Using your heart as a compass is a great piece of advice to follow in business and life itself. Relying on it as your sole piece of navigational equipment is quite another all together, especially when you’re building a solo business.

There’s so much well-intentioned material out there about following your passions that it’s easy to get swept away in the rip tide of the lighter side of self-actualization. At the heart of the problem is overlooking the difference between passion and purpose.

As business coach Tom Wolf succinctly puts it in this short YouTube video, passions serve a similar purpose as indicator lights on the dashboard of a car. They tell you there’s something important going on under the hood but not exactly what that might be.

For example, you might be passionate about baking cakes or seeking outdoor adventure. Both are fascinating topics that you can pursue for a lifetime, but there are any number of reasons that might be fueling your passions.

Those reasons may or may not have the staying power to keep you focused and motivated enough to build a business around them. We’ve all known people that tried to turn their passions into careers only to find themselves adrift once those passions fizzled out once they were doing it for a living every day.

A purpose is something much more specific than a blinking light on the dashboard. Your purpose address the underlying needs that fire your passions, and, unlike your passions, your most basic personal needs are there to stay once you’ve become a mature adult.

Whether it’s the sense of purpose that parents find in raising a child or Steve Martin’s purpose in The Jerk, your primary purposes aren’t going anywhere whether you know what they are or not. Discovering a purpose in business that addresses your fundamental needs is the key to fueling a solo business with the staying power to succeed.
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