10 Tough Love Tips for Turning Your Passion into a Successful Business

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One founder explains how to transform your passion into your livelihood. By Sarah Adler (Founder, Simply Real Health)

As I write this, it’s approximately 8:00 p.m. on a Wednesday night. Exactly one week before my passion project, one year in the making, my first hardcover cookbook officially arrives!

And right now, I just had this moment I have to tell you about. Here I was, about to power through yet another task list under the soft glow of my computer screen, and I got this funny little feeling. It stopped me, mid check mark.

“Yo, you. Put the pen down. SLOW DOWN lady. Stop, for a second. Do you know you just wrote a book? A BOOK...

...You’re not even 30 years old yet! Three years ago, you were sitting behind a desk and following someone else’s dream and now, here you are. With a big bad beautiful book, that’s about to change how people live and eat and cook. Holy SCHNIKES.”

I smiled. She’s wise, sometimes, that little voice in my head. I put down my list.

Put the List Down and Reflect

The rush of gratefulness swooped in, as it always does in these brief quiet moments. About the amazingness of living a life, doing what I love. That I get to literally change people’s lives every single day. As my day job.

And yes, it’s hard. It’s not glamorous most days. But mostly, I’m reminded how insanely thankful, joyful and free I feel — and get to feel, daily. It’s a feeling of intense gratitude, but more often dominated by that “thank God!” feeling. You know what I mean. When you suddenly realize what your life would have looked like if you hadn’t have made that call or decision years prior.

Thank God that, instead of going down the safe path of least resistance in my life, I woke up and finally realized I wanted more. That if I didn’t actively do something about it, fear and doubt would take over my life and rule my every move. It was the best decision I have ever made.

Taking the Risk

But I’ll tell you the truth... it was not a realization that came easily to me. I was one of those play-it-safe kind of people, always thinking things through and never wanting to take the risky option.

Growing up, I can remember it clearly. My dad always saying to me, “Do what you love, and the money will come” or “do what you love, and you will never work a day in your life.”

Sweet words, really. Smart ones, now that I look back at it. But my realist brain couldn’t help but think, “Yeah, easy for him to say.” He happens to love law. And, after a quick summer stint working in the filing room, I was able to quickly confirm that I didn’t.

It took me years sitting behind a desk, praying and waiting for the clock to show 5:30pm, for me to start understanding what my dad had been trying to tell me. I knew I wanted to love what I do. But how did I do that AND make a living for myself? It was only later that it started to make sense to me:

When you do what you love, you end up wanting to do it a lot more often. You get so good at it, that you become this sort of expert, in whatever field or hobby or interest you have.

And then you want to share and help everyone else around you. You want to tell them what you know and share your gift. And because you love it, ooze it, believe it, live it, they do too. And then they want to pay you, because they trust you. And that’s where it all starts.

Do What You Love

You spend time and effort with the things you love. The things that make your heart light up, fill you to the brim with that easy satisfied and content feeling, and make the time pass so quickly... those are the things to hang on to in life. Those are your gifts. And the reason that you were put here on this earth, so don’t ignore them. That doesn’t do any of us, any good.

It was the best advice I’ve ever gotten. It was what got me started in this amazing and crazy and unpredictable journey as a entrepreneur.

And because it’s always a journey, here are 10 other words of advice, that I wish someone had told me when I was just starting out. They are things I had to learn the hard way, but that have made all the difference in the world in helping me turn what I love to do, into what I get to do, every day.

1. Give Yourself Permission

Don’t wait for someone to give you permission to start doing the things you want to do! Whether it’s starting your own business, blog, brand or project.

Trust me, you will never actually feel totally prepared and ready, you just have to do it and start somewhere. You’ll figure it out along the way.

2. Keep It Simple

Don’t get sucked in to subscriptions, big dreamy ideas and complicated business structures if you can avoid it. You can add those later as you grow (and can afford it).

Start with the basics: what you’re offering, how people can pay you and a clean website. Need some inspiration? Grab a copy of The $100 Startup.

3. Stop Comparing Yourself to Others

Give yourself time to meet your goals. Most successful people and businesses have been at their game for at least five to 10 years before things really start to move for them.

The goal is long-term and steady success, although it’s not always as glamorous as the overnight stories. A full calendar year is enough time to really go after it and see what’s working, and expand from there.

4. Offer Up Freebies

Give content, information and great stuff away. For free, and with love. It seems backwards, but free content and ideas is the best way to connect to people and give back. Which leads to more people. Which leads to more business.

See how that works? Plus it’s fun and you can be creative in whatever way suits you. (Follow Marie Forleo for more on this mentality).

5. Know Your Strengths

Get an accountant. Don’t try to do it yourself. Or more importantly, know the things that stress you out the most, and hand those off so you can focus on the real work.

6. Prioritize Reading and Absorbing

Read, read, read and absorb, all you can from people you admire. Owning a business doing something you love means you never stop learning or growing. (See a list of my favorites.)

7. Don’t Be Afraid to Cut the Safety Net

Safety nets are good, but sometimes you have to cut them. Be smart about it, but that extra push to leave your part-time job and go full time into what you love, can often times be the turning and tipping point.

And because you love it, you will work hard at it, but it will be thrilling and exciting instead of tedious and scary.

8. Don’t Forget About YOU

Any creatively driven business is built on the fact that you can be inspired to create. And to be inspired, you have to feel good. Which means you have to make it a priority to do the things that help get you there.

Set a daily schedule that includes time to workout, meditate/pray, eat good food, drink lots of water, sleep and let those creative juices flow. This is IMPORTANT, and not optional to be successful, so don’t ever feel guilty about it.

9. Get Ready to Work Harder Than You Ever Have

You’ll never work harder in your life. But you will also never be more fulfilled and happily working.

There will be tough days, hard days, frustrating days, for sure. Those are what make you grow and are a part of any job. But they will always be massively outweighed by the good, which will always be more than you ever thought possible.

10. Listen to Your Gut

Irrational fears and anxiety are often not real and things we all create in our own heads to keep us playing small — so learning to distinguish these from your true gut instincts around business decisions, partnerships and people.

If you could share one piece of entrepreneurial advice, what would it be?

Photo credit: bernie_moto_photo via Shutterstock.


About the guest blogger: Sarah Adler, is a nutrition coach, healthy lifestyle expert, food blogger, real food lover, and is the founder of Simply Real Health, a healthy lifestyle company on a mission to educate, teach, and inspire others to live their happiest and healthiest life. Her first hardcover cookbook, The Simply Real Health Cookbook: Easy Recipes for A Healthy Life Made Simple launches this March.