Romantic lies about passion and entrepreneurship

There is a romanticized notion that if you pursue a passion, work becomes smooth sailing–work is only “hard” if you hate what you do, and if you pursue a passion, you’re only doing what you love, and therefore relish every skip of your beating heart.

This also leads many to believe that if you’re passionate about something, you don’t have to put in much effort to succeed at it. The success comes as naturally as breathing. It would be absurd to “breathe harder"–you simply keep breathing. The success will follow naturally.

This is a seductive notion, particularly to aspiring entrepreneurs. But it’s a lie. And it’s dangerously misleading.

Let me tell you about my passion. I am an obsessive, greedy reader. Every time I read something that inspires or provokes me, I get this strange, hoarding impulse to jot it down in a notebook. This reached an apex in college, when I went through an angsty existential crisis and used literature to overcome it. I ended up with notebooks flooded with handwritten quotes by Camus, Nietzsche, Dostoevsky, and Sartre. I was proud of my collection, but it was inefficient. I tried to find an online alternative, but the existing quotation sites made my eyes puke. That was when the idea for Quotesome was born.

I was so passionate about the idea of Quotesome–so passionate that I rescinded my formal education–what everyone told me was the only certain path to a stable future–to make the idea a reality.

—And when you read all these stories about entrepreneurship, they make it seem so thrilling and romantic. Entrepreneurship is that alluring fairytale where you struggle a tad but then prince charming comes along and then the confetti begins to fall and the curtain draws. The successful entrepreneurs are relished and celebrated. When you read about them on the news all their success is attributed to "passion"—

So I thought: fuck the system. I’m passionate about Quotesome. I’m going to do this.

Nobody tells you that entrepreneurship is not romantic, fun, or cool. Nobody tells you that:

So why on earth do we do this? Are entrepreneurs masochists?

We persevere through this bullshit because we never lose sight of why we’re in this in the first place: the passion. There are times when all the anxiety is suspended, when you sit with your cofounder looking at the product you built together with an overwhelming mixture of dissatisfaction and love. We persevere for the glorious moment when you realize that you transformed an idea you were so passionate about into a reality.

To all young and aspiring entrepreneurs–abandon any romanticized, "linear” vision you have of entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurship isn’t easy, cool, or fun. It’s not “do what you love and the rest will come naturally.” Be ready for a lot of hard work, pain, and irrational levels of perseverance. You may be passionate, but your passion will not make entrepreneurship any easier for you. Your passion simply gives you a reason to persevere through the pain.

This is a post written for Startup Edition’s topic: Advice for Young Entrepreneurs.


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