I had a conversation last week with a woman who is a partner in a SME and during our chat she commented on her relationship with her business saying “This is just something I do to earn the money I need to do the things that I’m interested in”.  She didn’t recognise how signficant this comment was, against a backdrop of her company’s disappointing performance, but worse still, she seemed to think that this was a normal kind of relationship to have with your business.  It makes me wonder how many other businesses out there are failing because their management lack passion.

The thing is that while organisations like this may have managed to scrape by for the last twenty years, in the last two the rules have completely changed.  A business, wherever it is and whatever it does, that has ambled on with no real dynamic, for however many years, just isn’t going to survive in the new business environment – its that simple!  My argument has always been that success is a product of passion, which is why I have always emphasised the importance of harnessing internal marketing to build brand communities where all the stakeholders share the passion and are committed to delivering the brand’s promise.  This is the approach that has driven organisations like Southwest Airlines, Harley Davidson and others to great heights and it will make the difference between success and failure for many more.

Coincidentally my attention was drawn to a piece by Martyn Drake on B-Net today where he reports on the responses Bill Gates and Warren Buffett gave to questions from students at a CNBC event at Columbia University.  The questions, in essence amounted to “what is the secret to success in business?”  The two were consistent in their advice “Do what you would do if … the money meant nothing to you… You’ll have more fun and be more successful” and “Find a thing that you’re passionate about, and that you’re good at”.

Personally, I don’t know how you get to start a business that doesn’t hold some interest for you.  Neither do I understand how boards of large organisations appoint managers who aren’t passionate about what they do.  Surely this is a “no-brainer”?  But if you have any doubt about why this is so Martyn sums it up in three advantages that passion for your business brings and I can think of many more.

Michael Weaver
November 18, 2009

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