Passion-based business, or being passionate about your business and what it offers? You are not alone in this question and the struggles that ensue. So many business owners and entrepreneurs wrestle with this question. I also from time to time struggle with the passion-based business question.
I want to start out with a few baselines to make this a fair and balanced discussion. First, it’s hard to argue against some very notable passion-based businesses that have thrived. So a passion-based business is not only achievable, it can be wildly successful. Second, there are many amazing companies out there where the founder/owner created a good company that was not based upon his or her passion. And these businesses are also wonderfully successful.
Wait! Stop the presses!!! Both passion-based and non-passion-based businesses are capable of success. Yes. This is true. So could the struggles of this question be based on the wrong idea? Is it that our internal struggles are personal in nature and not about the business?
I would like to challenge you today about being passionate, offering value and feeling fulfilled in offering a product or service for sale to help others. So where am I going with this?
As a businessperson, leader, parent, student, idea creator, and friend, we all struggle with our passions and how can we be passionate about what we are doing. As I said earlier, you are not alone.
In business, people (just yesterday actually) ask me, how can you be passionate about accounting, marketing plans, USP (unique selling propositions), BPO, balance sheets, hiring, interview tips, business plans, merchant processing, scaling your business, systems and procedures, etc… Yes the list is long. There are many more that I did not even add to the list. It started getting painful. 😉 These are actual items necessary to run a successful company. And yes, we need to focus on them and much more.
So I thought about the question asked of me: Why did you start a business services firm that offers accounting as its core service? This question was of course followed by these comments offered by my friend, unsolicited: 1. You are not an accountant; 2. You should only grow a business you are passionate about; and 3. You can’t be passionate about accounting.
Is he right? Why would I own this company? Will it fail because I lack the needed passion for accounting? What is this needed passion? And are there other questions and issues to address?
I actually got out of that meeting and starting reflecting on these questions, and the offering of value and a needed service started to quickly come to the surface. I quickly thought of the reason for the business and not a focus on my passions. But since I’m on the topic, I am truly passionate about helping people. I’m also truly passionate about offering a business service that helps fill a need in the marketplace. So yes, while I am not an accountant, I do care about the success of a small business and it having the tools it needs to succeed.
So what is this passion thing anyway? Why does it deserve the most recognition when deciding your business idea or pursuit? I am passionate about cooking, writing, dancing, laughing, giving business advice, growing old with my wife, parenting my children, and driving fast (yes I said it!!!). But not all of these things are worthy of a business idea that the marketplace needs or even wants.
I would like to suggest an opposing view to the value proposition: “Find your passion and create a business around it.” How about when creating a new business, or new idea or project within your current company, we think about what value or niche are we filling in the marketplace? Do customers want or need what we are going to create?
So maybe next time instead of creating a business plan or buying a business plan template, you should consider creating a customer plan and inventing a customer template for your idea. Business plans are valuable tools, but they should look more like customer plans and not ways to just raise money. (More on that topic in a later post.)
A business is most likely going to succeed for the long term when you have a value offering that the customer needs or wants, and not a business centered on your passion. I am getting older and hopefully wiser, and as time moves along so do my passions. Our passions for work, play, hobbies and life change as we progress. Yes, things change. So imagine a passion-based business that is solely based on my passionate effort. Wow, that business is in lots of trouble of growing and scaling into a company that is more than a hobby for the long term!
There is a better way. Create a business that fills a need for its customer base. While creating or growing this business, find ways to utilize your passion in the business. It is true that you being passionate about something will lead to its success. But it’s also true that our passions lessen or change over time. So for a business to be stable, it should not be based on a passion but on a need or want for the consumer.
You adding passion and drive to that business will help it survive during the hard times and thrive during the good times. I encourage you today to look at your current company or new creation through the lens of a customer plan. What niche am I creating. What is my offering, valued service, or great product? And how will it help fill a void in the marketplace?
That is the way to build a great business. Now back to your passions. Find ways to breathe life into yourself, your business, and the people in your business through your passions. The business needs it. It is critical for success during the lean times.
I often wish more people led with passion and watch the world change. But as for you and your passions, it’s not the business and its ideas that change, it’s you and your desires.
So how do you feed your passions? The answer is that it can’t only be creating a business around them. Your personal life and things you do within your business are where you will best use your passions.
So I encourage you today to drive with passion, be passionate about what you have to offer the world. And if you can create a passion-based business then great, all the power to you in your pursuit. But for the other 99% of the world, use your passion in the business and stop agonizing over the issue of your business being based on passion.
Building your passion-based business, you may find out that no one wants to buy your passions, or worse yet you create a business only to have your passions change!!!
Vinnie Fisher, Co-Founder and Chief Evangelist, Fully Accountable
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