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You need passion for your venture but much more

At the Jim Moran Institute of Global Entrepreneurship, we have seen so many different businesses in the last 14 years — nearly 3,000 — with so many flavors of entrepreneurs. They all have tremendous passion for their business and care about their staff and their customers. However, they did not succeed by having passion alone.

My colleague, Barbara Lay, and I were meeting with an individual who had just been laid off and now wanted to start a business. We asked her many times why she wanted to do this as she had been an employee all of her working life — more than 20 years. She responded that she had been laid off four times and just did not want to go through this again. She also said that she had so much passion for a new Web concept.

As we delved more deeply into her idea, we quickly realized that yes, she had a passion for it, but she did not care if there was a demand for the service. All she wanted was to follow her passion, and she was sure she would be a success.

One of my favorite ways to deal with cases like these is to remind the person of the classic baseball movie, “Field of Dreams.” There is a memorable quote from the movie that says, “If you build it, they will come.” I am here to tell you that this is just not true. What the quote should have said is, “They will come only if there is a good reason for them to.”

When I brought this up to the entrepreneur, her eyes rolled, and she just refused to recognize that what she wants may not play or pay well in the marketplace. While she had tremendous passion and skills for making the concept work, there was no real demand for the service.

One of the hardest things about our job at the Jim Moran Institute is that we can give people good advice, but they may not follow it. In this case, I am sure that this individual will move forward with her idea, and unfortunately, she will crash. I hope that I am wrong, but it is very risky for an entrepreneur to move forward on faith without any market validation or demand.

Entrepreneurs need to have passion. That is definitely a prerequisite for success, but they also must make sure that their passion is tempered with wisdom.

Now go out and make sure that you have both passion and wisdom in any new venture you take on.

Jerry Osteryoung, the director of outreach of the Jim Moran Institute for Global Entrepreneurship in the College of Business at Florida State University, the Jim Moran Professor of Entrepreneurship; and professor of finance, can be reached by e-mail at or by phone at (850) 644-3372.