310: What if my passion doesn’t pay the bills?

I don’t often steer people away from entrepreneurship, but this was an interesting conversation I had with a listener about how to turn a passion into a business. The listener was Evan, who expressed interest in radio and podcasting and wanted to figure out how to build a business around it. He had just graduated from IUPUI in Indianapolis and was job hunting and asked what type of job he should look for that overlaps with his passions.

These conversations are always difficult for me because things like radio and podcasting are on my list of Businesses I Hate. These businesses tend to be really tough to make money at because it can be so difficult to carve out your piece of the pie, and even working at an established name tends to be low-paying.

Evan’s goal was to make $60K a year, enough to get by but not live a lavish lifestyle. He finds it easier to be motivated to do something he loves and talk to interesting people than working in sales, which he found unfulfilling. My advice to him was twofold: start a podcast or blog now and narrow it down based on his interests. It takes a long time and a ton of work to get off the ground with that type of project, so it’s best to start now.

While he starts the business, the hard advice I gave him was to do the thing he doesn’t want to do and find a sales job. If he works his butt off for five years he can have the passive income he needs to support his passions without the financial pressure, he’ll be able to spend time on radio and podcasting without needing it to bring in a full salary. Being good at sales and being an extrovert is the ultimate skill if you can get in with the right people and sell the right thing. On the side, he can start his podcast and build his brand, but that takes years to go anywhere. 

To do what you love in five years, you need to go out and make money today. And even your passion becomes work after a while. It will be fun for two months, but then you realize that it’s still long and difficult work. You experience the dip and will lack the motivation that seemed so clear at the start.

Try to separate your passion from your career. Find something that delivers value and makes you money so you can work on your passions on the side without having to stress about financial constraints.

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I started the Sweaty Startup in December of 2018 because I believe the Shark Tank and Tech Crunch culture is ruining the real spirit of low-risk entrepreneurship.