A Behind the Scenes Look at Running a Passion-based Business

by | Dec 10, 2012 | Coach Stories | 6 comments

If you are a business owner or are thinking of becoming one, I thought you’d enjoy this behind the scenes look into what it takes to run a passion-based business.

In this candid interview you’ll discover some of the obstacles you’ll face, hear tips for how to overcome them and gain some downright wholesome inspiration for sticking to your dream.

This all comes from the viewpoint of the highly successful online entrepreneur, Susan Fujii, the heart and soul behind KungFuFinance.com.



Benay: When did you officially start your website Kung Fu Finance?

Kung Fu Finance LogoSusan: I actually bought the domain name about three years ago (2009) but I officially started it this year, 2011. My youngest daughter started school in September 2011 and I started writing in October 2011 – just as soon as I had enough time to devote to it.


Benay: You’ve got so far so fast for somebody who just started a year ago. How the heck did you do that?

Susan: Thank you. There’s nothing magical; but I guess there are a few important points:

  1. I write at least three times a week.
  2. I seek out good information and good mentors that can help me.
  3. I’m passionate about my message—that’s really important to me and I love what I’m writing about, so that’s really fun too. I feel like I’m really helping people, which is always very energizing. My favorite thing is going and replying to the comments on the site and things because people are just so great.


Benay: What are the biggest obstacles that you’ve encountered on your journey?

Susan Fujii

Susan Fujii (AKA Kung Fu Girl)


Susan: I think the biggest obstacles are actually my own head. I honestly think that we are our own biggest enemy at times. From the investing perspective I know that’s definitely true. I could give you so many examples.

I think to be a good investor, by nature you need to be somewhat of a contrarian and that is a very hard thing to do. When I first started thinking about buying, for example, physical silver coins and bullion… this was back in 2002. People thought I was crazy. My own husband was like, ‘You want to do what?’ That type of thing was really, really difficult.

You have to have such confidence and trust in yourself and know you’re doing the right thing that you can truly take action on it and go against the herd and really follow your own heart and your own beliefs and make it happen.

It’s easy to sit there and think, ‘Oh yes, I should do that,’ but it’s really hard to do in practice. It was several years afterwards before I actually bought the silver coins. I’m so glad I did when I did because it was definitely the right thing to do and it was still a great time thank goodness!

I look back and think, ‘Wow, if I would have just had the confidence to buy when I first thought about it I would have bought silver for $3 an ounce!’ and I think I finally bought it for $10 an ounce. Today, it is over $30 an ounce.

I think the same thing is true from a business standpoint. There are so many days when you don’t get a lot of feedback and you question yourself or there are days when, I don’t know, everyone just has bad days. You’ll lose your confidence; you’ll lose your bearing, your footing. You just kind of wander, you question yourself.

I think self-doubt is really and truly our biggest enemy. Whatever you can do to get yourself beyond that is so, so priceless.

For that I just look back to my mentors. Craig Ballantyne’s biggest statement, his number one saying, is, ‘Never ever, ever, ever, EVER give up,’ and I think that’s really true.

Everybody fails, right? You keep failing continually I think on your way to success and so you just have to kind of recognize that this is a learning experience and keep moving on, but that is very hard to do. I’m not perfect at that by any means at all.


Benay: When you have that self-doubt, what specifically do you do to get over it?

Susan: A few things. Here are my top tips for overcoming self-doubt:

  1. Get outside and walk around the block.
  2. Call a friend, call my mom, call my husband, call anybody I can think of…I talk it out with other people.
  3. Go see a movie, go do something and take your mind off it.
  4. Go back and read some of the things I wrote very early on and when I was feeling really positive. That sometimes is enough to really perk me up.
  5. Read some positive comments from people that have come onto my site and have said, ‘Oh my gosh, you have helped me so much; thank you so much!’. That is enough to make me think, ‘Oh, it doesn’t matter about this dumb thing that happened. Look at this person that I’m helping!’ That’s very powerful.


Benay: That’s great actionable advice, thank you.

Something I’m fascinated in and I’m trying to help other people understand is the ongoing path to reaching a personal vision. When you are following a dream, some days you’ll have really crappy days and other days you’ll feel totally amazing.

Something that I found, and I’m wondering if you’ve sensed it too is that the further you get in your journey the more you realize that it’s a part of the process AND it gets easier to manage the ups and downs.

Susan: Yes, I think so.

I still feel like I’m just starting. That’s funny.

Sometimes what I do is I remind myself how I felt or what I was doing before I started on this journey. For me, it’s so much more rewarding to be doing this than anything else. Even the struggles are worthwhile because I’m so motivated by what I’m doing and by helping people. I’m so passionate about it that it really helps.

Definitely, the more you do it, the better it gets.

I look back and I think of the things that were such a struggle early on and now I’m like, ‘Oh my gosh, I can’t believe I even worried about that.’

Benay: That’s so true.

Susan: For anybody starting out – it gets better.


Benay: Have you reached a point where you feel that everything has clicked into place, like, ‘I’ve got it; I’m on track now’?

Susan: That’s interesting. That kind of comes and goes for me.

I talk about this a lot on my site. I take a long-term view, more like mastery.

What that means for me is that I’m always learning and growing. I have a burst of learning and then I’ll have this plateau where I’m comfortable and everything’s fine and I’m very zen and la la la.

Then I’ll have this burst of learning again that takes me up to the next plateau. After a while it’s like, ‘Okay, I’m comfortable here’.  Then something new will happen and it’s, ‘Ah, I’m out of my comfort zone again. Now what do I do?’ Then boom, you’re at another plateau.

It’s a constant cycle.


Benay: Wow, I love that story. I just published an article on the Four Levels of Being that provides a great framework for understanding the path you’ve just described.


Ok, two more questions…

If you were to do the whole thing over again, what would you do differently?

Susan: That’s a great question. From the investing standpoint I would definitely just try to get out there and meet people sooner. Again, I think that people are so important.

From a business standpoint, I did that right away and I’m so glad I did. It’s truly meant the world to me. Really, I can’t stress it enough. It’s night and day; it’s just so helpful to have other people out there who are trying to do what you’re trying to do and who understand what you’re trying to do and who are sharing the road and the ride along with you. That’s so powerful.

When I first started, I didn’t get out there and talk to people on the investing side of my business and that is something that I would do differently if I could do it all over again.

I spent the first several years while learning to invest, just me and my books, trying to figure it out myself. I honestly had this perception that everyone else gets this and I’m the dummy. I was embarrassed; I didn’t want to talk to people about it.

Now that I’m further along in my path and in my growth, I realize that a lot of that is a myth. Lots of people feel like they don’t know what is going on. It’s like this message is put out there by some of the large financial institutions because they want you to feel dumb, ‘You can’t possibly figure this out so just give us all of your money and we’ll take care of it for you.’


Benay: Do you have any final words of inspiration to people who are thinking about or are already running a passion-based business?

Susan: Yes.

You can do it!

It is SO worth it and you will meet the most amazing, inspirational people you can imagine. Connect with people in person as much as you can—with your customers and with other entrepreneurs, and build a beautiful and supportive network. You won’t regret it—start TODAY!


Benay: Thank you so much Susan. Your story is sure to inspire beginners and people who are already well into their passion-based business. I know I can relate to all of the obstacles you’ve mentioned!

It’s encouraging to be reminded that ups and downs are just a part of the process of gaining success. It’s also great to hear you say that sticking with your dream is totally worth it.


If you missed our first interview with Susan (AKA Kung Fu Girl), check out this article. You’ll get her full story as well as some non-mainstream wisdom and actionable ideas for what to do with your Finances and Wealth life area.


  1. Sally Branch

    This is so lovely, and so true! I’m also interested in how we actually live the journey – after the inital ‘wow’ has worn off (and before it comes back again :-). (I’m a coach for people in mid-life who’ve lost sight of themselves)

    I struggle especially with the getting out and meeting real people bit – it’s a toughie as I’m not sure how much to accept this as part of me and how much to do it anyway!

    Thanks for this reassuring and empathetic read!

  2. Benay

    Hi Sally. Great to see you here – thanks so much for joining in! This article has also been reassuring for me and given me the final push I needed to officially prioritize meeting even more ‘beautiful and supportive people’ in 2013.

  3. Joy

    I SO NEEDED this today! Just starting my coaching business and it’s been such a roller coaster of emotions. Glad to know this is normal. I’m straightening and strengthening my resolve and getting back on track. Thank you.

  4. Olu

    Thais is really insightful.I gain tremendously from the interview.Thanks for always being around to feed us with the point to move ahead.Regards.

  5. Vilma

    A lot of emotions bursting out of my guts. I’ve been on a rollercoaster of emotions this past month, thinking what to do next with my star up business.

    Yesterday I was opening a bag of chinese cookie and it read “Business is a lot like playing tennis, if you don’t serve well, you lose”. I also read an article from Early to Rise a few days ago on: “expanding your mental paradigm” and what caught my eye was this statement: ” “Anything the mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve” and “When you’re ready for a thing, it will make it’s appearance,” they weren’t just frivolous thoughts.

    Then this morning my computer was updating itself and the first thing that appeared on the screen was my email and this interview from Kung Fu Girl, Coincidence? I don’t suppose so.

    I am on a journey we all are but just a few realize it. Finally on Tuesday before going to my Lay Ministry class I found this inspirational reading I had printed from an email I got, it says ” Ready to quit?”. “Would you change your mind if God himself sent you an email from heaven telling you to try one more time?”.

    And today here I am writing this comment, this day. A new beginning. I believe. Thank you.

  6. Benay

    Vilma, Olu and Joy, thank you so much for sharing a bit of your story. Business is a roller coaster isn’t it!

    As business owners we have so many new skills to learn when we start out. It’s not necessarily hard stuff – just ‘new’ and there is a lot of it! And of course, when you have a million new things to learn at the same time it can be totally overwhelming. It’s normal.

    We need to start seeing ourselves more for what we are achieving and congratulate ourselves, rather that beat ourselves up. Every step you take that moves you closer to your dream is evidence of your own personal strength, commitment and resolve – the stuff real success is made of.

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