Friday February 26, 2016
When small business owners are first starting out, passion is rarely in short supply. But as the months and years start to add up, many entrepreneurs find that their internal flame of passion is dwindling. Usually this happens as a result of overwhelm, confused values, and too narrow a focus.
Regaining your passion for your business is well worth the challenges. To help you get started, these 5 entrepreneurs have shared their tips for keeping that fire lit!
1. Make Hiring Decisions Based on Cultural Goals
“Culture can be a competitive advantage; you can’t deliver good service from unhappy employees,” says Gene Caballero of GreenPal. But he thinks a lot of business overemphasize the wrong aspects of culture, and ignore what truly matters for building a great team.
"You can’t deliver good service from unhappy employees." [Tweet this]
“In the beginning, we as entrepreneurs must focus and prioritize the basics and fundamentals of creating a scalable business over trying to build a cozy culture,” he explains. “Ping Pong tables, free lunch, and massages help make some companies a great place to work, but these things did not make a company great in the first place.”
Gene encourages a focus on the hiring aspect of culture over the perks aspect, particularly encouraging business owners to search for employees that you would enjoy hanging out with socially.
“In its most potent form, culture should refer to the aligning values of the organization; do you and your team members all believe in the same things?” he asks. “This adds purpose to the mission, and passion is a product of purpose. These are the elements by which real culture is created.”
Remember that culture is about human beings, not perks. Your hiring decisions are much more important than your decisions about whether or not to include a Wii in the break room.
2. Stay Outward-Focused & Give Back
“About 6 months ago I started donating 5-10% of my monthly profits to charity and good causes that I believe in,” says Alex Genadinik, owner of an online business that helps entrepreneurs with apps, books, and online resources. “This has been an incredible boost for my business because in a way, making my business grow helps me make more of a positive difference in the world.”
"I started donating 5-10% of my monthly profits to charity & good causes." [Tweet this]
Alex has been so motivated by this outward focus that his profits themselves have doubled in the last 6 months.
“In a very indirect way, the motivation to give more towards causes I believe in has actually paid back for itself,” Alex says.
You don’t have to necessarily give your profits to charity to keep your passion alive. Any activity your business does to stay outward-focused will help you and your employees stay passionate, whether it’s allowing employees to volunteer on the clock a few times a year, donating some of your products or services to nonprofits, or simply raising awareness about a good cause.
3. Delight Your Customers...And Yourself
Entrepreneur AJ Hughes founded her company, Escape Room Tucson, because she wanted to create a new kind of positive social interaction — a real need in this era of interaction through social media and texting
“Escape Room Tucson, located in Tucson, Arizona is a fun and real-life immersive game,” AJ explains. “You're in a themed room using elements of the room to solve puzzles, find clues, and escape within 60 minutes. It fosters teamwork, communication, partnership, out of the box, leadership, planning and positive thinking.”
AJ keeps her passion alive through the constant challenges of meeting customers’ passion for fun.
“We must ensure our customers are filled with excitement, keeping them engaged and leaving with a smile, even if they didn't escape,” she says. “Every time we hear our customers laughing, we obtain the reward for the passion we put into this business and it makes us strive harder.”
"Every time we hear our customers laughing, we’re rewarded for our passion." [Tweet this]
Keeping your focus on the customers is a great way to stay outward-focused, especially if you measure success in terms of something truly positive, like delight. If your business makes people happy every single day, it’s hard to imagine a crisis of passion robbing you of your own delight in entrepreneurship.
4. Think of Your Business as a Living Thing
“We do our best to avoid getting into a rut by looking at our business as a living, breathing entity,” says Chris Huntley of Huntley Wealth and Insurance Services.
"We avoid getting into a rut by looking at our business as a living, breathing entity." [Tweet this]
Chris shared his team’s secrets for continued growth:
“1. Look Past Obstacles:
It's easy to see limitations, no matter what you do. We choose to see past the obstacles that people put up and have succeeded in making life insurance a topic our clients don't dread discussing. Not bad considering over 1/3 of people don't buy life insurance because they don't want to talk about death!
2. Push the Envelope:
Growth may take you in unexpected directions. When you open up your mind, paths you never thought were possible become visible.
3. Define Your Goals:
Nail down what it is that makes you special - what you offer of value to the world.
4. Look at the Big Picture:
Every business has wins and every business has losses. The ones that concentrate on the daily and weekly ups and downs get lost in minutia. When your team sustains a loss, review the big picture and get back on track. Mourning small losses will kill moral and keep you from moving forward.
5. Make Time for Fun, Appreciation, and Health:
Work hard and play hard is my motto. A burned out team, simply does not deliver. I strongly believe a fit workforce is a productive workforce. Taking care of you is important.”
Don’t get caught in the all-too-prevalent trap of getting tied up in the day-to-day. Just as healthy human beings have to make choices with the big picture in mind, healthy businesses are always looking to the future, rather than the past.
5. Create Systems and Processes
Sharon Delay, a career and human resource coach for micro- and small businesses, admits that she naturally isn’t much of a delegator. But she has learned the importance of creating an empowered team that is supported by strong systems and processes.
“The best thing I did for myself, my team, and my business growth was to process as much of it as I could,” Sharon explains. “This has allowed us all to be more efficient and focus on hot issues when they arise.”
"The best thing I did for my business was to process as much of it as I could." [Tweet this]
This has been especially effective in Boldy Go’s recruiting and employee training strategy. Simply by documenting, testing, and revising the entire process, anyone in the company is able to lend an assist in a crisis, even if the problem is well outside the scope of their regular job description.
Sharon explains the benefits this has brought her company, saying, “This not only keeps us going if we are down one person, it gives development opportunities for less experienced people so they can learn and grow.”
This allows the company to work on important tasks even if one employee is suddenly off sick. As she puts it, her team isn’t “singularly sourced on tasks.” Because those well-documented systems and processes are in place, it’s easy for someone else to take up the slack.
“When I do this, it keeps things going along and ensures that business continues to operate regardless of whether one of us is not available,” she summed up.
It’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day and lose the big picture (and your passion) when you’re trying to do everything yourself. Many small business owners looking to hire their first employees say, “I wish I could just clone myself.”
The way to make that happen is to hire to the culture you want, set clear values in your organization, and put processes in place that allow them to meet your expectations. Only then will you start to feel the freedom to return to what makes you really passionate in your business.