Entrepreneurial passion runs strong in my family. As the son of immigrants, I grew up watching my father launch new businesses every time we moved to a new country. Eventually, once we put down roots in Orlando, Florida, he found success running a chain of souvenir and retail outlets aimed at tourists.
This is when the gears began turning in my head. I was 13 years old, and I absolutely hated shopping. I was bored out of my mind every time I hung out at one of my dad’s stores, and I knew there had to be other people just like me. So I leveraged one of my own passions — basketball — to launch my first business venture.
I spent $3,000 on a used ICE Street Fever pop-a-shot basketball game and installed it in one of my dad’s shops — just like that, FTAI, Inc., was born. After seeing how popular the game was with bored shoppers, I kicked things into overdrive. At my peak, I owned 10 pop-a-shot games and was making more than $50,000 a year on them.
Since then, I’ve discovered that passion can come in many forms. If my pop-a-shot company was built around a personal passion of mine, my next endeavor revolved around my professional passions. After graduating from college, I partnered with one of my closest friends to open the first franchise of College Hunks Hauling Junk. At the time, I didn’t care much for cleaning up nasty messes or carrying sofas down 10 flights of stairs, but I was highly passionate about entrepreneurship, ingenuity, and financial independence — and this passion helped the company grow into the national powerhouse it is today.
Similarly, when I leased a struggling Shell station in 2009, I was far from a gasoline connoisseur. However, I’ve always been a huge math and economics geek. After a few weeks at the helm, I decided to begin pricing our gasoline to be competitive with international markets — and as a result, our profits soared.
My success with the gas station gave me the financial freedom and flexibility to pursue even more passions. After being diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 2009, I got a firsthand look at both the medicinal benefits of marijuana and the barriers that prevent patients from reaping them. I wanted to make the process easier for others, so I spent two years investigating where and how I could make the biggest impact on the medical marijuana industry.
Last year, I partnered with an old friend, Dr. Brian White, to found MMJRecs in California, a state that’s at the forefront of the medical marijuana battle. Since then, we’ve connected thousands of patients to doctors, granting them convenient access to medical marijuana cards.
Let Your Passion Fuel Your Success
As illustrated by my story, passion — in all its forms — will spur the motivation, creativity, and ingenuity entrepreneurs need to succeed.
Here are three tips to help you turn your passion into a thriving business:
Identify your habits (good and bad). Recognizing and understanding your habits will help you identify more efficient or entertaining ways to reach your professional goals. For example, my habit of wanting to pull my hair out every time I was stuck in a souvenir shop led to my lucrative pop-a-shot business. Self-medicating with marijuana while battling cancer opened my eyes to the rewarding business opportunity I’m currently in the midst of.
Evaluate what makes you happy. Search for entrepreneurial opportunities that revolve around the things that make you happy. This will make your professional journey so much easier and so much more fulfilling. Personally, I’m happiest when I’m making other people happy; it’s no coincidence that my pop-a-shot business, College Hunks Hauling Junk, and MMJRecs all brought joy to people’s lives in some way, shape, or form.
- Find a problem you can solve. It’s a cliché, but it’s true: At the end of the day, a business is only successful if it solves a problem. With a little deep thinking, it shouldn’t take long to identify how your passions can be applied to an ongoing issue consumers are facing. Whether that’s bringing organization to the lives of hoarders, helping sick people gain easier access to medicine, or simply curing the boredom of teenagers, use your passion to help others overcome their challenges.
Entrepreneurs who are passionate about their businesses aren’t driven by profit; they’re driven by the joy of doing what they love. Financial success is only the happy byproduct of this approach.
Passion provides perseverance, vision, and an undying entrepreneurial spirit that helps people do what they love for the rest of their lives.