The day you graduate from college is not the day you should leave behind your passion in order to begin a career; it’s your moment to turn a lifelong passion into a career.
I always dreamed of working in the world of movies. There is a prescribed path for following that dream: move to Hollywood, network, make coffee, become a production assistant if you’re lucky, eat through your savings, and hope someone notices you.
As it turns out, I ended up taking a different path that has let me live out my passion in a way I couldn’t have expected. Throughout high school and college, I realized that the technology behind video brought me as much joy as the storytelling process itself. Pursuing this slightly different take on my passion allowed me to turn my love of filmmaking into a business.
I started my online video hosting company with no experience in building a product, finding customers, or hiring a team, but my passion for film and video were enough to motivate me to start a business that now spans 50 countries and provides more than 110,000 customers with the ability to utilize video for business purposes.
For all those passion-seekers trying to make their dream a profitable reality, I share the following three tips based on my experience:
It takes a long time to build a strong, lasting company. I figured I would either get rich or run out of money within the first year of starting my company. I certainly hit my fair share of road bumps along the way, from living off canned chili for a while to not taking a salary for two years. In many cases, startups are likely–and expected–to fail, but I credit that to an entrepreneur not having an intrinsic passion for the industry they’re developing a business in.
Finding something you care about enables you to work through both the triumphs and failures. Although it took eight years to develop a sustainable company, I’ve remained passionate about filmmaking and the benefits of video the same as I did in college.
Keep your eyes open, because you might just find an entrepreneurial opportunity when you least expect it. When you’re passionate about something, you learn all there is to know and start identifying ways that you want to do something differently, providing those “ah ha” entrepreneurial moments.
If I had opted for another job out of college as opposed to the one I took in documentary filmmaking, I would not have seen the growing demand for online video hosting platforms from filmmakers and production studios. This experience, in turn, led me to see the enormous market opportunity of helping businesses leverage the power of video.
If you want to be the next Bill Gates or Steve Jobs, don’t shy away from being a pioneer. Overcome your fear of the unknown and step into uncharted waters by creating a unique product that no one has seen before or by providing a distinctive service not available on the market.
We were superbly naive when we began, which is usually the case in a nascent space. There were no industry veterans to turn to for advice. Breaking into a new space can be daunting, but the drive to learn and adapt the fastest is fueled by the passion developed in college and desire for success that comes after graduation.
—Chris Savage is the cofounder and CEO of Wistia, a web-based video hosting solution built for businesses. He founded the company in 2006 with the goal of helping businesses effectively market their products or services in a smarter way through video.