What I've Learned In Business: Follow Your Bliss

Four years ago, I learned that my firm, Phillips Media Relations, was about to lose its biggest client.

We had been managing media relations for that client, a nonprofit, for six years, but they never fully recovered from the recession and couldn’t afford our services any longer.

I knew we would suffer a big economic blow without them, and I was nervous (“freaked out” might be a more accurate descriptor). I spent many nights crunching the numbers, trying to figure out how to keep my business growing despite the huge setback of losing a high-value client.

Still, by that point one thing was clear to me: I no longer enjoyed doing media relations. I had been writing press releases and pitching stories for a decade, and I dreaded the days I had to engage in one of those activities. It was also clear to me that the other part of our business—preparing for and leading customized media and presentation training workshops—felt enormously gratifying. 

I Love My Job

But the numbers weren’t there. Focusing solely on media and presentation training—and refusing future media relations work—would mean a huge drop in revenue. I faced a decision about whether to do the “safe” thing by continuing to market a profitable service I didn’t enjoy, or to do something riskier by pursuing my passion.

I chose the latter. That’s about the time I started this blog, began writing my book, and dropped media relations from our offerings.

It worked. Every year, the business has continued to grow; the risky decision panned out to be the right one. That’s not intended to sound boastful—the past four years have had their fair share of anxiety, stress, and 60-hour workweeks. And the workload too often comes at the high cost of family time, something I’m trying to improve upon.

But I’m happier and more professionally satisfied than ever, and it’s easy to see myself doing this for the rest of my life. All of this reinforces a lesson that I’ve always believed in and only recently relied upon: If you follow your bliss, success—however you define it—will follow.

This article is part of an occasional series about what I’ve learned from running a business. You can read other articles in this series here.