Passion is an unbelievable thing.Â It's often what motivates me to get up in the morning, and it definitely what fuels me to be exceptional at my job. You need passion to start something new, to go above and beyond, or even to approach something in a completely original way.Â Passion is what differentiates a "Financial Analyst II" at Fidelity from Ryan Smith, the founder of TimeOff (a young innovator who works 9-5 to pay rent and 5 to 9 because he is an entrepreneur).
However, as great as passion is and as far as it can take you…you have to be careful.Â Sometimes this energy and excitement can be blinding.Â Some people are so tremendously passionate, yet lack the ability to take ownership and really get things done.Â At times this can even result in overlooking an obstacle so simple, and right in front of you.Â Coming from someone who is so passionate that he earned the title of "Ambassador of Buzz"; I wanted to share a few insights and common mistakes I have seen entrepreneurs make when trying to take their idea and grow it into a business:
1. Trying to be interesting, and not imperative
I wish I could take credit for this one, but I was lucky enough to learn this lesson from Michael Troiano, a brand/advertising expert here in Boston.Â People tend to think that because their ideas are interesting they will sell — but that is often not the case.Â Maybe 10 years ago interesting would have been enough, but consumers aren't buying just to buy anymore.Â You now need to be imperative.Â Your end user might be more worried about if they are going to make payroll next week, or how they are going to pay their rent.Â Make your value added proposition short, clear, and jump out at them.Â And if all else fails remember these wise words from Troiano:
"Startups fail because the dog won't eat the dog food".
2. Hiring the best technical fit
Seth Godin makes a really interesting point in his new book "LinchPin", that I think really helps drive this idea home
"In a factory, doing a job that's not yours is dangerous.Â Now, if you're a linchpin, doing a job that's not getting done is essential".
A linchpin is a single person or thing that is critical to the whole; a central source of stability and security.Â As you grow your company you will need to hire people who can help you accomplish your goals.Â It's not always hard to find someone who is a technical fit for the job…but remember you are an entrepreneur not a factory owner. Make sure that your new hires are not only people you like working with, but people who understand and see the same vision that you see.Â Make sure they identify with your core purpose.Â Surround yourself with linchpins and they will find a way to make your business successful.
3. Waiting until things are "perfect" before you launch
We now live in a world where "failing fast" is essential.Â By waiting to grow your idea into a business and making sure every little thing is perfect, all you are doing is giving the rest of the world more of an opportunity to create something similar.Â Some of the best advice I've ever been given was, "Just go out and do something…anything".Â You might fail.Â I am not saying you are sure to succeed; however, what I can guarantee is that you will learn something.Â You never know, what you end up learning might be even more valuable than the idea you started with.Â But if you never got out there and started something, you would still be sitting there just talking….and what fun is that?
What mistakes have you made?Â What lessons have you learned along the way that made you who you are today?
Jonathan Kay is the Ambassador of Buzz at Grasshopper Group. Read more about Jonathan here.