Commitment: passion’s poor relation

“You gotta have PASSION!”

This entrepreneurial chestnut is repeated in every self-help book – generally in a whole chapter reserved for the topic – and at every self-help seminar. I do agree with this. If an entrepreneur is not passionate about their business, the business is even more likely to fail than otherwise.

However, the glamour of these calls for entrepreneurs to be passionate about their businesses leads to a couple of unintended consequences. Firstly, it tends to make entrepreneurs retro-fit their stories to convince themselves that they are indeed passionate about their businesses, rather than examining what it is that they are actually passionate about. And secondly, it leads people to forget about something as important as passion – commitment.

Owning your own business can be likened to being in a marriage. Like meeting the love of your life, opening your own business creates an incredible rush of euphoria. The sheer excitement and newness of everything lets you live with next to no sleep, and you seem to have a heightened awareness of everything around you. No problem seems too big to conquer, and you feel invincible!

But then the euphoria wears off… You become aware that not everything is going according to plan, and those problems you thought you could brush off seem to become massive challenges that you can’t overcome. It is at this point that commitment, rather than passion, comes to the fore.

While passion may be what attracts you to your life partner, commitment is what keeps you together. Commitment is shown in the conscious effort you make to stay together through thick and thin; or in the decisions you make each day to do the things that need to be done, even if they’re boring or difficult.

Similarly, passion is what leads entrepreneurs to take the plunge and open their businesses. Passion is without doubt the spark that ignites an entrepreneur’s business, but commitment is the fuel that keeps the engine turning over for the long haul.

Make no mistake: running your own business is indeed a long haul. Too often, I hear entrepreneurs say, “I get bored easily – it seems like the thrill has gone. Perhaps it’s time to move on to a new challenge…” What this signals to me is a lack of commitment.

Many entrepreneurs find the day-to-day running of their businesses to be a difficult grind. They find it painful, and feel they are being worn down by how hard it is to get everything done. It is at this point that opening another business, or maybe even closing their doors and going back into the job market, looks very tempting. But to these entrepreneurs, I’d like to say: hard is not wrong.

When you find yourself in your darkest moments, doubting your ability to carry on, it’s time to step back and re-evaluate your commitment to your business. Motivational author Mary Anne Radmacher summed up what it means to be committed in the following quote: “Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the little voice at the end of the day that says I’ll try again tomorrow.”

Owning your own business is hard work. The entrepreneurial journey is a tough one. There are setbacks and problems encountered around every corner, which is why resilience is a characteristic common amongst successful entrepreneurs. When you combine your resilience with commitment, and allow your passion to inspire you, the result is one of the hallmarks of successful entrepreneurs: perseverance.