Small business owners and entrepreneurs often talk about their work as if it’s a labor of love. Of course, every small business owner wants to make a profit and have a successful business, but the success of a small business is measurable in ways that don’t always show up on the balance sheet. Many entrepreneurs go into business because they have a specific vision for how they want to be of service – they see a problem or inefficiency or a cause of frustration in the market, and they’re determined to “fix it” and build something better. Other entrepreneurs start a business out of a sense of creative fulfillment – they’re really good at making or building or designing a certain product, or they love to create a welcoming atmosphere or a one-of-a-kind customer service experience.
Entrepreneurs are not like “normal” people – and that’s OK! The same personality traits that make it hard to be satisfied at a traditional corporate job – the restlessness, the impatience for action, the desire to spend your life doing only what you do best and care about the most – are also some of the characteristics that make entrepreneurs successful.
Being a small business owner is a wonderful way to live, because at its best, running your own business enables you to blend your work and your life into one overarching sense of vision and purpose. The work can be hard and obsessive, the hours can be long and exhausting, but the sense of freedom, passion, and possibility is unlimited – and well worth it. As consultant and business coach Alan Weiss once said, when you’re an entrepreneur, “You don’t have a personal life and a professional life. You have a life, period. Get good at it.”
We talked with a few small business owners about what “passion” means to them, and why it’s important to their success.
Small Business Advice: What Does Passion Mean to You
Kristy Short, RootWorks
Kristy Short is the CMO of RootWorks, a consulting firm based in Bloomington, Indiana that provides marketing, strategic planning, and coaching for accounting firms, with the vision of “Empowering Bean Counters to be Better Entrepreneurs.” Kristy says that her company’s sense of passion is centered on helping their clients achieve a more successful business and a more peaceful way of life.
“Without passion, there would be no entrepreneurs. But without a vision, there would be no passion,” says Kristy. “At the very core of the entrepreneurial spirit is the vision that drives you to produce the highest quality products and services. For my company, our vision is about helping to solve pain points for clients in a way that ultimately allows them to live the life they desire. At RootWorks, we offer products and services that help accounting professionals operate their firms at peak efficiency and profitability, but our vision goes much deeper than our clients’ business success. We are gunning for a better life for our clients – one where balancing personal life and work comes easy… one where making the desired choices every day becomes commonplace. We measure our success not just in terms of numbers, but by whether or not our clients feel free enough to choose to have coffee with the family in the morning instead of grabbing the to-go mug, or when they feel comfortable choosing to attend of their kids’ games instead of staying late at the office. Our team is always searching for new ways to support our vision, and we don’t deviate from it. Our vision is what drives our passion as entrepreneurs.”
Follow RootWorks on Twitter at @Rootworks or connect on LinkedIn.
Gregg Weisstein, BloomNation
BloomNation is an online flower delivery service that enables people throughout the U.S. to order unique bouquets and floral arrangements from local floral designers and artisans. Unlike most of the online flower delivery sites that offer the same bouquets from a limited menu, BloomNation connects customers with top floral designers in their local area to get the most beautiful, impressive flower bouquets imaginable.
“Passion is the fuel that drives every entrepreneur,” says Gregg Weisstein, COO of BloomNation. “The risks are great and the rewards are unknown. It is the passion that keeps you going during the times where nothing seems to go your way.”
See some of the latest lovely creations from BloomNation’s community of floral designers on Twitter at @BloomNation or on Facebook.
Matt Sconce, Movie Heroes
The traditional movie theater business model has been under pressure in recent years as more people have turned to online streaming to watch the latest Hollywood hits. This has caused many small independent movie theaters to close. Matt Sconce, a filmmaker and movie buff, helped create a new “Netflix model” for movie theaters. His company, Movie Heroes, partners with local independent movie theaters to offer a flat monthly subscription fee that allows moviegoers to watch unlimited movies on the big screen. The theaters get a stable source of revenue, consumers get to watch more movies, and with the Movie Heroes membership model, local movie theaters are becoming busy hubs of fun, culture, and economic activity once again!
“I think that passion is absolutely necessary for an entrepreneur to succeed. It is the force that drives us to push through our perceived limits, to stay up all hours of the night, to keep getting up again and again after failures,” says Matt. “It must be the deep rooted internal need to succeed at your endeavor. This can be for many reasons. It can be an overarching sense of changing the world, or the dream of providing for your family or others. Whatever the passion an entrepreneur feels, it must drive them. I am passionate about Movie Heroes because it is getting more people to watch movies. I believe narrative film can change the way people see themselves, others, and the world. The more people that see movies the way they were intended (in the theater), the more people are exposed to this potential for growth. Movie Heroes is giving freedom to the viewer in the form of unlimited movies for an affordable price, while also paving the way for more independent content creation. It is providing income for many employees and families and is something I can truly feel passion about.”
Follow the adventures of Movie Heroes on Twitter at @MovieHeroes and on Facebook.
Sandy Patangay, Crème Delicious
Crème-Delicious is a highly unique dessert bakery based in New York City that was founded by Sandy Patangay, a longtime henna artist who decided to use her artwork as the inspiration for a new line of colorful, delicious cakes. After working as a henna artist for 25 years, Sandy was curious to try her hand at cake design, with patterns and colors inspired by the painstakingly detailed imagery she used as a henna artist. High-end event planners in New York soon started serving her cakes, and her work was featured on Martha Stewart Weddings before she had even officially opened for business.
“Passion to an entrepreneur means a strong drive to change an idea or a method into a profitable venture. Passion in business must go hand in hand with profitability to be a successful entrepreneur,” Sandy says. “I take pride in taking an ancient art form, which was limited only to women in the Middle East and South Asia, and transforming the art into a beautiful edible artistry that is fit for all occasions and enjoyed by people of all ages, genders, and cultures.”
See Sandy Patangay’s beautiful cake designs on Twitter at @CremeDelicious and on Facebook.
Denise Beauregard, Urban Intima
Urban Intima is a fashion retailer that sells jewelry, accessories, and lingerie, with special lines of lingerie and intimate apparel for plus-size women. Even though the vast majority of Americans are not “model thin,” the fashion industry does not reflect this reality; it can be difficult for women in non-skinny sizes to find beautiful lingerie that matches their sensual spirits. Denise Beauregard founded her business with a passion for helping other women like her feel more confident and beautiful.
“Entrepreneurial passion is the obsession with a business idea or product that does not let go and often occupies your mind to the exclusion of everything else,” says Denise. “It replaces romance and often partners in the queue for attention, care, resources, and time. It requires divergent thinking, demands to be first, and requires that the work be done all day, every day without hesitation or fail. What makes me passionate about my business to the exclusion of everything else is, first of all, the products I sell – I am my own best customer and I wanted to offer intimate apparel that is designed for other women like me. I’m also passionate in my belief that the fashion world can and should be doing better for ‘plus size’ women. I also have a firm, independent streak and I’m an active, creative spirit. I am a firm believer that the best company owners were once bad employees that made their boss pray daily and utter ‘Jesus help me!’ by the hour.”
Shawn Sadowski, Entrepreneur in Residence at Cogswell Polytechnical College
Shawn Sadowski is a serial entrepreneur who lives and breathes the passion of building a business – to the point that he rode a bike across the United States to interview 100 entrepreneurs and document their stories. Co-founder and CEO of My New Enterprise, a company that helps entrepreneurs and business builders achieve success, Shawn is also serving in a unique new role as “Entrepreneur in Residence” at Cogswell Polytechnical College, where he helped design the curriculum for the school’s new immersive Master’s degree program in Entrepreneurship and Innovation.
“I feel strongly that passion plays a very important part of what we do in our careers
and in our lives. Having been an entrepreneur in my own career, I couldn’t have accomplished what I have done without a certain level of craziness,” says Shawn. “Having a passion for doing inventive, creative, and innovative things that other people aren’t doing is a critical element for success in being an entrepreneur.”
Shawn said that entrepreneurs should try to connect their sense of passion to their larger sense of vision for what they want their life and work to be about.
“You have to ask yourself, ‘How can I make a living AND do something that makes a difference to my own life, to my community, and possibly to my country and the world? How can I make an impact on others?’” Shawn says. “Entrepreneurs need to think about creating for themselves an alternative career path – they need to break the mold and swim against the stream. There are opportunities galore out there to create something new and make a living by contributing to the universe around you as well.”
Connect with Shawn Sadowski on LinkedIn.