Isaac Cothran has a passion for the outdoors that led him to start a unique and profitable business while he was still in high school.

How to Start a Business Based on Your Passion

How to Start a Business Based on Your Passion

CEE Standard: Earning Income

Do you have students in your class who are interested in starting their own business? There are so many different paths they can take. Help them consider starting a business doing something they love. If they have a passion like Isaac, it shouldn’t be tough for them to come up with a ton of ideas. You can turn just about any passion into a way to earn money!

Exploring teens' passions can be both personally and financially rewarding, if given the right guidance.

If I asked you what your biggest passion in life was, what would your answer be? Would you tell me about your dance classes or how you spend your weekends drawing your friends’ portraits?

If you are like Isaac Cothran, you would probably tell me about your love of the outdoors, especially hiking and exploration.

Passion is what drives and inspires many entrepreneurs. In Isaac’s case, his love for all things dirt and trails — and all things bugs and kayaking — led him to find an even bigger purpose in life: starting a business teaching others about the nature he loves.

Teaching and Doing

Isaac was a normal North Carolina 15-year-old. He loved to go kayaking and spent most of his time running. He dreamed of being accepted to the well-known military academy West Point. He never thought he would be a business owner or an entrepreneur.

But one day, while he sat at a coffee shop finishing off some homework, a man told him a story about two friends. Friend A worked full-time painting sidewalks for a local gas company all summer long. He made decent money as a teenager and got experience working a real job.

Friend B worked the same job, but didn’t want to sacrifice his whole summer. Instead, he wanted to spend it doing what he loved — golfing. But he was stuck. How was he supposed to make money and golf at the same time? After some brainstorming, Friend B and his father came up with the idea to teach affordable golf lessons to young kids.

That way, Friend B could make the same money as Friend A, but he could do so with fewer hours at the gas company, and have more time to spend on the golf course.

This story resonated with Isaac, who was not a fan of being cooped up all summer long working a job that didn’t excite him. But what could he do? What service could he provide that would be of value? Like Friend B, Isaac thought of the things he was skilled at and came up with the idea of teaching young students the ins and outs of hiking via guided tours of his area.

“Trailing With Isaac” was born, and Isaac was soon learning how to market himself to families looking for the kind of experiences that he provided. He even began thinking long term, with ideas such as kayaking or mountain-biking trips to widen his appeal.

Guided By Passion

For Isaac, the benefits of not being tethered to a normal teen job meant having freedom. With a little effort and creativity, he has built a business that banks on his skills and passion, not just on his need for a summer paycheck to save up for college.

In addition, he has also added his sense of generosity to the mix, giving back to those in need by donating some of his profits toward a mission trip to Haiti.

Many people say that getting into a business, even a small one, can lead to big things in your life. That’s definitely true for Isaac, though not quite in the traditional sense.

Finally, a cherished dream came true for Isaac: He was accepted to West Point. Naturally, this outdoors guy is doing amazingly well.

Check List

  • What is an entrepreneur?
  • What skills do you need to start a business?
  • Have you ever considered starting a business of your own?
  • What are you passionate about?
  • How can you turn your passion into a business?
  • Do you have a friend or group of friends that might be interested in working with you to start a side hustle? How could you work together?