Why one small business is hiring – and another is firing.

Two clients.  Each runs a small company.  One is hiring and the other is firing. What’s the difference?

Both are in multi-billion dollar markets.  Neither can blame the recession because each only needs a fraction of a percent of an enormous market to double or triple in size.  So it’s not the economy.

As an outside consultant to both these owners I see the difference and it’s simple: Passion.

The owner of the growing company is passionate about what he’s doing.  He loves it and loves helping his customers.

The other owner wants to make money. He doesn’t have any special fondness for his products or customers and is guided by what he believes will earn the company more money.

Interesting, isn’t it, that he’s the one hurting and laying people off?

Several years ago another client asked if I thought it was important that he have passion for what he was doing.  “Umm, yes.  Absolutely!” He confessed that although he enjoyed his job, he wasn’t particularly passionate about it.

The company wasn’t doing so well then and things haven’t improved much. They continue along from one crises to the next, with just enough successes to keep them alive.  Market value is lower than ever.

I once served as chairman of the board for a non-profit. When I joined I was enthusiastic and passionate.  But I soon discovered things I had not known before joining the board and this new awareness completely sapped my passion.  So I resigned.

If you lead a company that you aren’t passionate about, either get passionate about it fast (real, sustained passion) or get out – fast.  You owe it to the shareholders.  You owe it to the employees.  But most of all, you owe it to yourself.  Why spend your life in a role that doesn’t thrill you?

Long before Ronald Reagan was president of the United States, when he was climbing the ladder of Hollywood celebrity, he wrote the following:

“Lots of kids write and ask my advice about how to make their mark in an indifferent world… So what I’d like to tell ‘em is this: Look, you must love what you are doing. You must think what you are doing is important because if it’s important to you, you can bet your last ducat that other people will think so, too…”

What can you do if you’re stuck in a business you don’t have the passion for?

It will depend on why you don’ t have passion, of course.  Common reasons include:

– Values: You don’t believe in what you’re doing.  It’s not consistent with that you believe is important.

– Confused: You don’t know what you want to do.  You don’t know what you’re passionate about.

– Pessimism and / or Disillusionment: You simply don’t see how this business will give you what you want.  You continue because you don’t see a better option.  You thought things would develop faster.

Let’s start with these.

1.  Values: In some ways this is the easiest. In other ways, this is the hardest.

It’s easiest because you know it’s time to move on.  It’s hardest because you’re probably need to leave a comfortable situation.

What you need most here is (1) an unambiguous decision to move on and (2) personal courage and the support of your loved ones and close friends.

2. Confused: If you don’t know what you’re passionate about, here are a few suggestions:

– Often people who say they don’t know what they are passionate about, really do know WHAT they’d LOVE to do.  They just don’t see HOW they could make it happen.

Other times, they really don’t know WHAT it would be.

If your situation is the former, then keep your goal clearly in mind and your eyes open for omens, ideas and opportunities to take small steps in that direction. Take them.

If the latter, commit to do what’s in front of you today with excellence. People who don’t see a direction often drift.  This is a killer because they feel unproductive.

When you do what’s in front of you as well as you can do it – TODAY – you feel good about yourself.  And the better you feel, the more opportunities will begin to prevent themselves.  Try it if you doubt me.

3. Pessimism and / or Disillusionment: This may have a variety of symptoms.  But my bold claim is that the root here is that you’re too worried about yourself.

Focus your mind on your customer, on others you can help, on ways you can make a positive impact and things will soon fall into place for you as well.

Are you stuck in a business without the passion?  Did you successfully move out of one?  Do you have a different view on the subject?

Chime in below.

About The Author

Dov Gordon

Dov Gordon helps consultants and coaches get clients - consistently.