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Leadership Thought #487 – Business is Much Harder If You Don’t Have Passion

May 23, 2017

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In business (and life), patience may be a virtue, but passion becomes a prerequisite.  Being a small business owner is demanding work especially for founders and growth-oriented leaders. You truly must believe in what you are doing to overcome the many obstacles that inevitably appear on your path along the way.  Most people wouldn’t even try and build a business from scratch let alone do what’s required to sustain it and take the company to another level

I’ve watched many entrepreneurs buckle under the weight of their responsibilities.  I’ve witnessed countless instances of hand wringing, second guessing and diminishing self-confidence.  The leaders who keep going don’t do it because they want or need to, but because they feel they MUST do what’s required to make it work.  As a colleague of mine is fond of saying, “if the “why” is big enough, the “how” doesn’t matter.” Failure isn’t an option because their passion for what they are doing supersedes all else. It’s a myth or misperception that all successful businesspeople are mostly money motivated. Of course, some are, but a much larger percentage see money as the outcome for doing worthy work well.

Passion can have many different catalysts.  There isn’t a one size fits all trigger.  A select group leaders want to save the world or right a perceived wrong.  Others want to solve a hard or complex problem.  Many business owners want to fill an obvious unmet need or build a better “mousetrap.”  Some entrepreneurs just want to serve others exceptionally well.  Many want to build a work culture that they can be proud of.  Some individuals just want to be their own boss and not have to work for someone else.   I’ve observed passions for healthcare, education, security/safety, pest control, construction, food, alcohol, machines and equipment, technology, ecommerce, manufacturing, and various skill trades just to name a few.

The one thing all passionate leaders do have in common is an inner drive to excel because the end-result is always worth it.  Once they lose this connection, I do my best to help my clients rediscover it, but many times the best thing to do is help them find something else to do.  You must be “all in” and not have one foot out the door.  In business, there is no such thing as being partially committed to your success.  The “why” you are doing what you are doing should never be in question.  Not all leaders are meant to lead forever and not all businesses should survive to future generations.  Building and managing a business without passion is like putting a house on an unstable foundation.  Ultimately, stress cracks will emerge, and the structure will become at risk to external forces it cannot withstand.

When I meet a leader for the first time, I typically ask them what they are passionate about (when it comes to their business).  How they answer the question is usually a good guide as to where the conversation ends up going and how their business is actually doing.


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