Starting a Business with Your, Gasp, Passion

It's Business Time Picture

Photo Credit: Thomas via Creative Commons


Today’s guest post comes from Diana Antholis, Founder of Enter: Adulthood, an online guide for young adults that shares advice and tips on career, relationship, and life choices to transition into the “real world.”  Diana helps 20somethings design a new career based on their wants and goals to ultimately make them happy and healthy individuals.  She is the author to the Conquer Your Career e-Guide, a four part series on starting, changing, or boosting your career with 100 actionable strategies to start immediately.  Connect with Diana on Twitter @DianaAntholis and Facebook.


All anyone can talk about now is how Generation Y is turning to the entrepreneur generation.  They make it sound so easy based on the latest buzz word:


All the entrepreneurs and people who became entrepreneurs because they sell you products on how to be an entrepreneur tell you to act on your passion if you want to have your own business.

It’s very frustrating.  Especially when you feel so much pressure to figure out your passion.  Then, when you can’t figure it out, you feel like an a$$hole because “who doesn’t know what their passion is?”

Then you start to wonder, “Am I good at anything?  Do I like anything?  What makes me different?  Does watching Jersey Shore count as a passion?  How did everyone else figure out their passions?  Why can’t I be like them?  Am I supposed to be like them?  Is this really possible for me?  Oh gosh, am I boring?  Why do I suck???”

Sound familiar?  Probably because every single person out there thinks through this same dialogue when they know they want to have their own business, but have no idea what it should be.

The truth is this:  There is something that makes you unique.  Whether or not you can turn that into a profitable business though is questionable.  That takes a certain type of personality, hard work, self-motivation, and sheer dedication.  You can’t give up.  You have to be patient.  If those qualities are lost on you, then this whole idea isn’t going to work.  That’s okay.  Don’t be discouraged.  You tried.

For those that are ready for the challenge, I offer you five tips to help you figure out your “passion.”  Let’s not call it passion though, let’s call it “you.”  Yes, that’s right.  This is all about figuring out yourself.  It may seem daunting, but it is totally doable.  Let’s get started.

1.  Flashback 20 years to when you were a cute little child. What did you do?  What did you play with?  What were you most excited about?

For me, that was Barbies.  I had a whole dresser drawer filled with every Barbie imaginable.  (I also collected the Holiday Barbies.)  My Barbies had quite a life: Ferrari, Rolls Royce, huge wardrobe, a complete tropical island set-up with beach chairs and a pool, and Ken.  What more could you ask for?

No wonder I went into the fashion industry.  While I didn’t stay in the fashion industry, I’ve always been tied to it.  I also played teacher, restaurateur, and started my own children’s playgroup.  I use aspects of all of these passions in my life now.

If you are having issues with this, ask your parents or guardians at that time in your life.

2.  Flashback to high school and college. (I’m sorry if you just cringed with terrible memories but go with this.)  What were your favorite courses?  Get creative.  Was it Wood Shop?  Home Economics? Sewing?  Painting?  Gym?  Creative Writing?

Some examples of businesses that pertain to the above courses:
Wood Shop = a DIY wood carving website that also sells custom made pieces
Home Economics = recipes of your favorite foods; decorating for entertaining; or wedding planning
Sewing = sell clothes you’ve made; sell clothes others have made; how to sew

You get the idea.  You have to get creative with what you enjoy doing.  Pick something and create a niche target market.  So if you start a website on how to sew, you can choose to market it to new mothers who want to make all of their baby’s clothes at home, with organic materials.

3.  Role models. Who do you look up to?  Who do you want to be like?  Who are you insanely jealous of?

What is drawing you to those people?  Their personalities?  Their skills?  Jealously is a great way to figure out what you want to do.  Usually that envy stems from wanting to be successful in the same light.

4.  Your best grades, evaluations, and compliments. What classes did you excel in?  What did your teachers or professors say about you?  What are your strengths?  What do people compliment you on?

This is hard.  We often don’t focus on our strengths, only our weaknesses.  Pay attention to what people say about you.

I’m an excellent planner.  I am so detail oriented that I blow people out of the water when I plan parties.  Sometimes I absolutely hate planning, but those skills are necessary for much of my career and personal life and I enjoy it when it’s something I really want to do.

5.  Feedback. So you’ve attempted to do the last four tips yourself and you are getting nowhere.  Never fear!  If you ask people, they will surely love to talk to you about you.  Your family and friends know you best as you are in a relaxed state with them.  But don’t discount your coworkers and supervisors.  They observe you.  They see how you are and what you are good at.  They will probably pick out things you didn’t even know about yourself.

Got Passion?

Have you figured yourself out yet?  Maybe, maybe not.  But hopefully this gave you some ideas.  Also note that you don’t have only one passion!  You have many.  But choosing what to act on in terms of a business or side business is the hard part.  Personally, I have many ideas that I would love to execute.  I chose one route for now and I’m happy with it.  But you never know what could happen in the future.  You have to stay open and flexible to change.  You and your business will continuously evolve.


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Like advice from a wiser, funnier, older brother Paul's been there, done that, and wants to save you some pain and some trouble.

– Seth Godin, New York Times bestseller and author of The Icarus Deception

  • Diana Antholis

    Hi Paul! Thank you! :)

  • Alexis

    “Passion” has definitely become one of Those Words, like “authenticity” or “clarity.” I think it makes people think that there is ONE thing, the be-all-to-end-all thing, and let’s be honest – that is a scary concept.

    I like how you approach this topic; the idea that this is a process, an evolution, makes it much more approachable.

    • Diana Antholis

      Hi Alexis! Thank you for your kind words! I like that you said this is a process and evolution – it totally is. It is not one thing and then you are done. We always have to think about change and where that change will take us. And more importantly – be open to the change because it could lead us down the right path. :)

  • admin

    Diana I love this post because I remember all too well the helpless feeling/sickness of not having a clue what I was passionate about. Then you just feel stuck because how do you move forward? I think you’ve outlined some great points here to get us thinking about “us” and what we really want out of this life. I’m always surprised on how many of us go through life never really answering that one question.

    • Diana Antholis

      Paul, that is totally true about never really answering the question. We need to dig deep and really reflect on what gets us going in life. The brilliant part is that there is no wrong answer! It’s all true. Thanks for having me in your lovely all groan up home. :)

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