Pregnant women often struggle to swallow, and keep down the “horse pill” prenatal vitamins. This seemed crazy to me and I wanted to do something about it. I had fallen in love with a problem.
I always had a passion for women’s issues, so this problem fit well into my DNA. Most small business owners launch their business because they are fueled by passion. When we launched NutraBella, passion drove 90 percent of what I did every day.
But I had no idea what a tough fight it would be. The daily grind of starting and running a business chipped away at our passion, like an ice pick to an ice block. I didn’t notice it until it felt almost too late.
In hindsight, I would have nurtured my passion more carefully if I had known what was ahead. Here are three ideas to keep your entrepreneurial flame burning:
1. Fuel your passion daily.
The top question I get from experienced small business owners is “How do I get my passion back?” Like any flame, passion must be cared for and managed to ensure it stays lit.
Every day, before you do anything, remind yourself why you started your business. This is important for you to stay motivated and engaged, and it is important for your business’ potential. Your passion inspires you and everyone around you. It dictates why you do what you do and why your business exists.
Entrepreneur Simon Sinek describes the why as “a purpose, cause or believe.” Why do you get out of bed in the morning? According to Sinek, “people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.” Passion is your why and it will differentiate you from others. Without it, you put your business at risk. Fuel your “why” early and often, first thing.
2. Fall in love with a problem.
I watched a friend cry because she couldn’t keep her prenatal vitamins down. She thought she was a bad mother and she hadn’t given birth yet! At that moment, when I wanted to take that pain away, I fell in love with the “horse pill” problem.
When we launched Bellybar, women overwhelmingly told us in focus groups that they wanted a nutrition bar to replace their prenatal vitamins. However, we soon learned that their behavior didn’t match what they said they would do. They were often eating the bars in addition to their prenatal vitamins.
Having fallen in love with changing the way women get their vitamins, we pivoted and launched a chewable vitamin. Then, we reformulated the bars to be a true boost to the vitamin. By falling in love with the problem, we were able to shift our focus when our solution wasn’t working.
Many businesses fail because the entrepreneur falls in love with their favorite solution. Don’t let that happen to you. Make sure your passion is for solving the problem, not for your solution.
3. Don’t let the business of running a business get in the way.
As business owners, we have to run the business. Slowly, the nitty gritty work started to replace the fun. Over the years, hurdles came up -- suppliers were late in delivering, customers were slow to pay, lawyers came knocking.
Figure out which part of the business fuels your passion and which nicks away at it. Then, find someone to take over as many of the tasks that nick away your passion so you can focus on it. You may not be able to get rid of all of the gritty work, but you can control the balance. Use tools to make processes more efficient, hire team members who love to do what you hate and, most importantly, take time for you to re-energize.
Small business owners are the most passionate people I’ve met. Many of us identify with the 1997 Apple Think Different ad: “While some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to change the world are the ones who do.” Take care of your passion while you change the world with your business. I’ll be cheering for you!