Tuesday May 1, 2018
By Salma El-Shurafa
When you read business journals and other publications to take inspiration and lessons from those who have succeeded in the business world, you’re sure to encounter the topic of “passion” quite frequently.
There are some entrepreneurs who conclude that whatever success they have secured was gained simply by following their passion: they did what made them happy, and everything fell into place.
That’s the kind of story every aspiring entrepreneur likes to read or hear, because it presents a romantic journey. In such a story, passion has the miraculous ability to conquer all and lead to success.
Here’s a reality check: As wonderful as passion is, it’s not enough to secure your success as an entrepreneur.
The way you feel about a business idea can change, and you can find yourself questioning what made you love it in the first place. Furthermore, you will learn that as a businessperson, the majority of the tasks you do have very little to do with the activities you actually love, at least until you reach the point where you can delegate the jobs you don’t enjoy.
For example, let’s say you’re a baker and you want your shop to be the number one source of haute couture cupcakes in your city.
When you’re starting out, you can expect to spend half of every workday doing administrative activities instead of baking away in the kitchen. It’s necessary to take care of those as expertly as you bake your cupcakes in order to keep the business afloat.
In this case, baking and cupcakes are what you’re truly passionate about, but you clearly need to demonstrate and develop your leadership identity as a business owner. When you’re an entrepreneur, there’s often a distinct separation between the fulfillment you feel for making what you love and protecting the business.
You need to strike a balance between these two. Otherwise, you’ll find yourself making unhealthy compromises that can mar your quality, either as a baker or as an entrepreneur.
Balancing Passion with Boss Skills
The most successful entrepreneurs will tell you that the best skill to have is to be able to balance self-fulfillment with focusing on what your customers need.
It’s imperative to look at your business as a source of solutions for your target market, and to constantly find out what solutions they need and are willing to pay for. By doing so, your business will stay relevant through the changing times.
Therefore, develop products and services with the full intention of improving the lives of your customers. Concentrate on what you can do for them with your unique know-how and values, and always present your “wares” in the timeliest manner.
Boss Skills to Cultivate
Here are a few other important skills you need to cultivate so your passion can be purposeful and bring success to your business:
1. Identify market needs
The ability to identify an unmet need of potential customers is integral to the advancement of any enterprise. But if you really want to set yourself apart as an entrepreneur, you must be able to do this in an almost prophetic manner.
This basically means that you need to have foresight. You need to be able to predict trends based on both current conditions and situational cycles.
That being said, developing strong business “intuition” by persistently studying your industry is a must.
This is the ability to overcome difficulties, especially when the flame of passion grows dim.
As mentioned earlier, pursuing your passion through a business is not always about doing what you love. It includes a number of tasks that have nothing to do with your passion, but are necessary for getting the enterprise going. Some are a breeze to take care of, while others have an often-frustrating learning curve.
When you have resilience, negative situations won’t stump you. Instead, you stay focused on your goals and strive to outwork the setbacks created by such circumstances.
This is crucial for all entrepreneurs because an enterprise is a growing organism. You can expect your current passion to morph into something else in the future, especially when you start hiring more creative and competitive people.
Think of the enterprise as an environment in which you can realize what you can be really good at in the future, and continue learning for self-discovery and better self-awareness.
Take the time to study. Identify your areas for improvement and work on them. Acquire new skills that you need to grow your business, whether it’s how to speak confidently in public or how to provide constructive feedback. Sign up for business leadership coaching to help you become the kind of boss that influences and inspires the people who work for and with you.
When you’re an entrepreneur, you can’t be exclusively focused on doing what makes you happy. Seasoned entrepreneurs who made it on their own didn’t and still don’t work that way, because passion is good but it’s often self-serving.
Because of this, many people benefit from hiring a personal business coach to help them better understand their present interests, skills and mindset, all of which can affect the way you go about building your enterprise.
A business will not thrive if it’s designed solely to serve you. Businesses acquire their value by being what others need, so go above and beyond your personal passion.
Develop a greater desire to be meaningful to others, and be willing to either learn how to do all the tasks your business needs, or hire someone else to do them. In doing so, you’ll sustain your enterprise and find a longer lasting and deeper sense of fulfillment as an entrepreneur.
Salma El-Shurafa is an experienced Executive Coach and founder of The Pathway Project. She is a Professional Certified Coach by the International Coaching Federation (ICF), a Certified Professional Co-Active Coach from The Coaches Training Institute (CTI), and a graduate of CTI’s Co-Active Leadership program.