Dear Aunty B,
I have been running my recruitment business for nine years. In SmartCompany and elsewhere I keep reading about entrepreneurs who feel passionate about what they do.
I felt enthusiastic at the start – maybe even passionate – but I certainly don’t feel passion now. It bothers me, and I was wondering if I was more passionate, would I build a better business?
First apologies Anne because I have sat on this question for a few weeks pondering my response.
From my research, about half of all entrepreneurs start their business because it is a passion. But half don’t. And the half that don’t are equally as successful.
So I don’t think passion affects the business per se. But passion has its benefits.
It is an energiser and powerful motivator. Passion gets you through the dips.
When the demands of the business seem overwhelming, being able to remember the “higher calling” or the desire to make a difference can let you dig deep and find the resources to go on. In that sense passion can prove to be a competitive advantage.
Passion is also inspirational. Research shows that an entrepreneur’s key attribute is surrounding themselves with the best people and motivating them to perform better than the industry average. Drawing on a passion for the business is a powerful motivator for staff.
Passion probably also helps with marketing. The more passionate you are, the better the press will love you.
But then passion has its drawbacks. It can cause entrepreneurs to be blinkered, out of touch and unwilling to face the hard facts.
And we all know the passionate people are just egotistical zealots and bigots. You know the type. They disguise their self-obsessional, arrogant and narcissistic behaviour behind a veneer of passion and wanting to make a difference. (Did Tony Abbott, or maybe Mark Latham, spring to mind?)
So Anne, not sure I have helped here. Maybe the right passion will help you build a better business. But so will a clear head and a good heart.
Your Aunty B.
Kevin Vincent from LuggageDirect writes: I have the same problem as Anne D, and I have put passion down to ego. Asked myself a thousand times why I don’t wish to expand the business when I have this magic formula that prints money. And always come back to it being just for the ego. So I have thought about being altruistic. But can’t seem to do enough. My stumbling block is I have geared myself to accumulate and diluting my wealth doesn’t go down too well. But I do believe that maybe the answer again is in your response to Anne D – Being with the right people. Now to find them!