The big entrepreneurial dilemma: Passion Vs. Practical


Okay, so you’ve hit upon a great business idea. You just know it is a killer, more so because you are mixing business with pleasure. Hitting the entrepreneurial road via the most scenic route, by doing something you love. This is a dream job – a joint venture of the head and the heart. Like a book lover owning a bookshop, an alcoholic opening a bar, a fashionista planning a boutique. The buzz this gives you has you almost airborne.

You look forward to hours and hours of happiness, an eternity of ecstasy, as you turn your indulgence into a commercially sound idea. After all, you have always wanted to do this. More so in the case of second careers. This time round you want to do the smart thing, not get stuck with your dad’s dream job or a dull position in your uncle’s company. You want to do your own thing. Start something of your own. Pay attention to your passion.

So far, so good. After that first cry of general joy you strive for coherence as you put it all together; the base, the facts, the current scenario, the financial viability of it all. In the first flush of love you overlook the mundane aspects – the staff that has to be hired, the salaries that have to be paid, the taxes, the bills, the piling up of invoices right into the horizon. You are chirpy, ready for commitment. Come on, you dare the world, take me on. Work from now was going to be one long weekend.

On the first anniversary of this chest-thumping, fist-pumping, adrenaline-surging cry you are somewhat subdued. Weekends are all about work. Because – as you explain yet again to your near and dear ones who are sulking and rolling their eyes at a busy-busy you – this is your own company. You cannot apply for leave to yourself. Playing hooky is not the same. Excuses to former bosses were a work of art but your own absent employees are a pain in the ass.

It is an effort to look people in the eye and murmur about breaking even. You are in the red when you should be in the black. The distance between you and the object of your affection is growing by the minute. Yes, you are working with what you love – plants, enameled jewelry or educating little kids – but the nitty-gritty of the myriad complications that constitute the infrastructure of this dream venture takes up all your waking hours.Reality is slowly switching off the stars in your eyes. Sometimes you wish you were back in your old job, where somebody else worried about when to pay you and how much. When it comes to work, you realize, arranged marriages are perhaps better than a love match. The former involves a steely will and grit with built-in mechanisms to go on while the latter is combustible idealism.

No one wants to throw in the towel and allow a host of unkindly people to break into their ‘I-told-you-so’ song. So you trudge on with a sheepish smile, no longer on a high but refusing to look low. But it is with some difficulty that you refrain from chucking a heavy object at anyone who says: ‘You are so lucky to be working at what you love.’

Because for the life of you, you cannot recall what it is that you loved about this so-called great love of yours. It is now a chore like any other chore. You go to work like anyone else, to a job like anyone else’s. Business, at the end of the day, is business. Grand passion for own product is optional.


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