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Chicago: Here's what happens when passion meets profits

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When Passion Meets Profit

Every budding entrepreneur experiences a moment when she realizes that the passion project she has been working on can no longer settle for evenings and weekends. The realization that part-time passion just won’t cut it is a hard one to face. The problem is that while emotion encourages us to “do what you love and love what you do,” logic (sometimes fueled by fear) is quick to add, “as long as it pays the bills.”

For some entrepreneurs this realization serves as the catalyst for them to put in their two-week notice while for others this realization causes them to wonder whether the passion in question is really a business or a hobby (an important distinction). All in all, this realization is followed by a life-altering decision.

SheSays Chicago recently took over the headquarters of Basecamp, one of Chicago’s most notable startups, to discuss the emotional and logical appeals of turning passion into profit. Mig Reyes has been a strong supporter of our group and welcomed us with open arms! Thanks Mig for being such a fantastic host!

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Our panelists were:

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Thanks to an audience full of inquiring minds and business savvy, our panelists had an open conversation, sharing knowledge, ideas and opinions.  “The fact that you are all here is a great first step,” Jenny Beorkrem replied when asked how to break into business with something you love.  A business major, Jenny decided to learn to screen printing when she couldn’t find posters of the city of Chicago that were to her liking.  From this need to create something original, Ork Posters was born. Ork Posters in turn funded her second venture, Neighborly, a curated retail shop that supports other indie makers.  Beorkrem emphasized the importance of creating a business plan as a guide, but noted that business plans don’t have to be followed to the letter since business and personal goals can evolve in the passion to profit process.

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Fellow panelist Kit Graham added, “You don’t have to have the end result to start, that is what the journey is for.” Kit’s journey is certainly an example of personal and professional evolution at work. Not only did Kit create The Kittchen, a food site focused on recipes, restaurants and travel, she also co-founded the Windy City Blogger Collective, to provide resources and community for other Chicago area bloggers. Plus, she self-published The Gourmet Grilled Cheese Cookbook. Quite the delicious journey!

The number one tip from our panelists on turning passion into profit was to focus on one thing at a time. Discipline and consistency together combined with passion was acknowledged as a winning formula for success.

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Aspiring entrepreneurs were advised to focus on finding work that fulfills them and to consider what they personally deem as important in life. For example, panelist Lisa Lubin turned her love of travel into a career. After more than a decade in broadcast television, Lisa took a sabbatical, which turned into three years traveling around the world. Her writing and photography has been published by American Way Magazine, Wall Street Journal, Chicago Tribune, West Jet Magazine, Sheridan Road Magazine, and others. She also has a book titled The Ultimate Travel Tips: Essential Advice For Your Adventures. Lisa encouraged the audience to make time to find their passion.

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Panelist Susie Jendro had one caution to the “find your passion” advice. “If you beat yourself up with your passion, it won’t be your passion anymore,” she noted. Susie is a Technology Manager at OgilvyOne by day and a soap maker at night.  Her company, SWOON soap, Susie focuses on creating all-natural, eco-friendly bath and body products. When the conversation turned to fear of failing and how to start the passion into profit process, Susie imparted some wisdom from her personal experience. “You don’t have to be safe, let fear motivate you. You can always start over.”

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Our conversation just scratched the surface on the passion into profit process. We hope to dig into some related topics such as finance, legal and marketing for small businesses during future events starting with our first Speed Mentoring event on Thurs, June 25.  Follow us on Twitter (@shesayschicago) for updates. Also, be sure to read Windy City Cosmo’s event recap for this “Passion into Profit” panel.

Huge thanks to our wonderful event photographer Elina Ava. She can be found on instagram and twitter @koshka_bluez. Another shout out to our teammate Elisha-Rio Apilado for the delightful chalkboard drawing and infographic!

Until next time!

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Share intel with us! Curious about SheSays Chicago? Contact us at chicago@weareshesays.com for more information about our events. SheSays is a global, award-winning network organization focused on the engagement, education and advancement of women in the creative industries. The Chicago chapter is led by Jen Lemerand (@UpsideDwnGlsses), along with team leads Anuli Akanegbu (@anuliwashere), Ashley Charleson, Suzanne Cohen (@suzannecohen01), Julie Goldsberry (@julieofthewolfs), Christian McKenzie (@fashionweeking) and Beckie O’Connor (@roc_onn). Tweet or follow us at @SheSaysChicago!