How to Build and Monetize a Thriving Business Around What You Love
Building a thriving business is every entrepreneur’s dream, but what if you could take it a step further? What if you could have a thriving business centered around something you love? For the following 21 female entrepreneurs, that idea isn’t too good to be true. In fact, they’ve unlocked practical, tangible ways to bring their passions to life, simultaneously generating an income. By solving their own problems, getting clear on their “why,” and having a scalable plan of action, they are able to wake up each day and dive into work they love and wholeheartedly believe in.
Their reflections and lessons learned are a welcome reminder that perhaps we can have our cake and eat it too. After all, there are no rules that say we can’t love the work we do.
Co-Founder of SWAIR, creating time-saving and multitasking haircare products using clean, high-quality ingredients for people who workout.
My advice: My co-founder and I created SWAIR to solve our own problem: we were passionate about running, but hated washing our hair in the shower after every run. We could not find a product on the market that was able to clean sweaty hair quickly, so we created it ourselves. Chances are, if you have a pain point connected to your passion, other people share in that frustration. If you’re able to find a white space that solves a problem related to your interests, it’s a great way to authentically build a business.
Founder and CEO of Diversability LLC, a community business and ecosystem of over 70,000 on a mission to elevate disability pride.
My advice: Diversify your streams of income. I learned this early on when I learned that disabled Americans are twice as likely to live in poverty. As a disabled business owner, our company makes money through memberships, events, merchandise, sponsorships and partnerships, and speaking engagements. A question to ask yourself could be: If one of your streams of income went away, would you still be able to survive and thrive?
Founder of Brands and Humans, Inc., a brand performance agency for early-stage tech and impact startups.
My advice: Get very clear on your “why.” This will be the anchor you need to keep you focused on pushing through the tough times of entrepreneurship. Be patient, as building a business around your passion means you need to show up authentically to the process, and creating an authentic brand takes time and consistency.
Co-Founder of My Founder Circle, a platform to help female founders build and scale wildly profitable businesses in alignment with their values.
My advice: Build a business for what your customers want and need—not just for what you want. This means doing unbiased customer research and coming from a space of truly wanting to help solve their problem. This is the best way you can avoid “confirmation bias.” On that note, don’t be afraid to pivot. As you start charging for your services, you’ll get a lot of feedback. That feedback is gold!
Founder of Wildes District, an NYC-based design studio that specializes in emerging women’s and e-commerce brands.
My advice: When talking to potential new clients, make sure to take time to really explain the nuances of what you do, your approach, and your specific perspective. When something is a passion, it becomes so second-nature that we often jump halfway in and gloss over details when pitching—we assume that people already know what we are talking about. By taking a step back, and taking the time to fully explain the art, skill, or experience that goes into your business, you will have a better chance convincing potential clients that you’re the best for the job.
Founder of BAUCE Magazine, a lifestyle site for self-made women of color.
My advice: The most successful businesses are those that are built on faith, a mission, and the determination to see your dream come through. When I started BAUCE Magazine, I woke up at 5 a.m. every day before work to create content, tweak my website, and distribute my content even though my media company wasn’t making a single cent at the time. But it was because of my deep-seated belief that women of color needed access to insights from other successful women that I was able to keep pushing until my audience began to grow and I was able to start monetizing my website. I strategically reinvested the first bits of money that started to roll in into the site for marketing and to pay writers, and I have seen that decision directly impact the quality of my content and the brand partnerships BAUCE was able to garner over time.
Co-Founder and CEO of So Syncd, a dating app that matches compatible personality types.
My advice: It’s important to do customer research before building and monetizing a thriving business around your passions. It can be easy to assume that because you’re passionate about something, everyone else is too. But that’s not always the case. Talk to potential customers to gain a deeper understanding of whether there’s a clear pain point and to make sure you’ll be solving a real problem.
Founder of Springstead, helping builders build thriving businesses that have purpose, so we can broaden the impact that we’re making in our communities.
My advice: Pursue your passion, dream big, but reach your goals through strategic, incremental steps. Build a framework that ushers a seed of an idea from idea to concept, concept to pilot, pilot to launch, and launch to growth. Through every phase, have quantifiable targets in place and only push the initiative through if those targets are met. This keeps you accountable for launching opportunities that meet your monetization standards.
Kat de Haën
Co-Founder of The Fourth Floor, a market network on a mission to close the gender power, wealth, and funding gap by diversifying boardrooms and investments.
My advice: Start building your team, or board, around you—it’s never too early. Don’t be shy and vet your idea by talking to as many people as possible. Seek out feedback from supporters with a variety of expertise to benefit from diverse perspectives. If you can launch your company with a strong board of advisors, you will be much better positioned for success.
Founder of Be Spotted, helping small dog service providers thrive by creating messaging that attracts their ideal client and charges more for their expertise.
My advice: Invest in learning what you don’t know. I know my dog-specific marketing coaching method is critical to helping dog service businesses stand out and attract their dream clients. These business owners are great at helping dogs and dog parents, but not promoting their services. However, when I pitch my services and the long-term impact some people will say, “Oh, I don’t have the funds to market my services better.” My argument is, “What’s the cost of doing nothing? Could your business survive the next three to six months if you don’t get any new clients?” No one is born learning how to do everything in a business. It’s important to own that and find the right person to empower you.
Founder and CEO of ThyForLife Health Inc., an award-winning global community and tracking app that provides support for all thyroid conditions.
My advice: Surround yourself with others who are equally passionate individuals and potentially build a community. At the earliest stages of building our ThyForLife thyroid app, I conducted focus groups with individuals who had similar passions and pain points, and those individuals not only helped us develop our product but also became our product advocates. We eventually launched an in-app community too to bring people together. Remember, there are others who share your passions. It is a matter of time and potentially multiple pivots until you figure out the product-market fit and build a business around it.
Co-Founder and CEO of MySyde, connecting service providers directly to their local community who need them and are looking for them.
My advice: I hate to be cliche but life is too short not to do something you love. It can be what you do on the side or it can be what you do for your career. Just please do something that feeds your soul. When your soul is fed, you find yourself and more.
CEO of Magical Teams, a hiring and operations consultancy for small businesses looking to uplevel and build their dream team.
My advice: It’s important to align your passions with product-market fit. You’ll need a lot less than you think to get started. The website, branding, and sales pitch matter much less than being curious, interacting with people, prototyping, beta testing, and delivering a minimum viable product that meets a need or solves a problem for someone. Find the someone(s) who matter to you. Get inspired talking to them and make something awesome for them. When they become repeat customers and refer people who also buy from you, then you’ve found something you can build out further!
Monica M Rivera
Business Clarity Coach at YOU WANNA DO WHAT?!, helping women of color aspiring to master their mindset, get clear on their business idea and market their expertise.
My advice: Clarity is the key to success. Begin by focusing on two questions: Who am I serving? Getting really specific on who your business is for is the cornerstone of your messaging, branding, and content. Why do I want to build a business around this topic or passion? Crystallizing your why must not be overlooked because it’s the fuel that will keep you moving forward through the ups and downs of your business journey.
Co-Founder of ViTel Health, Inc, a full-service platform that empowers independent physicians to provide high-tech and high-touch care directly to patients.
My advice: Passion is one of those words that we use to mean excitement and drive. It actually comes from the Latin word meaning “to suffer.” Suffering can truly be one of our greatest catalysts to success when we take the resources we ourselves used to overcome suffering and turn them into products and services that can benefit others. When you feel stuck, small, or beaten down, look around you—those suffering alongside you are your future clients.
Founder and CEO of The Path, a meditation community.
My advice: It’s key to not think about what you would want. You need to get into the mind of your customer and think, “What would they want? What would hundreds, thousands, or even tens of thousands of people want?” You also need to realize, and come to peace with, the fact that your business is in a market you are passionate about, but you are ultimately running a business, so you need to enjoy raising money and/or making money, hiring people, managing people, marketing, and all that it takes to run and scale a successful company.
Founder of Laura Alexandria Marketing, social media marketing for thoughtful businesses looking to expand their reach.
My advice: Envision end-to-end how your product or service will work—from the initial touch point to how the person will use the product or service. Being passionate about something is definitely required to start a business, but it is important to understand how you can scale your passion, if it is something you truly desire when it becomes work. Your work changes your passion and your passion changes the way you work. Fully stepping into what that future looks like will help you understand where to monetize and how!
Founder of CustomHappy, shipping out unique, one-of-a-kind products all around the world.
My advice: Set up a big picture goal and then reverse engineer that goal into quarterly, monthly, weekly, and daily action steps that will bring you closest to that goal. There are going to be a lot of things competing for your attention and a lot of random chaos. But if you make it a point to focus on the biggest needle-mover activities, you’ll have the highest chance of success. You might not know all of the best action steps in the beginning and you can course correct as needed as long as you’re intentional each day with the things that have the highest likelihood of taking you to where you need to go.
Founder of Frenchie Ferenczi Strategies, a growth and marketing consultancy for highly ambitious experts and creatives.
My advice: Specificity is essential. Think “cooking” versus “plant-based cooking for toddlers.” Your passion can be broad, but to monetize your passion, get specific about which piece of it is the core of the business. When you try to productize something too general, the impact is immediately diluted.
Founder of Greatest Story Creative®, helping coaches, consultants, and service business owners brand and grow their greatest businesses.
My advice: Be the chef, not a salad bar. So often when you aim to build a business around what you love, you end up providing services like a salad bar, offering all of your skill sets and abilities to prospective clients like ingredients, available to rearrange and remix how they see fit. In my experience of guiding hundreds of coaches and consultants, a stronger strategy is to approach your services like a chef: you’re the expert, so focus on creating one signature service just as a chef might build a signature salad; one people will make a reservation for, get a glass of wine with, and pay premium prices to enjoy. Because when you embrace “being the chef” and market one or two amazing, well-productized services that solve big, valuable problems for your ideal clients, that’s how you’ll become known, build a business around what you love, and be profitable in the process.
Founder and CEO of The Refill Shoppe, an ever-innovative, sustainable solution to modern-day consumerism.
My advice: There is nothing quite like bringing your own ideas to life. The trick is to do so in a way that is both sustainable and profitable. Start small, where you are, and really flush it all out. Details are paramount. From there, grow smart, let your successes lead the way, and be sure you are learning absolutely everything you can. Others will help you along. There is no shame in asking for help or admitting what you do not yet know. Above all, listen to yourself, trust yourself, and believe in yourself—you’ve got this!
All individuals featured in this article are members of Dreamers & Doers, an award-winning community that amplifies extraordinary women leaders and entrepreneurs by securing PR opportunities, forging authentic connections, and curating high-impact resources. Learn more about Dreamers & Doers and get involved here.