Starting a business based on your passion can be far more rewarding than being employed, as you’re free to chart your course based on doing something that you love. Learn how to discover your passion and purpose for launching your venture and make the most from starting your own business.
Starting a business isn’t easy. You may have to work long hours, and you may not make much money in the early days. That can be tough on your mental health, which is why basing your business on a passion can be a real advantage.
Having a sense of purpose and building a company around something that you love can help make any necessary sacrifices more bearable. It may help keep you motivated when times are tough and make your victories even sweeter because you’ll be taking steps to feed your passion and fulfil your mission.
Learn how to think creatively and define your brand with our free Marketing in the 21st Century course. As part of our Learn with Start Up Loans partnership with The Open University, our online course is free to join, delivered by experts and includes a free statement of participation on completion.
What is entrepreneurial passion and purpose?
Entrepreneurial passion is the emotion that you feel for what you love to do as an entrepreneur. A study published in the Academy of Management Review in 2009 defined it as “consciously accessible intense positive feelings experienced by engagement in entrepreneurial activities associated with roles that are meaningful and salient to the self-identity of the entrepreneur”.
Entrepreneurial purpose, on the other hand, is the reason why you’re running your business. It’s the mission you set out to help the people you want to serve and the impact you want to achieve.
Put simply, passion is what shapes your initial idea, and purpose provides the motivation to keep going.
Launching a business based on your passion
How you define your passion and purpose is completely up to you. For example, you might want to start a creative writing service to tap into your drive as a wordsmith or launch a social enterprise to support a social, environmental or local community cause.
Starting a business can often be driven by a need to make money, but for many entrepreneurs, passion and purpose are why they launch their venture. A 2019 survey by Start Up Loans found that three in five people who applied for a Start Up Loan said one reason they did so was to follow their passion.
Among them is Michaela Alexander, founder of the educational children’s books company Miles & Mia. Her purpose for starting the business was because she disliked the lack of diversity in books for young people. “I felt that it was really important that all children can see positive representation in books and the media,” she said.
Another entrepreneur who accessed a Start Up Loan is Joe Munns, founder of baking kit brand Bakedin. He said: “I wanted to do something that I was passionate about, and for me, it was food. When you have your own business, you think about the business all the time, but if you do something you love, then it doesn’t feel like work.”
Finding your entrepreneurial passion and purpose
There are various techniques you can use to find the passion and purpose to start your own business. Here are some of them:
What you love to do
Doing something that you enjoy is vital when running your own business. If you don’t, it will be a hard slog.
Make a list of things you love to do. It could be the food you love to cook, a hobby you enjoy, people you like working with, television shows you like to watch or clubs and organisations that you’re a member of. Think about why you enjoy those activities.
Reflect on your childhood and the experiences you enjoyed. Try and remember why those activities made you feel happy, such as the location or the people involved.
Another driver of a passion could be a negative or challenging experience in your past that you overcame and a desire to help other people going through the same situation.
Once you’ve got a list of passions, think about how you could translate them into a business. If you love making bread, could you start your own bakery? If you enjoy history, could you run a walking tour company?
What you’re good at
Another way to find your passion is to think about your skills.
Look back at your career and your previous employment. Were there any specific tasks that you excelled in that you could turn into a business? For example, perhaps you loved designing presentation slides. You could set up a business helping other entrepreneurs do that for investor pitches. Or perhaps you were an amazing organiser who was always called upon to arrange company trips. You could set up a virtual personal assistant service.
You should also consider to what extent you have good skills in the areas you’ve identified and what more you’d need to learn before turning your expertise into a business.
When basing a business on your skills, bear in mind that just because you’re good at something, it doesn’t necessarily mean you enjoy doing it.
Who you admire
People you admire can be the catalyst to discovering your entrepreneurial passions. Think about successful entrepreneurs who inspire you and why you look up to them. Do they support a cause that you feel passionate about?
There may be famous individuals in other fields of work that you admire too, or perhaps there’s a friend or family member you’re inspired by.
While you shouldn’t be focused on directly copying other people’s successes, how they’ve accomplished their achievements and the mission they followed can help you mould your passions and purpose.
Solve a problem
Some of the best business ideas solve a problem. If your product or service can fulfil a need that many people have, you’re on to a winner.
Think about a problem or need in your own life and whether you can create a product or service that solves it. If you have a problem, the chances are other people have it too.
Don’t worry if a solution already exists – look to see if it’s doing the job well enough. You may be able to do it better.
If your business starts with the purpose of fixing something for yourself, it can act as a strong motivator for helping other people.
Research your ideas
So now you’ve settled on your passions and purpose, you need to know that it’s going to work as a business, and that there’s a market for what you want to create. For that, research is key.
Shortlist your favourite ideas and examine the market opportunity. Check if there are already businesses doing something similar and whether there is a demand for your idea.
The British Library’s Business & IP Centres network provides free access to detailed sector research reports that you usually have to pay for. You can also carry out your market research by asking people what they think about your ideas and whether they fulfil a personal need or desire.
Read our guide to market research to help you get started.
Check out our free online courses in partnership with the Open University on effective marketing techniques. Our free Learn with Start Up Loans courses include:
Plus free courses on finance and accounting, entrepreneurship, project management, management and leadership.
Disclaimer: While we make reasonable efforts to keep the information on this page up to date, we do not guarantee or warrant (implied or otherwise) that it is current, accurate or complete. The information is intended for general information purposes only and does not take into account your personal situation, nor does it constitute legal, financial, tax or other professional advice. You should always consider whether the information is applicable to your particular circumstances and, where appropriate, seek professional or specialist advice or support.