The Passion vs Profit discussion is as old as business itself.

Does this sound like the exact opposite of what the motivational speaker told you about achieving success in life and in business?

Or it sounds really opposite to what you read from your business/motivational books?

“Do what you love, the money will follow” is a common saying that has led many entrepreneurs into the trap of building failure upon failure while they think they are building businesses.

See, dear entrepreneur, everything about running a business is changing so fast these days than you can cope (especially if you are new in the game).

The dynamics of entrepreneurship are changing in such a way that old theories are not working any longer and if you are adamant by going against the trend, it will swallow you and you will go broke – that’s even if you are not broke already.

I learnt this hard fact in online FOREX trading. The easiest money you can make in FOREX is when riding along with a strong trend (either bullish or bearish, it does not matter). 


While you are riding the trend while it lasts and cashing out, some are trying hard to trade against it thinking they could be smart enough to probably catch up early on a reversal or the beginning of a new trend and thereby get burnt financially.

In fact, nothing humbles more than losing in a live trade in FOREX.

Let me use the above narration to explain to you how you have been mistakenly taught to build a business around what you love ONLY as the yardstick for success.

The motivators usually go on to say – you are passionate about that thing if you love doing it to the extent that even if you don’t get paid, you wont stop, you wont get tired and blablablabla.

Hahahahaha, in this part of the world? I am sorry for you.

This is exactly where the challenge lies.

While there is nothing wrong in building a business around your passion – in fact, I also have a training module titled ‘Passion 2 Profit’ that I teach when I need to – problem starts when you put the cart before the horse thinking your passion alone will be enough to sustain you during the tough times. 

When the real tough times come in business (and they do come often), your passion alone won’t be enough to sustain you.

So, building a venture around it, just because you enjoy doing it alone in this part of the world, requires a second thought.

Let me simplify my points further.

If you are an entrepreneur in another clime where there is a solid support system (especially financial support) to keep you going while building a business around your passion (even when it is not profitable yet), then you are fine.

You will also agree with me that most of the speakers and authors that teach you to build a business around what you are passionate about only are foreigners. The system that operates where they are is different from what we have here. They write and speak based on what they know or have experienced which is different from your own reality here.

So, if it will take you 5 years to start making money from your passion over there, you are still good to go because there is a good support system to keep you in the game financially that long and even more while your passion alone is sustaining you.

On the other hand, think of yourself as a young Nigerian entrepreneur trying to build a business around your passion and it will take same 5 years for you to start cashing out.

Do you think there is a system to support you for 5 years? No, not available for now!

This is exactly why we have a lot of struggling entrepreneurs here. Statistics have it that over 90% of SMEs collapse in their first 3 years of establishment – are you still looking for the reason for their failure?

Here is a simple truth you need to know –  at every point in time, there is always an economic trend which makes very glaring what is selling and what is not.

Problem starts if your passion is not selling as at the time you are ready to push.

Simply put, you will be building a business against the economic trend and the result is FAILURE in capital letter. I know this because it has happened to me and many people I know before I started giving myself brain.

Today, everyone is making money online with mini importation, e-commerce, affiliate marketing, social media marketing and so on. 

That is the current trend and it will continue like that until their is another disruption to change the direction and focus. 

So, instead of reinventing the wheel in the name of passion, why not embrace one of selling businesses first, learn the rope, gather resources and then start pursuing your passion!

You see, a lot of young people with fantastic ideas they are passionate about try and try to make them work but eventually fail.

They, at times, go back to read their books and listen to motivational audio speeches that confirm that they are doing the right thing. Meanwhile, in the real economic sense of their local environment where they operate, they are fetching water inside a perforated basket.

I know some people will be saying or asking – is entrepreneurship all about profit or money? Well, I will like to tell you that if the entity you run does not churn out profit, it is not a business. May be a charity organisation.

You can’t even call it a social enterprise because social enterprises are making profits now – though, they are not founded for the main purpose of making profit but they make profit (at least enough to make their venture sustainable) because they fulfil the natural criteria of profit making.

We will discuss this some other time.

Anik Singal

You can as well watch Anik Singal’s TED Talk at TEDx UBIWiltz on this very issue here for more understanding . 

The Way Out

If you find yourself in the category of entrepreneurs struggling against the trend by forcefully trying to build a business around your passion and you have been finding it difficult, it may mean that you are forgetting who you are and where you are.

Subjecting Your Passion to the Profit Test

If you are a Nigerian building a business in Nigeria,  you need to sujbect your passion to the profit test to make sure you are not just wasting your time.

There are questions you need to ask yourself while thinking of building a business around your passion which are;

  • What exactly am I passionate about?
  • What value(s) does my passion offer?
  • Will anyone be willing to pay money in exchange for the value now?
  • Who and where are those people?
  • How will I reach out to them?
  • How much will they be willing to pay?
  • How will I receive the money from them?
  • How long will it take me to breakeven?
  • Can I really get rich doing this?
  • Do I have the full expertise to run this on my own or do I need the help/expertise of anyone else?

These, and some more, are the basic questions you need to answer before embarking on that journey. 

If building a business around your passion can not provide positive answers to all the questions above and the other important ones, then I am pleading that you suspend it now.

No matter how happy the passion makes you feel, if you go ahead, you are likely going to be frustrated and quit eventually.

You can help us by not adding yourself to the negative statistics of failed entrepreneurs in Nigeria and Africa in general.

I am not discouraging you, I am only telling you the truth.

Meanwhile, it will be funny and at the same time annoying to you to see other people building businesses successfully around same passion you have and they are profitable and you will be like – how come? LOL…you want to know how? I will tell you.

The reason is simple; success in business is easy with experience and when the right foundation has been laid by you.

80% of people you see today succeeding with building a business around what they love are those who have built other business(es) successfully before.

They have mastered the art and science of entrepreneurship and now can play their game on any pitch. You guys refer to them as having a hand of gold. You do say that everything they touch turns to gold.

This reminds of some posts of Akin Alabi (the Founder of Nairabet) on Instagram I saw sometimes ago…see them for yourself below;


So, here is the way out – while considering starting a business around your passion, do consider the current economic trend around same as per value/money exchange.

Unless you have something to cushion the effect of the losses that will come at the early stage, do not start the business if the figures are not good enough. 

What you should do is this instead – while your passion may not be economically fit enough to be launched now or you do not have the capacity to launch and succeed with it now, there will be another ‘thing’ that is selling and profitable which is sure for you.

Even if you are not passionate about it and as long as it is legal, that  is what you should go for.

It will be like riding on an established trend in FOREX trading – everyone caught on the trend will make money, it does not matter whether it’s your first day trading or you are a pro.

One thing that comes with success or being profitable in a business is confidence and the lessons you learn along.

They work together to help you play your game better when next you play.

Once you do this and you have gathered enough experience, confidence and resources, then let’s talk about you building a business around your passion.

Your chances of succeeding now is higher and you already know why it is so.

In conclusion, doing what it takes to succeed and the money will follow is the reality as against doing what you love and the money will follow.

Once money starts rolling on, then you will transform into loving what you do and people will help you talk about it as doing what you love. The story will be sweet to tell by then. 

There are things I do within my businesses that I just need to in order to succeed. It is not as if I love them but I don’t have a choice.

Before you get to the point where you do what you love and the money will roll in, there are lots of foundations you would have laid which comprise of numerous activities that you do not love but they have to be done. It is that tricky!

For example, I love to train, educate and empower people with my knowledge like I am doing right now with this site.

Every like, share, comment, question and feedback I get here makes me feel fulfilled.

However, I do not like to type. I do not like to edit. I do not like to sit for hours writing an article. I do not enjoy scouting the internet for the best image for my work.

It is intellectually tasking to think and put the ideas together in a single post. However, all these have to happen before an article can be posted – before I can have the result I want. 

So, if I do not do those things I don’t enjoy doing first, the result of having to do and enjoy what I love doing wont come.

Hope you get the idea now.

This exactly how it is everywhere. Don’t get confused by the motivators who don’t do business themselves.

Saying do what you love and the money will follow is like saying eat whatever you want and you will lose weight.

I hope this has enlightened you a bit about building a business around your passion. Do not hesitate to share it with others that may benefit from it too.

Also, I will like to hear from you – what’s your own thought about this topic? Put it in the comment box below and let’s discuss. 

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Ibraheem Tiamiyu (Plan B) is a parallel entrepreneur, the founder of Plan B Group, a YALI (Young African Leaders Initiative) Fellow and a highly sought-after speaker and trainer on business, investment, leadership, youth and organisational development.

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