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Why the Saying: “Pursue What You Love and Money Will Follow” is Wrong

We have heard the saying often and have for so long believed it to be true:

“Pursue what you love and money will follow”

So many of us blindly follow this advice without recognizing the sad truth: this advice has no merit whatsoever.

Don’t agree? Allow me to go into detail as to why following your favorite hobbies or pastimes for profit could take you only a little passed nowhere.

Hobbies are often unprofitable

There isn’t always consumer demand associated with products or services that would accompany your hobby or favorite activity. Thus, not all hobbies or pastimes are profitable to pursue as business ventures or careers.

Take painting for example. While you can thoroughly enjoy painting and be quite an accomplished artist, chances are your work won’t sell for that much money.

There are very few artists who become famous or make a lot of money in their art. In fact, usually the ones that do produce valuable work are broke during their lifetime, and the work only gains value once the artist dies.

Thus we see that favorite hobbies and pastimes are not always the ideal to pursue, since there isn’t always money that follows. If you want money to come naturally, pursue where the demand is, not what you love.

Hobbies don’t always translate well to jobs

There is no guarantee that a hobby will translate into a job or set of tasks that you will enjoy.

Let’s pretend you enjoy keeping fish as pets.

Does caring for fish mean you will enjoy running a retail store selling exotic salt water and fresh water fish? No! You may hate retail, which will cause you to hate your job.

There might not be any work related tasks you would like about your hobby. You might hate writing about fish, teaching about fish care or installing fish tank equipment for customers.

Turning a hobby into a business may ruin the fun of it and you may prefer keeping it strictly as a hobby. Therefore, pursuing what you love for gain may lead you to perform work related tasks that you hate.

Why this saying is so widely believed

If pursuing what you love does not always bring you money, why is the saying so widely believed and repeated?

The saying is believed because when you are doing what you love, time seems to go by more quickly and you enjoy what you are doing so much that it hardly seems like work.

You will have more stamina to do what you love and more passion to create.

However, this holds true not only to hobbies, but also with work related tasks…

What this saying really means

Pursuing the pastimes or hobbies you love will NOT always bring you money. Instead, in order for money to follow, you should pursue the type of work and work related tasks you enjoy.

While hobbies don’t always translate well into enjoyable jobs or tasks, work that complements your personality and work ethic will.

Pursuing the type of work you love will allow you to enjoy your role in your company. You will be empowered by the kind of work and tasks your role brings and will be much more invested in your business and its success.

When I started college…

I registered to be a computer science major. I loved technology and anything computer related. I figured computer science would be a logical choice for me to major in since I enjoyed the subject so much.

Not long after I started college, I realized that I would much rather manage or lead. In fact I would much rather manage a flower company than to sit at a desk all day coding.

I have no passion for flowers, but I love managing and leading. Managing and leading aren’t hobbies, they are roles and jobs. I came to the realization that when looking to earn a living, pursuing the type of work you love, not your interests will be much more fulfilling.

While I loved technology and computers, some hobbies are better left to remain casual pastimes. Turning a hobby into work may cause you to hate the activity.

One more example

Probably my most favorite of hobbies is playing video games. I enjoy casual playing at my own pace and I rarely play competitively or online.

I find that this hobby does not translate well into a business or job. While I could develop video games, I would be spending my time developing graphics and tweaking physics engines. I couldn’t review video games as there is a huge supply of those wanting to do the same thing. Nor can I play competitively since I don’t enjoy it as much.

While I can try and succeed for any one of these things, the work associated with video games does not interest me very much. I am perfectly content with keeping this hobby casual. Thus, this is another case where money will NOT follow by pursuing what one loves.

Jobs and tasks take priority

Entrepreneurs need to ensure the roles we serve in a particular business is to our liking. Opening up a business involving lots of face to face sales will require you to be comfortable in taking on a “sales manager” type of role, at least in the beginning. If you are uncomfortable with this type of role, you need to pick a different type of business.

If you want to open up an online retail store, yet hate any kind of internet marketing, you probably should pursue a different kind of business model.

Once you are comfortable with a business model and role you will fill, you can feel free to choose the industry to enter. At least ensure that industry preference doesn’t weigh heavier in your decision than the role you want to serve.

If you pick an industry you love but a role you hate, you will probably do poorly. Picking an industry you hate but a role you absolutely love and will probably prove to bring you more success.

What is true about pursuing what you love

Pursuing a pastime you love for profit may mean you would be filling a niche demand, since your interests may be specific. You may be really good at what you do and your customers will appreciate your passion.

While you can accomplish this by pursuing an enjoyable hobby, you can fill a niche demand regardless of whether or not you are passionate about your industry. You can easily hire quality staff members who are better than you at producing something and your customers will still appreciate the great work all the same.

While you should pursue something that you enjoy doing, you should be smart about what your pursuits are. Pursuing a hobby may only lead to frustration and lack of love for your work. Pursuing tasks and roles that you enjoy, however will allow you to find your work more fulfilling.

. . .

These should weigh heavily into your decision making when deciding on ideas for a business to start. Coming up with business ideas are a big problem among many entrepreneur hopefuls. Stay tuned for the next post, which will aid those looking for business ideas for their first or future business ventures.

7 comments… add one
  • Usman Sheikh February 19, 2009, 11:10 am

    Hey Matt…great article. I really like the way you have articulated your thoughts using pertinent examples. I wrote a post a couple of days ago on the same topic. I reached the same conclusion that one needs to actually find the sweet spot between three circles.

    1. Doing what we love to do.
    2. Doing what we feel most comfortable in doing.
    3. Doing what we will get paid for.

    All three circles will intersect at a sweet spot which is where we should aim to be in our life.

    You can read the post in greater detail here. http://www.usmansheikh.com/inspiration/do-what-you-love

    Usman Sheikh

    • Matt Thomas February 25, 2009, 3:23 pm

      Usman, excellent point. There is somewhat of a balancing act that we need to perform when deciding on a business idea. Obviously, starting a business with enjoyable work AND in an area that interests you is preferrable to just starting a business that offers the right type of work.

      I like the demonstration you put together in your post. I’ll read through it again and comment shortly.

      Thanks for the comment!

  • Brian Linton February 19, 2009, 6:02 pm

    Matt, thanks for this great post. I think that you are right on about doing what you love does not always equal money – however, I do believe derivatives of doing what you love can equal money. I would say the key is finding something related to what you love, and you will probably love it.


    Brian Linton’s last blog post..Successful Entrepreneur Guide – The Importance of Taking Preorders

    • Matt Thomas February 20, 2009, 12:00 pm

      Thanks for the comment, Brian. There are indeed plenty of instances where doing what you love will bring you money and in most cases, it is even ideal to do it this way. However, “Do what you love and money will follow” is a bit of an absolute statement and I feel there are too many examples of situations where doing what you love WONT bring you money. Following the type of WORK you love will be much more effective in bringing you money with a rewarding experience.

      I think having a strong interest in what you do is important and pursuing what you love can certainly get you there, but pursuing the type of work that you love will do the same while also ensuring you are empowered. I suppose that doing what you love does often equal money because your favorite activities CAN often translate into rewarding work related tasks. You just need to proceed with caution and ensure that the role you would be filling by starting a business based on your interests is one that you would enjoy.

  • Teresia Doubrava December 22, 2009, 6:01 pm

    Thanks for posting this article. I’m decidedly frustrated with struggling to search out germane and intelligent commentary on this issue. Everybody nowadays goes to the very far extremes to either drive home their viewpoint that either: everyone else in the planet is wrong, or two that everyone but them does not really understand the situation. Many thanks for your concise, applicable insight.

  • Krystyna Casanas August 12, 2010, 9:44 pm

    liked this writing!

    • Matt Thomas August 14, 2010, 12:04 am

      Glad to hear it! What did you like most about it?

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