Entrepreneurs rarely hesitate to talk about the importance of passion and why passion is necessary to succeed. Starting a business is hard, with the majority of enterprises failing within the first few years. If you do not passionately believe that your business will accomplish something worthwhile, it becomes that much harder to slog through those long beginning hours while often getting paid less than your old job.
But while passion may be a necessary prerequisite of a successful business, it is not enough. Business is about using your head as much as your heart, and so entrepreneurs must be able to balance passion with an ability to analyze the numbers, keep a cool head, and have the grit to get through those tough times. Here are some of the key reasons why passion must always be balanced in order to succeed in business.
Passions vs. Expertise
A few years ago, I decided to practice shooting a gun for the first time. My gun instructor observed to me that women are generally better beginner shooters than men. Men are more interested and passionate about guns, but that interest causes men to think that they know what they are doing when they pick up a gun for the first time even though they do not. Women know that they are ignorant, and so are more willing to listen to the instructor.
As that anecdote demonstrates, passion is no substitute for expertise and it is possible to be both passionate yet ignorant about a subject at the same time. The first step is thus to learn and listen to experts, whether in your subject field or business in general. Listening is one of the most important skills business leaders can have, as it shows that you are willing to learn and value other peoples’ opinions. Listening develops learning. Learning develops competence. And competence combined with passion creates a successful business.
Understanding Your Passion and Business
If passion is necessary to lead a successful business, you might expect the CEO of Starbucks to be passionate about coffee. But Carmine Gallo with Entrepreneur noted that when he sat down with Howard Schultz, Schultz did not bring up the word “coffee” in more than an hour. Instead, he passionately talked about Starbucks as an experience and its potential to be a third place between work and home.
There are many different forms of passion beyond the normal definition of “doing what you love.” Steve Jobs loved passion, but he also discussed how a business leader should think about changing the world instead of a self-centered focus on your own passion. Think about creating a great experience like Schultz, or helping others like Jobs, and that will last longer than a temporary interest in a subject.
Passion and your Employees
You may be passionate about turning your business into an experience, like coach builders, and making it into something more than a business, and you hope that your employees do the same. But let us be serious. The majority of their employees are at their jobs not because they are passionate about the business, but because they have bills to pay. And employees can find it incredibly grating when some out of touch leader talks about the importance of passion while they have to worry about rising costs and stagnant wages.
So get in touch. Employers can work to help rekindle passion in employees by engaging with them, letting them know what is going on with the company, celebrating their birthdays or other special moments, and generally making them feel like they are a valued member of a team and not just an employee. But while creating employee passion is critical, do not assume that your employees value the same things that you do. Give them the freedom to approach things in their own way, and they will have a chance to find their own passions which can help your business in unexpected ways.
Staying Focused through Hard Times
It is easy to be passionate about a subject which you treat as a hobby. But when you make it your business, can you stay passionate when you are working on it at 3 in the morning while knowing that all of your efforts will likely fail? Most people lose their passion in that situation, and then have nothing else to fall back on.
is no substitute for expertise, and it is no substitute for a strong work ethic
and discipline either. Every entrepreneur hits a wall at some point, and there can be no other solution but to put in an
80 to 100 hour week after week until you can break through the wall. Anyone can
be passionate about an idea, but not everyone has that drive and work ethic
which distinguishes successful and unsuccessful business leaders.