Keeping the spark alive

Start ups and early stage businesses have a special spark that provides excitement and motivation for everyone.  Often that spark gets lost somewhere along the line to growth and many owner managers long to rekindle it both for themselves and for others in the business.  This topic was the subject of a feature in the Financial Times on 23 June 2012 in which I was delighted to be quoted.  You can read the article at http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/f426b612-b952-11e1-b4d6-00144feabdc0.html#axzz1ykcMl8Oq or, if you’re not a subscriber, here’s my original version.

Virtually every entrepreneur brims with enthusiasm when they embark on their venture and that enthusiasm rubs off on other people and creates a special buzz in the business. A few years down the line, as you experience the inevitable ups and downs of starting and growing a business, that passion can start to ebb away.  And so, the business loses that special spark.

One of the most common triggers for the loss of passion is that many entrepreneurs find themselves doing things that they don’t really like. Many entrepreneurs go it alone because they have a particular talent which customers are prepared to pay them for.  That talent becomes the basis for the core activity of the business. As the business grows around that core activity, the founder can often find themselves doing everything except the thing that they’re talented at. They’ll spend their time managing people, grappling with the numbers, putting in place systems and processes. And this can soon become a drain on their passion.

A business founder’s influence on their business is fundamental – the business looks and feels the way that it does today, and has the opportunities and challenges it has today, because it belongs to that individual business owner. Everyone else in the business closely observes the founder – their actions, words and mood – and draws inferences from them about the state of the business. So, the most important thing that a business owner needs to do in order to maintain the buzz in the business is to keep their own passion burning.

So, here are a few tips for keeping your passion burning

Tips for rekindling the passion.

Reconnect with your original passion

On a regular basis, take some time to remember and re-connect with what inspired you to start your business in the first place.

Articulate what YOU want

Be absolutely clear about the future you want for yourself – what rewards (financial and other) you want, what role you want to be doing in future, how much of your time and energy you want/are prepared to put into the business, how long you want to be doing it for. With that as your end goal, work backwards to design and build a business which delivers those things to you. The business will then be aligned to your personal goals and you will be motivated, driven, enthusiastic and fully committed. And that will ensure that the buzz is maintained and the business will thrive.

Take a step back

On a regular basis, physically remove yourself from the business and take some time out to reconnect with your passion, review your personal goals and whether the business is still helping you to achieve them, and review the performance of the business objectively.

A little more conversation

Find other people who you can talk to frankly and openly about your business. These may be non-exec directors, business coaches or other business owners.

 

How do you keep your passion burning?

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