Why passion is not enough for entrepreneurs
Sure, you might get lucky, and the luck might even last a while (I speak from experience) – but you can’t sustain luck.
One of the thing that does sustain success is passion, but I’ve learned an important truth in my 20+ years in IT and it is that passion itself is not enough.
Passion has to be anchored in reality. Your business ideas have to be tested and re-tested to make sure they stand up and remain headed in the right direction. Your most important allies are those who tell you hard stuff, the easy stuff should be known to you already.
This is a lesson I believe every entrepreneur needs to learn. And though some may think this is an obvious observation, applying it in practice is not as common as it seems.
My business partner Pierre Paquette and I are passionate individuals, and we both enjoy a challenge. You could say we are not “hamster wheel” people. Our brains are not wired to do the same thing over and over again. We enjoy taking on challenging problems where we will have an impact and create a real benefit.
The challenge we have given ourselves at RAPA is big: Connecting IT issues and concerns to the business side of an organization, through data, in a way that allows organizations to manage their IT more efficiently and save money.
We are fully invested in working this challenge and we’ve made progress. No one paid us to work on it, we had projects to deliver and customers to keep happy while we took on the problem… and it is hard. We love it.
Passion, but not alone… it is not just an idea we have. It rests on a solid foundation.
Over our years in IT, we all too often saw companies spend huge amounts of money chasing their tails while trying unsuccessfully to connect the IT side of a company to the business side. We’ve worked hard, and continue to work hard, on the solution, while seeking continuous feedback from people we respect. People who have relevant experience and can help bring clarity to what we are doing and why.
In our case, we have key customers, a group of reputable advisors and mentors who give us unfiltered feedback when we ask for it. And we respect their time enough that they haven’t said no yet! It helps us make sure we don’t let our passion take us off course.
Passion is essential: If you don’t truly believe that the idea, product or service you’re working on is going to have some benefit, why are you doing it? Passion cannot operate in a vacuum, it needs to be tied to something real. And the way to do that is to validate the ideas, products and/or services you are passionate about.
Validate them with your customers, validate them with your peers, validate them with mentors and advisers.
Don’t shy away from people who are very likely to shoot your ideas down. Running a business is not about being told platitudes, it’s about getting the hard truth.
Solving hard problems is what business is all about. There will be chasms, not one… many, and passion is the only thing that sees you through.
We rest more easily knowing that not only do we believe in what we are doing, so do other people who we respect and trust.
Susan Odle is chief executive officer at RAPA. She has been in enterprise IT for over two decades, is ITIL V3.5 certified, enjoys anything outdoors with family and music (playing, singing and listening)..