As children, we are encouraged to explore — to experiment and find what we love to do. Even in college, professors and advisors promote the idea of discovering our talents and passions prior to deciding on a career path.
However, once we make the leap into the business world, the focus on using passion to drive work often gets lost. It’s replaced by an emphasis on financials and working hard to mark things off a task list.
While many businesses can find profit this way, I believe there is another way to be successful — one that makes customers, employees, and investors eager to be involved.
Four Personal Qualities Essential for Success
I used to run a strategy and innovation firm and gave Fortune 500 executives advice like, “Find an unexploited market niche” or “Price your product to meet market needs.” I thought ROI and shareholder value creation were the most important metrics.
However, over the years, I’ve found the best success stories have four main components:
This is the root of all fundamental building blocks. It creates its own energy, insights, momentum, and results. It drives people to overcome obstacles and create amazing products and services that people open up their wallets for. Think about how passionate some of the great entrepreneurs (i.e. Gates, Disney, Jobs, Branson) were about their companies and products. Their companies were simply extensions of who they were and what they loved. That intensity is the fuel that kept them going through every challenge and innovating world-changing experiences and products.
If you really believe in something, it’s natural to have the desire to go all-in, and it’s imperative to act on that urge. For my new business, we invested a substantial portion of our life savings and moved to Los Angeles from Paris because that’s where I knew my company would thrive. Is commitment terrifying? Of course. But it’s also thrilling and worth the ride.
Walt Disney didn’t want to just be a cartoonist. He wanted to bring magic to everyone’s lives. And Howard Schulz, founder of Starbucks, didn’t want to just create another coffee shop. He wanted to bring the European café experience to Americans. It’s tough to be wildly successful if you think small. Stop seeing limits and embrace the magnitude of what you’re striving to create. Keep expanding the possibilities of what you can create while simultaneously focusing on the immediate execution required to make tangible progress today.
Fierce Focus on Execution
You can have passion, commit, and be bold, but if you can’t execute, you’re simply a dreamer. And while dreams are beautiful, it’s much more amazing when they transform into something real. Surround yourself with a team that can create real products, engage real customers, and make real money from a vision or strategy. You’ll need to make tough sacrifices, but the final product will be something that can actually provide value today as a step toward your larger vision.
Making Your Passion a Business
While these four personal qualities are necessary for the success of any business, passion is the only one that truly matters.
Passion is contagious. It’s the adrenaline and safety net for an entrepreneur when things get difficult. It challenges a team to be positive and work toward a goal. It provides a company with a competitive advantage that can’t be easily replicated. Your passion for an industry or product is what informs everything from product development to customer experience to company culture.
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