Why Living Your Dreams Is Killing Your Business

You’ve probably heard the philosophy that if only you would just pursue your passions and live your dreams, then your business would fall into place and making money would finally and easily, start to happen.

Do what you love, right? Maybe this is Oprah’s fault – but I’m pushing back on this one.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s great to suggest that your best work will come out of what interests you, but I think it is a mistake to believe that following your passion and chasing your dreams is the right way to build a business. Let me tell you why – because a business takes work. A lot of work. And learning. Constant learning. And building. And striving. And risk. And uncertainty. And just about a hundred other things that probably don’t sound too dreamy.

I think the real secret lies in getting in there and getting your hands dirty and trying things. All kinds of things. And the more things you try, the more you discover. And the more you discover, the more you learn. And the more you learn the more you can begin to make knowledgeable choices. And those choices can begin to inform your dreams. Sort of building your dreams backwards, if you will.

See, it really is okay to not know what you will do and it’s okay to not know how you will do it. It’s okay to just get started and as you discover who you really are and what you’re really capable of – your dreams can begin to take shape. And then those dreams are not something you breathlessly chase, but something you are creating and then bringing to life as you gain knowledge and skills.

I have had many start-up clients come to me and tell me of their dreams. I understand the nature of dreams. Dreams are special and magical and not real. If our business idea comes from this place, from our dreams, then we get too attached to the ethereal quality and the unadulterated perfection of our dream like vision. Everything in our dream is perfect – and we like it that way.  But dreams prevent us from taking honest criticism and allowing others to provide some outside perspective. Because dreams are too precious. Same with love and with passion – it’s just not real. Love and passion are feelings – not business models.

So, what am I getting at here? Am I suggesting that you can’t do what you love and live your dreams by running a business you are passionate about? Certainly not. But, what I am suggesting is that, rather than write down a list of your dreams, passions and loves – why not just get to work. Learn, discover, try and fail. Repeat. As you do so, the right path will begin to surface. You will discover what it is you are good at and you will become passionate about your work as you build your dream.

Don’t feel that if it is tough today, then it must not be your passion. Don’t think if it is uncertain today then it cannot be what you love. Know that dreams take time and that part of what makes dreams so magical is the very fact that they often don’t make much sense when you try to recall them – dreams are best understood by simply letting them unfold all on their own.

Leah Goold-Haws is the Creative Director/Marketing Strategist for LGH Marketing/Strategy. Leah’s experience has included campaign development and strategy implementation for multi-agency collaboratives, corporations and non-profits as well as entrepreneurs and small business clients. You can now meet with Leah at the Small Business Development Center. The SBDC provides low or no cost business assistance. Schedule an appointment today by calling 242-7630.

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is the Creative Director/Marketing Strategist for LGH Marketing/Strategy. Leah’s experience includes work at advertising firms, freelance design and marketing strategy along with international work in TV & radio. Leah worked as Creative Director of a marketing and advertising firm in Northern California before opening LGH Marketing/Strategy in January of 2011. She currently owns two successful businesses and is expanding into the global marketplace.
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3 Responses

  1. Avatar `AJacoby says:

    Hear, hear!!!!

    For 27 years I was a school music teacher and, according to various benchmarks (opinions of students, parents, administration, other teachers, etc.), a pretty good one. But teaching school was never my dream. I kinda backed into it by default. HOWEVER, the last year I taught I remember saying to a fellow teacher, as we watched one of my groups perform., "How many artists do you know who can dream up a stage show in September and see it come to life in June?" It was then I realized that my work had become my dream. And trust me, it was HARD work. But looking back on my life, I can't IMAGINE doing anything else!!

  2. Leah, this is a great tough-love business column, and your timing is perfect. Thank you.

  3. Avatar James Santos says:

    Great article Leah, I understand and think a general idea is best! I have made my dreams become a reality numerous times but each time took a lot of work and sometimes turned out a bit different. The next part is that you never really reach the end, right? I mean, you should enjoy the moments and boy have I, but it always seems like it is time to think of what is the next step.

    Thank you for the article.