By Guest Blogger, Mary Schmidt, Marketing Troubleshooter
Yes, passion is a key ingredient in entrepreneurial success, but it's not the only one. In fact, passion can actually blind us right to the point of failure. ("It'll all work out" is the mantra, so no planning is done or alternatives reviewed...when the bank account has been empty for months.)
You can be passionate about what you do - and hate the nitty-gritty business details. Haven't we all known people that started out all afire, proud to have their very own bakery/plumbing company/software firm/consulting group...only to see them flare up and burn out when faced with things like bookkeeping or managing employees.
Passion can also prolong the agony when dealing with vendors and employees. "He means well" "She tries so hard" "She really believes in the mission." Well, that's great, but can he or she actually do the job? We keep giving the passionate ones just one more chance.
The best of intentions may never translate into actual work; and if they do, the work may well be substandard. Trying and believing ain't the same as results. I see a lot of this problem when working with nonprofits (as both a consultant and volunteer.) Someone has made mistakes that in the for profit world would result in being walked out by security...and she keeps getting yet another chance, because "we wouldn't want to hurt her feelings, and she tries so hard." So, her feelings are saved - but what about those of the clients or members of the nonprofit. Gee, too bad. We didn't get that funding, so we'll have to cut back on services. Ultimately this is a disservice to everyone, including the passionate incompetent.
We women tend to be the biggest forgivers, to our and others' detriment at times. When I worked in Big, Bad Corporate America I was once - with two other women - reviewing sales force test results, results that meant some people would have to go. We spent literally hours agonizing over the affect of our decisions, trying to come up alternatives, and generally talking it to death. In reality, the results were there in black and white - no ambiguity, and we didn't have any leeway, given corporate policy. Yet,there we were, trying to save people who "tried so hard." We stopped when I finally said, "You know, if we were men, we wouldn't have been doing this."
So, by all means be passionate...follow your passion...look for passion in others...but keep reality in sight (and do some boring ol' "what if" planning.)