Catching Up

Should We Mix Passion With Business? M’sian CEOs Give Us Their No BS Opinion.

Should you turn your passion into a business? This is a debate that has been raging on for a while.

Some camps would say, you should instead turn your business into your passion. Others would say that you should turn your passion into your business.

They also say that the reality is when you open a business, you have to run the business. In doing so, you have to do and oversee many functions from marketing to accounting to handling employees to dealing with customer service and more.

Thus, you will be spending less time doing what you enjoy.

Also, having your passion as your business might mean you are too invested in it, to the point that you can’t make decisions based on logical business sense.

On the other hand, there are people who have turned their passion into a business and actually still enjoy what they are doing. Obviously, having this state means that you’ll be very fulfilled, and probably happy.

We decided to speak to some entrepreneurs running their own businesses, to get their take on this question.

1) Jessie Chong, Founder Of Boozeat

Jessie of Boozeat has a fundamental passion for music. However, as most Malaysians can relate, her traditional Chinese mother was strongly against it hence Jessie did not pursue music further.

Jessie then took up her second passion e-commerce and ventured into the alcohol industry.

She managed to turn it into a business as she understood that there was a clear problem—the alcohol industry was still run in a traditional manner and was not digitised.

She stated that turning her passion into a business has made her job much more interesting. She has learnt plenty of new skills and is looking forward to learning more to make the industry better.

For those who want to pursue their passion and make it a business, Jessie said, “Totally go for it!”

However, she believes that there must be a strong support system in place to guide you through the journey of ups and downs.

“You can never expect how many times you’ll actually want to give up, or doubt [yourself].”

2) Imran Sheik, Founder & CEO Of Ombré

Imran of Ombré always had a passion for the creative industry and it was why he started Ombré as a business based on fashion styling.

He believes that once your passion becomes your job, you will not be tired of it.

He added, “If our passion becomes our job, it’s easier for us to go through all the extreme hardship that comes with it, because we love our job.”

Especially for startups during their first few years, he warned that it will be extremely challenging and it’s very unlikely that you will become billionaires in that short time.

“So if you don’t love what you’re doing, the tendency of you giving up is way higher.”

However, he says to take precautions while pursuing your passion.

“You need to find the passion that can generate a scalable business”. There are such things as passion that you cannot monetise, make sure your passion can eventually build a scalable profitable business.

“Find a passion that checks all four boxes. And never settle for less.”

3) Stuart Thomas, Founder Of Babylon Vertical Farms

Stuart of Babylon‘s true passion lies in building things that push the world forward, whether it be farming, medicine, or space exploration.

His key piece of advice is to surround yourself with equally, if not even more, highly motivated people, whether it be in the office, or your close group of friends.

“I’m lucky I’ve got both in my co-founder Abang Dzulqarnaen.”

To him, before pursuing your passion into a business, find out what kind of leader you are and want to be.

“Having teammates like Eshton Thomas and Joel Tan really helps balance out my shortcomings.”

4) Sharmila Anne Ramani, Co-Founder Of Potions

After working in her boring day-to-day office job which gave her no satisfaction, Sharmila of Potions decided to pursue something that she loved doing. Hence Potions was born.

She told us that working on her passion to her never feels like a job, and she doesn’t get bored of it.

Sharmila said, “Every day is a new discovery, we even surprise ourselves when we achieve something we never thought we could.”

“When you’re on the right path, the excitement from achieving a new goal is like leveling up in a game! Boredom only sets in when you have lost your focus and forgotten to have fun.”

“Be brave to pursue your passion into a business.”

However, she advised anyone thinking of taking that path to ensure that you have a sufficient amount to cover your daily expenses before you quit your job. Have a solid plan that you have tested first and are ready to execute.

“If you believe you can do it, you’ll find a way to do it.”

5) Ee Soon Seng, Managing Director Of The Techy Hub

During his career working as a front end developer for a digital advertising company, Ee Soon Seng of The Techy Hub did not have a particular passion but he began to start enjoying what he was doing.

He then got involved with simple HTML/CSS web development work and then decided to open web/app development house to pursue his key passion of coding and teaching people to programme.

He enjoys his current work but notes that sometimes it does get boring if their task scopes are limited and they keep on doing repetitive tasks.

It is important for him to treat each job assignment as a challenge to see whether he achieves higher standards and better results through a more efficient process.

“As long as you discover something new while doing it, you tend to love it rather than get bored of it.”

His takeaway: be prepared to face the risks, especially in terms of cashflow; he once went without pay for 4 months.

“There were many times when my funds were close to running dry. You have to learn to deal with financial and emotional stress, before you can be captain of your ship.”

Therefore, make sure you have a backup plan and budget wisely, and make sure you have at a years worth of capital to sustain yourself.

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So after reading their stories and how they have built a business out of their passion, and have managed to keep it their passion, perhaps others will be inspired to do the same. But it’s also clear from their sharing that it is important to keep your feet on the ground, and be practical, even as you chase your dreams.

What other questions would you like to ask entrepreneurs and business owners? Let us know in the comments. 

  • To read more about inspirational stories from entrepreneurs, click here.

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Check out the latest industry with the highest retrenchment rates in Singapore here.

 

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