What if I said passion does not matter to success as a small business owner? Last week I was in Los Angeles teaching from the stage at the Elevate Live event with Ali Brown. I love talking with the many coaching clients in Elevate. But several times I listened as individuals talked about their beliefs with such great passion and conviction that I realized they believe their passion alone will magically create a small business for them. I wondered if a few women I spoke to would be able to calm down enough to actually put a plan to their passion. As I flew back to the East Coast I started questioning the often-heard belief that you've got to have total passion to make it as a small business owner.
It's very trendy right now to talk about “living your life purpose” and “turning your passion into profits.” And this can surely work. I think about the little man I once coached who had been making fabulous miniature furniture for doll houses for decades. After urging from his family he finally decided to learn basic business skills and opened a small retail shop. That business is still running today. Notice that I mention his going off to get help with business skills? It's an important point.
On the other hand, I think about the dozens of women who talk with me about wanting a business to help other women “transform their life” or “find their passion in life.” In every case, these women have themselves undergone a transformation of some sort. They were depressed and got out of it, they were overweight and became skinny, they were miserable in their marriage and fixed it or got divorced, they were stuck at home and changed their life through finding community. These women feel so much better, so much a part of life instead of watching life go by that they are totally convinced every other woman will want to transform, too.
The issue I see is that these women can't stop talking about transforming others long enough to sit still and talk about their target market, their offers, or how they are going to structure and run their business. They are so excited about transforming others that they can't be bothered to come down to earth and think of themselves as business owners who are responsible to review a profit and loss statement every month. “It will just happen, the world needs this!” one starry-eyed woman gushed to me a few months ago. “I'm not good at the nuts and bolts, I'm a transformative, creative being, I can't stand to put a price on what I do,” another one told me over the phone.
At the risk of being called a naysayer and a joy killer, I'd like to hand out a few tips to these passionate women who think every other woman would surely want to go through the same transformation they have been through themselves.
- Your passionate beliefs about what others need will not ring true or be of interest to every woman.
- Your ideal client (or target market) is not every woman. No, every woman doesn't “need” what you went through yourself.
- Your long-winded stories coupled with an euphoric belief in how much better off others would be to go through a transformative process often overwhelms those listening to you. They cannot grasp exactly what it is you are offering and how it will benefit them in a meaningful way. You sometimes sound belittling to those who don't “get it.”
- When you give away your work to others “because you believe in it so much” it does not build a sustainable business for you that will pay your bills and put food on your table.
- The most successful business owners have learned to think of themselves as both passionate about their business AND as business owners. They are not afraid to look at what isn't selling, what is working well, and adjust their offers accordingly. They have also learned that prospects are not as passionate about the “tranformative thing” as they are. If the prospect was already as passionate she would not need what you offer as she would have already found the transformation herself.
Passion is fine but it isn't necessary for a wildly successful business. And when it is present it has to be married to planning. Passion plus planning and learning to market in words that attract rather than overwhelm is the key. Passion doesn't matter if there is no partnering with business planning. There! I've said it! Do you agree? I'd love to hear your comments below.