Many of the small businesses I mentor started off as a passion for something. Carlo Albertoli loves gorgeous Italian food, so it was natural for him to open a deli selling some of the best food in Brighton/Hove. Nigel Berman believes in the importance of cutting carbon emissions, which led to the very successful Nigel’s Eco Store.
So passion is important, but it’s not enough. To get everyone to eat Albertoli’s food or putting their packed lunch in reusable sandwich wraps instead of plastic bags, you need marketing skills. And if you want to sell wonderful artichokes, or radiator boosters, you need to be able to sell enough to pay other people to help you, and to pay yourself too.
Even if you make the best thing ever
Even if you have the most amazing product/service every, you need to be sure that other people share your enthusiasm. Are there enough people who want a game for a mobile phone featuring the speeches of Abraham Lincoln? Or do too many people share your enthusiasm, such as all the mums who sell baby clothes with cheeky printed logos? Please don’t do this by the way, there’s no money in it.
The passion runs out
Like a marriage, your original passion will run out after a while. I guarantee you, after a couple of years, the initial fire in your belly will no longer be there. But a good relationship can run forever, and so can your business. If you’re still learning interesting things, growing as a business and as a person, and making enough money to make yourself comfortable, you’ll have a very different sort of enthusiasm for the business.
Instead of passion
My advice here is to develop a passion for being really, really good at running your business. Learn everything you can about marketing, customer service, finance, how to manage staff and all the other areas that go to make up a successful business. Having spent years developing my skills in this area, I can safely say that there is never an end to what you can learn here. My passion for business rages on, long after my love affair with any particular business ends.
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