Success calls for two kinds of passion

Over the years, as I have talked with budding entrepreneurs, it continues to amaze me how many have not conducted anything close to a prudent amount of research as they start their businesses. Indeed, they often act as if they must get their business going right now or they will just pop.

This kind of impatience is dangerous.

Doing my best to talk them down off the ledge, I walk the fine line between slowing them down a little and dousing the fire of their entrepreneurial passion with my tough love.

Yes, passion is important. And when would-be small business owners get that far away look in their eyes at this impetuous stage of a start-up, they have plenty of passion for what the business does. They can’t wait to sell suits, manufacture plastic parts, bake bagels or (your dream here). But while their passion for what they want to do will come in handy, without a healthy attraction for business fundamentals, passion has only slightly more value than a dream. As the Texans say, it’s all hat and no cattle.

This will be on the test: Success as a small business owner requires two kinds of passion: The first is the love of what you want to do, as described above. This is like the way a mother loves her newborn baby, and it’s the easy kind. In fact, it’s too easy.

The object of the second kind of small business passion is less adorable but not less important. This is passion for a profession that requires dedication to learn and practice management fundamentals and acceptance of a return-on-investment timeline that pushes the deferred gratification envelope. See, I told you it was less adorable. The closest kin to this kind of passion would be that which is required for parents to love their teenagers anyway, during those moments when they don’t like them very much.

It’s critical for a starry-eyed start-up to make the distinction between these two types of passion. Passion for what you sell won’t be enough when payables exceed receivables, making payroll (“Is it Friday again? Already?!”), when customers are the most difficult, when an employee becomes part of the problem, etc.

These and a long list of other abiding small business challenges will require you to deliver on the management fundamentals you became good at because you had that other kind of passion – the kind that made you become a high-performing, professional business owner, not just someone who dreamed of being one.

Small business success requires both kinds of passion.

Recently on The Small Business Advocate Show, I talked with my good friend, Tim Berry, about some of the myths of small business ownership, including his thoughts on passion and persistence. Tim is the founder of Palo Alto Software, developer of Business Plan Pro software, and author of The Plan as You go Business Plan and Hurdle: The Book of Business Planning. I hope you’ll take a few minutes to click on the links below to listen and, as always, be sure to leave your own thoughts and/or experiences.

Myth 1: You can be your own boss

Myth 2:  Passion and persistence are enough

Myth 3:  A business plan is no longer necessary

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