You remember your startup days fondly. The excitement you had for your new company bubbled over into every aspect of your life. You designed, sold, marketed and managed with a fervor that lit up your very soul. To say you were passionate about your journey into the world of entrepreneurship would be an understatement.
But now, without even realizing it, you've lost that glint in your eye. The sparkle for creating something new has given way to deadlines, staffing issues, the search for capital, trying economic times, and any number of business woes. You find yourself moving in "have to" mode: I have to sign this contract. I have to hire this person. I have to go to work today.
As The Righteous Brothers would say, "You've lost that loving feeling." But before you hang up your entrepreneurial hat, listen to what a few been-there, done-that entrepreneurs have to say about rediscovering the passion. For one entrepreneur, it meant getting back to the daily trenches. For another, losing that entrepreneurial twinkle motivated her to start her next business. And for yet another, it meant buckling down during tough times and finding new sources of inspiration. Each journey is unique, but they all share one common thread: These business owners rode out the ebb and flow of passion for their businesses and made it to the other side, and-dare we say it-they got that loving feeling back.
Coming Back With a Vengeance
Yan Skwara went back to the trenches to regain his passion for Soccer Development of America (SDA). Founded in 1997, the company sells soccer equipment, develops and manages professional and youth soccer in the United States and abroad, and publishes a soccer magazine called 90:00 Minutes. Skwara, 38, was excited about the endeavor until about the third year, when, he says, "we got a little overextended as a company-we needed to meet a cash call." He hooked up with an investor, who eventually took a controlling interest in the company.
With a new management team at the helm, Skwara found himself losing the passion he'd had for the business. "When it's not fun, it's almost not worth showing up," he says. In September 2000, he resigned as president and CEO, though he remained a shareholder in the San Diego company.
After about six months, the new management left, and SDA was in bad shape. As founder and shareholder, Skwara felt compelled to go back and pump some new juice into the faltering company. "I got the original management team back together," he says. "We went all the way back to the one-yard line." That meant revamping the business model to focus on the magazine and giving up the company's interest in one of the professional soccer teams it managed. Skwara regained the controlling interest in the company, which now has $1.8 million in annual estimated sales, and applied some of the lessons he'd learned during his time away from the business.
Skwara spent time evaluating what the company had originally done well and what needed improvement. To keep the passion fires burning, he intends to watch the changing needs of his business closely-and not to let any one aspect overwhelm the core of the venture. "We were going way too fast," he says. "Now we're more conservative." It was even more than passion that motivated Skwara to go back to his business: "It's about passion, pride and loyalty to what you started."