Do What You Hate and the Money Will Follow

Doesn’t everybody wish they could wake up on Monday morning before the alarm goes off and, with the giddy anticipation of a joyous and productive day, dash off to their office or studio (or the beach) to make another day’s handsome living doing what they love?


There are conflicting opinions about the wisdom and practicality of doing what you love for a living. However, finding something you hate could potentially net you a goldmine.


What’s Love Got to Do with It?


A recent national survey reveals that more than 50% of all U.S. workers are dissatisfied with their jobs. Worse, it’s the eighth straight year that The Conference Board has found this to be the case while conducting their Job Satisfaction survey.


You probably know the feeling—the dread and emptiness that creeps up slowly on you Sunday mid-afternoon. By Monday morning, it’s a full-blown feeling of dullness, like sucking the vibrant color out of a rainbow. Time to go back to your no-longer-interesting (or maybe never-was-interesting) job.


Does a person become dissatisfied with their job because (a) the job actually is a bad fit for them and devoid of challenge, or (b) because they believe they could “do what they love and the money will follow?” There aren’t any statistics that answer this question, but it’s likely a bit of both.


The idea seems to originate with Marsha Sinetar’s 1989 book, Do What You Love, The Money Will Follow. Criticism of the book cites an absence of solid instruction on how to do it, while leaning instead toward the idea that lack of self-esteem is what keeps people in unsatisfying jobs.


Sinetar’s idea implies that you should somehow be able to make money doing what you love. The fact is, people may love a lot of things—activities they’ve chosen to do because they love them. These activities don’t always translate into money though.


Wisconsin-based author Penelope Trunk, who has founded four startups, sees absurdity in the idea of focusing one’s work life on what you love. In her blog, she writes:


“So it’s preposterous that we need to get paid to do what we love because we do that stuff anyway. I am a writer, but I love sex more than I love writing. But I don’t sit up at night thinking, should I do writing or sex? Because career decisions are not decisions about ‘what do I love most?’ Career decisions are about what kind of life do I want to set up for myself?”


For entrepreneurs seeking to create a satisfying career and income, approaching it on the basis of what you love may not be the way to go.


Entrepreneurship, Ability, and the Value of Hate


Rather than trying to figure out your passion—the thing you love—and attempting to become successful and wealthy from it, you may want to consider approaching it from the opposite direction.


New York Times bestselling author, speaker, and entrepreneur Grant Cardone suggests that if you want to start a successful business, focus on your talents and abilities: “Everyone has some special thing,” he wrote in his book, How to Make Millions in Business. “If you don’t, find something you hate and get special at it.”


“Something you hate” is another way of saying “a problem; something that bothers you or someone else.”

The essence of entrepreneurism is solving people’s problems … for a fee. An entrepreneur sees a need and fills it; they identify a demand in a market and provide the product or service to it.


Gardening, cleaning, and painting businesses, promoted properly, can often thrive because most people don’t want to do those jobs themselves. It’s a problem that people are willing to pay someone else to handle. Web developers, SEO experts, and related internet professions have done very well in the past 20 years or so because, for the average prospect, these technical subjects are daunting—they are more than willing to pay the expert to handle it.


So, if a person can identify problems—a need, want or set of less-than-optimum circumstances—and has the willingness and skill to address those problems, they can be on their way to profitable entrepreneurism.


Not everyone has “some special thing.” In that case, look around. Is there a problem or need in your life or the world around you? Perhaps something that annoys you that you wish you could change? Chances are, it annoys other people too … and they would pay to have it fixed.


For instance, a parent became aware of low and declining literacy scores in the schools in her state. She knew that semi-literacy and illiteracy could limit what a person could accomplish in life. But, more personally, she dreaded having to deal with illiterate people. So, she attacked illiteracy by starting a tutoring business in her area. She found that other parents were at their wit’s end with the school’s failure and were willing to pay someone for results.


The more people you can solve a problem for, the more money you’ll make. Two modern examples of this are Uber and Airbnb—global companies which solve the problems of the high costs of taxi service and travel accommodations, respectively. Uber, founded in 2009, had revenue of $1.5 billion in 2015; Airbnb, founded in 2008, had 2015 revenues of $900 million.


The Take-Away

Entrepreneurship isn’t really about what you love, unless what you love can solve a problem for people … and the more of them, the better.


While “hate” may be a strong word, look around your city, country, or the world and identify situations that bother or frustrate you or others. When you begin to look at the world in terms of problems and solutions, you will begin to see opportunities.


If you start a business, you’re going to exert time, effort, and money. You can leverage those resources by basing your business on the solution to a problem that affects a larger number of people rather than just a few, thus giving you a potentially larger customer base and revenue.


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