Becoming a student entrepreneur – should you really follow your passion?

Becoming a student entrepreneur – should you really follow your passion?

Travelling, cooking, teaching, scuba diving or dancing. All of us have something that makes us ‘feel alive’– a passionate pursuit that adds that tinge of extra meaning to life itself or an activity that gives us a sense of accomplishment. If you do not know what that might be (yet), pick up hobbies or pastimes that might excite you. Why? Because they’re the things worth chasing after.

“If you feel like there’s something out there that you’re supposed to be doing, if you have a passion for it, then stop wishing and just do it.” —Wanda Sykes

The phrase ‘follow your passion’ is a trending hashtag on Instagram and there are multiple articles explaining how following your passion is bound to bring you success. Needless to say, the terms ‘passion’ and ‘entrepreneurship’ go hand-in-hand.

Apple is one of the most successful companies in today’s world. In an article featured by Forbes, the author mentions about how Steve Jobs, an exceptional entrepreneur, had 7 key success principles. The article is based on several interviews with Apple employees and Steve Jobs himself, where the first principle enlisted is, “Do what you love.” Being one of the successful icons of our time, late Steve Jobs, believed in the power of passion, and once said, “People with passion can change the world for the better.” He had also claimed that the passion he had for his work made all the difference.

Although Jobs speaks of passion, it stands clear that his passion wasn’t computers per se, any more than it was Japanese gardening and calligraphy—it was simplicity. He made it his art and obsession and introduced it to the Apple industry in the form of strategy, marketing, branding, and products.

Mark Cuban, the owner of Dallas Mavericks and a star on ABC’s hit reality television show, Shark Tank is worth more than $3 billion today. On his way up to the top, he chased numerous random side-hustles including selling baseball cards, coins, and stamps. One thing Mark did not do, is following his passion. As apart of the Amazon Insights for Entrepreneurs series, Cuban says, “One of the great lies of life is ‘follow your passions.’ Furthermore, he says that’s a bad advice as you may not always excel at what you are passionate about.

I used to be passionate about being a basketball player. Then I realized I had a 7-inch vertical”, says Cuban. Top contenders for NBA Draft Combine in 2018 each had a max vertical leap of 40.5 inches.

“There are a lot of things I am passionate about. A lot. The things I ended up being really good at were the things I found myself putting effort into. A lot of people talk about passion, but that’s really not what you need to focus on. You really need to evaluate and say, ‘Okay, where am I putting in my time?’ Because when you look at where you put in your time, where you put in your effort, that tends to be the things that you are good at. And if you put in enough time, you tend to get really good at it,” explains Cuban.

While these two self-made entrepreneurs have diverse thoughts about “following one’s passion”, it is safe to say that, to become an entrepreneur you don’t (always) have to follow your passion.

However, a passion-driven idea can always be nurtured into a million-dollar business; especially when students are fostered to look at the world with an entrepreneurial eye. To learn more, read about Columbia Business School’s Global Entrepreneurship and Innovation Program, where students are turned into entrepreneurs.

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