Capitalize on my passion?
April 8, 2012 1:27 PM   Subscribe

Is there a perfect-fit career for me somewhere out there that I don't yet know of?

Hi everyone, I've seen a few of these recently so I don't feel as bad asking. I am a senior in college about to graduate and like most of my fellow graduates I am not entirely sure what I want to do with the rest of my life.

I have a plan for the immediate future and will be starting a small business over the next few years. My plan for afterwards was to travel for a couple years, go to business school, and thereafter try to start a not-so-small business. I realize that I will soon enough find out whether business is for me or not, but I have been running through other possible career opportunities in my mind in anticipation of graduation.

My degree is in public policy, environmental science, and a bit of applied mathematics. My passion is for Zen - yoga, buddhism, nature, the environment, slow food, music etc. I have thought to myself that my passion would be something informs my lifestyle, leisure, and work, though my career would be something else. I've always wondered, though, if there might exist a possible career within my realm of passion. I am a bit hesitant to try to monetize something like yoga, for while I love it and want to share it with others, I feel like I would be cheating a bit to capitalize a beautiful practice. Regardless, it has crossed my mind to open a studio, work at a Zen center, or do something of the sorts. Is there anything you might recommend, or should I leave this to the weekend retreats and pursue business if I enjoy it and find myself successful?

posted by masters2010 to Work & Money (5 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Business school (aka an MBA) is generally more useful in finding a management position in a large corporation, rather than in entrepreneurial activities, especially because it generally leaves you with a ton of debt you'll need to service, which is not a position you want to be in when you're struggling to find profitability.
posted by akgerber at 1:54 PM on April 8, 2012 [2 favorites]

The world needs more businesses in every category that are concerned for the environment, nature, Zen principles, etc. No matter what type of business you open, you can bring your ethics to it -- and should. They don't need to be totally separate. You could open a print-shop that only uses recycled paper and sustainable inks, for example. Or you could open a consulting firm with a mission that is shaped around your principles and housed in a green-certified office. Or you could start a co-op grocery store or cafe that uses all organic and local ingredients. I live in Marin Co. CA, and I think just about every business of every sort here is oriented like this in some way, shape or form, so it's certainly do-able.

But if you do want to start a business that lines up more directly with your passions, how about a yoga/Buddhist/Zen bookshop with an attached organic/sustainable/slow food cafe? (Obviously you would need to make sure that there is a large enough potential customer base for this type of business where you open it).
posted by imalaowai at 2:11 PM on April 8, 2012

There are two reasons NOT to "monetize your passion" here.

First, and this applies to ALL passions: when you run something, you're never enjoying that thing; you're facilitating OTHER people's enjoyment of that thing. There's nothing less delicious than being a chef. Chefs eat like crap! Yes, to outsiders looking in, you'll be Mr./Ms. Yoga. To yourself, you'll be a businessperson, period, and it will not feel at all "Yoga-ish". Yeah, you'll TALK about yoga a lot. But that's it. The widgets in which you traffic will just be yoga-shaped widgets, y'know?

Second, spirituality, when you get deeply into it, is not an aspect of life. It's the deep underpinning of it all, regardless of particulars. Yoga is just as present in cleaning toilets (or running insurance brokerages) as in owning an asana studio. In fact, it may be more present in a brokerage, because there you're less likely to confuse "particulars" with underpinnings! Whatever you do, you'll do it as a yogi. Making "yoga" nominally your work while quietly detaching from identifying with particulars within your silent witness just sets the stage for a weird confusing jumble.

Namaste and knock 'em dead!
posted by Quisp Lover at 2:47 PM on April 8, 2012 [2 favorites]

I would just start your business, or work for a bit for an organization that will develop your capabilities in that business, and then start it. Business schools have entrepreneurship programs--mine has a program that gives you money to get something started--but it's a big money drain. Significant debt does not lend itself to risk-taking. If you found that you still wanted to go to b-school in a few years, having started something and being able to talk about what you learned would get you into many schools, particularly those with an entrepreneurship bent. Traveling would not create as strong an application--they want people with roughly 3-5 years of work experience.

I'm currently finishing up at one of those b-schools with a strong entrepreneurship program. MeMail me if you want to know more.

You may also want to check out the Net Impact and Commongood Careers job boards, which may have jobs that would be interesting to you.
posted by emkelley at 4:41 PM on April 8, 2012

Businesses can be ethically run and ethically run businesses can be smart businesses (with business plans) and ethical businesses can be profitable. You can't be naive, but you can be ethical and make money doing what you love. Businesses can only really be truly successful if you're prepared to devote a lot of time and energy to them.
posted by mleigh at 5:59 PM on April 8, 2012

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