Do what you love, and the money will follow?

I encounter a lot of solopreneurs, individuals who wish to build a business doing what they love.  Consistently, there's a lack of understanding about how to grow a viable business, one that can financially support the business owner.

Here is a common idea:

"If I have a passion for something, then there must be enough other people who have the same passion, that I can build a business with this."

This is true... but building a business on passion alone?  It takes a lot longer than one might imagine... what I've seen out there is 3 - 10 years of consistent effort before you can live on an income based on a passion-led business.

(There's nothing wrong with this, as long as you don't need that income anytime soon.)

However, if you want to build a business that can support you sooner, such as within a few years, or even within 12 months, then you need to build a compassion-led (market-led) business.  

Let's delve into 2 sources of energy when we are building a business...
Passion Energy -- your own philosophies, ideas, hobbies, your own background, knowledge, your message, peak experiences you've had, teachers you've studied with, things you love doing, topics you enjoy talking about.  In short, your passions.  "Do what you love."

Compassion Energy -- actual other people's problems, challenges, issues, frustrations, habits, needs, yearnings, dreams.  In short, a business based on what other people want so much, that they would pay for it.  "Meet people where they're at."

When I say other people's problems, I mean not just what you believe philosophically -- that "the world needs this" or "people need that." -- such philosophizing would still be your own ideas and theories.

Compassion energy comes from real individuals you have talked with.  You know their names, you know enough about their unique life to really know the problems they are facing, that you could design (or re-design) your service to help them.

Think of a time when you saw someone suffering, and you felt motivated to help them ease their pain.  

Or think of a time when you got really excited about someone else's dream, and you felt energized to do whatever you could to help them reach their goals.

That's drawing from a compassionate source of energy.  You were motivated by what other, actual, real world people were needing and wanting.  

Always remember:

Money comes from other people, not from your own passions.  Your income is derived from other actual people's spending.

So when you build a business drawing primarily from compassion energy, you are able to get clients sooner.  Your marketing becomes clearer and a little easier -- because it's about giving people what they want.  Your business can then support you sooner.
Give them what they want until they want what you want to give them -- George Kao

​How to tap into the energy source of Compassion/Market...

Sometimes, entrepreneurs think: 

"If I become an expert in business, I'll have enough business..." 

Really, we should be becoming an expert in our ideal client.

Talk with individuals about what you're thinking of offering, and allow the conversation to help you understand them.  Here is a concise version of the niche interview --
  1. Find individuals who seem like your ideal clients.  
  2. Ask them about the problem you want to solve, or the dream you want to help people achieve -- not to try to sell them, but out of genuine curiosity about their thoughts/feelings about your area of expertise.  If they have no interest in the kind of problem/dream you help people with, they are not an ideal client.  Thank them for their thoughts, and move onto the next conversation.
  3. If they are actually interested, then get to know how that problem is really showing up in their life.  You may find that they express the problem differently than you do.  How they talk about the problem is going to be very helpful for your marketing.  Be observant.  Take notes if you can, or if they are willing, record the conversation.
  4. Did they, or are they, spending money to solve that problem / achieve that dream)?  If so, what kind of products/services/programs?
  5. Why did the other solutions not work as well?  This will help you shape your offerings to be a better fit for them.
  6. If they aren't spending money on this problem, what else might they spend money on that is remotely related?  
  7. Do they know someone else who has spent money in this area?  Might they be willing to introduce you, so you could learn more?

After talking to at least 10 people (ideal client types), start creating a service/product that solves the problem of the actual people you've talked with.  

Or: re-design your existing service/product according to what you've now learned.  

Now that you have designed your service/product to serve actual people's problems, go ahead and share it with them.  Once you've gotten several people excited, go ahead and deliver the service for them.  Ideally, these first people ("beta testers") would pay you.  But at this beginning stage, it is fine to get some clients purely for their feedback about your service, and hopefully, some testimonials.

The above actions will build you a more viable business than mere idealism or passion-led entrepreneurship.

By taking these actions, you will develop an empathy for the market, which helps you to create a compassion-led business.

You'll likely get business income sooner this way, than if you were led solely by your own ideas & passion.

Money is society's allocation of work that needs to be done.  People are spending money where they want the work to be done.  So notice where your ideal clients are spending the money, and design your services accordingly.

Again, if you don't need income soon, then you can develop your business mainly from your own passions, problems and ideas.  That can lead to income, but in the longer-term.

It is up to you.  Make a conscious choice about it.

Eventually you will find a sweet spot: the combination of the two.  Passion + compassion creates an authentic business.  It is being able to do what you love, and talk about it in a way that others understand and would love to buy.  However, it usually starts with either passion (a long road to financial viability) or compassion (abandoning your ego, in order to listen to the market.)

​You can flavor​ your market-led work with your passion.

Even if you must make income now, and are "forced" to create a compassion-led business, you can still bring elements of your Passion in order to flavor & season your paid work, to make it more meaningful, unique, enjoyable.


Even as I coach people on business/marketing, I enjoy talking & writing about spirituality and personal growth.  

Even though my clients won't pay me to talk about those personal topics, they do enjoy it when I bring in spiritual ideas.  It makes me a 
unique business coach in their mind, and heart.

Still, they are paying me for the business expertise... not for my philosophizing :)  
I share my opinions & values to make my work more meaningful for me... and more interesting & unique for them.

So if your passion isn't paying the bills yet, make it a hobby for now.

Make your paid (compassion) work more interesting by bringing aspects of your hobby (passion) to it, like how I bring spirituality into business coaching.

​It takes creativity to do this... but then again, any worthwhile effort does!

How will this blog post affect your business going forward?  Feel free to let me know.