Where's the Love?

Know Your Passion Profile

Losing that spark for your business doesn't happen overnight or because of a single event, say experts. It happens as a business owner slowly starts to focus on things other than the core of the business. "It's easy to let external situations take your attention away from what you were there to do to begin with," says Richard Chang, the author of The Passion Plan and The Passion Plan at Work.

The key to keeping that focus for the long haul is to put a bit of your core passion into it every day. "People get so caught up [in] other situations that they never tap into that energy anytime during their day," says Chang. If your passion is design, for example, spend 20 minutes a day with the design team talking about new directions in which you might take your product. Passion-building activities are vital-vital enough to literally plot them into your calendar.

Do things that tie into your core passion-easy enough, right? Not as easy as you might think if you've lost touch with what your core passion is. "Ask yourself 'What am I passionate about?'" says Mark Albion, the author of Making a Life, Making a Living. "It's usually not what you think." You may think you love the boats in your boat store, for example, but you may actually be passionate about working with the public. You really love sales-not sails.

If you're not sure what your core passion is, call in the cavalry. A good outside perspective can give you insight into not only what your true passions are, but also how to find new areas that spark your interest. Enlist close friends, family or colleagues who know you well to help you discover what you really love to do, advises Chang. "Don't ask them to figure out what your passion is," he says. "Ask them to talk about situations where they've seen you the most engaged, the most enthralled, the most excited." This will give you an idea of what the situations have in common.

Hand It Off
In all the "keep passion in your business" advice, one point always seems to ring loud and clear: Entrepreneurs have to delegate some of the boring day-to-day tasks to keep their focus on their core passion-whether it's making widgets, serving customers or planning strategy. And while delegation is part of it, experts say it's not all.

According to Richard Chang, the author of The Passion Plan, one interesting way to delegate duties is to treat it like coaching. "Rather than doing the work you would ultimately be delegating, position yourself [to] be the coach to other people who are doing that work, so you stay involved in it."

If you're passionate about your clothing business, for example, you can tap into your passion by teaching and coaching your employees about fashion and design. That way, they're competent to take over some of those important duties, and you're still learning, teaching and growing-and still engaging your passion.

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This article was originally published in the October 2003 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Where's the Love?.

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