Exhibiting passion is the first and probably most important factor that a potential investor will judge when considering making an investment in you and your company. Passion does not have to involve loud or animated enthusiasm, but it does require intense commitment and a laser beam focus on success. Think of your business as a gasoline-powered generator; a generator of value through revenue, jobs, and customers. Although there are many moving parts that must all work together, you provide the most important part: The fuel that starts it and keeps it running. The fuel is your passion. You must feel it, live it, and express it. It has to be real as well. There should be no doubt in anyone’s mind that you are “all in”. Everyone associated with the business - employers, suppliers, partners, and early customers - must see your passion and believe in you. It is especially true for potential investors. If they even get a hint that this is not the case, no matter how great your idea is, they will probably walk away. Quite simply, the lack of passion is a non-starter.
Everyone understands that a new company will face many difficult situations. They need to be lead by a passionate, resilient leader that not only says "follow me" but actually takes the lead. If passion is the fuel then compassion is the oil that keeps all of the parts moving together. With the many tasks that are always demanding attention, it is easy to lose site of the people that actually perform those tasks and make it all happen. Carrying the analogy a little further, it is easy to run low on compassion and not even notice the increased friction that is easily masked until it is too late. Outside the engine, customers, partners, and investors may have no idea of the inner friction between parts until a major breakdown occurs. Stop gap measures, adding oil or compassion, may seem like a quick fix but they cannot undo the damage that has already occurred. Checking your engine oil is easy. Every night before you go home ask one question: “Did I take time for people today, and did I say thank you?” Show as much passion for your people as you do for your business.
Over time, some types of fuel lose their effectiveness. The same is true with an entrepreneur’s unbridled passion. It can turn into stubbornness due to the relentless pursuit of success. There is a simple fuel adaptive that can counteract this condition. It is listening. It is easy for a passionate leader to push forward, attempting to overcome every obstacle. However, at times, it is important to temper passion with a dose of reality that is readily available by listening to others. The simple act of listening can restore objectivity that may have been lost along the way.
There is no question that the business engine cannot continue to run without passion as its fuel, but the engine requires many other elements all working together. Passion is necessary, but alone it is not sufficient.