heads.
I have always been somewhat ambitious. One of the first business lessons I learned as a teenager is “It’s all about cash flow”. I quickly figured out how to earn a living teaching diving, a career that typically paid around $20,000 year. Like a restaurant, the faster you can turn the tables, the more customers you can serve, and the more money you will earn. Instead of teaching classes one or two nights a week for 6 weeks like everyone else, I taught on the weekends. There was a huge demand – an opportunity other instructors ignored. Not me; I earned in 2 days what typically took them 2 months. My classes were full, I was doing what I loved, and created a way to earn the living I wanted -not one decreed by “everyone else’s” standards.
The same is true in the travel business. If you answered “No” to any of the questions, you might want to take a step back and reassess your plans. If all are “Yes”, set your own course and jump in – the water’s great!
Dan Chappelle is President of WealthyTravelAgent.com where he develops sales leaders for the travel & tourism industry. He assists sales professionals achieve their full potential by expanding their vision, shifting their mindset, and transforming their businesses to produce tangible results. An internationally known travel industry expert, sales executive, and speaker, Dan has earned an enthusiastic following among travel agents and industry leaders worldwide. He has been featured in numerous trade and consumer publications and is an instructor for the Travel Institutes’ Professional Educators Program, providing insight for travel professionals. He is also the author of The Wealthy Travel Agent to be published July 2016. You can contact Dan by email at Dan@WealthyTravelAgent.com.