While I am as excited as ever about the rise in the number of American entrepreneurs, I am concerned that too many are starting businesses without knowing what they're getting into. They run on adrenaline for a while, and many even have some cash saved up. But eventually, the creative high gives way to the reality that while making a profit doing what you love includes having fun, it's also about putting (boring) systems in place that make doing what you love profitable.
In other words, you have to ask the question, “Should I have a business?”, and not just “Can I have a business?” Recently, I interviewed John Bradberry, author of 6 Secrets to Startup Success: How to Turn Your Entrepreneurial Passion into a Thriving Business (affiliate link). John is the founder and CEO of Ready Founder, where he helps business owners go from passionate to prepared. To get a real flavor for what John shared, I strongly urge you to listen to the entire 30-minute podcast by scrolling to the bottom of this post, turning up your volume and clicking the gray arrow. You can also download it to your desktop or mobile device so you can enjoy it later. If you prefer to read, here are some of the high points of what John shared about avoiding what I call, “the passion pit.” I included time stamps to make it easy for you o a particular point.
- Avoid the “passion pit” (3:45). While entrepreneurial passion is critical, it often gets in the way of success. When you become emotionally attached to, or fall in love with, your venture, you can fall prey to emotions and biases that lead to behaviors that cause you to underestimate what is needed to get a business off the ground. John says that the “just do it” mindset, without planning and preparation, set many up for failure.
- Discipline your passion (6:40). John points to three universal fundamentals that are inherent in the process of running a successful business. First, be honest with yourself, identifying your strengths and your weaknesses. Second, “No market, no business,” so be careful not to create a product in search of a market. While you can experiment yourself to success (love this!), be sure to shape your business form the outside in and not the other way around. In other words, do what you love, but don't fall in love with what you do. Thirdly, make the numbers work. In other words, make sure you can sell what you offer in a way that allows you to make enough margin, over time, to generate the profit your business needs to survive.
- Know your risk profile (23:48). Evaluate how much risk you (and your family) are willing to live with. Answer the question: “What will my life look like if my business idea does not work out?” Answer honestly, and be ready to live with the outcome, good or bad.
Oh, and be sure to enjoy the part of our conversation where John talked about “founder readiness,” or taking an honest look at the situational factors, especially family, that will affect your success as an entrepreneur. (8:55).
About John Bradberry
John is the founder and CEO of Ready Founder, where helps business owners go from passionate to prepared. John earned a master’s degree in psychology from the University of Richmond, where he was honored as the Psychology Department's Outstanding Graduate Student in 1991, and is a 1983 graduate of Davidson College. He has worked with companies like Sun Microsystems, Novartis, Coca-Cola, and Bank of America. Learn more at his website, and follow him on Twitter here.
How to Listen to the Show
This post contains my paraphrases of the information John shared. To hear it from the horse's mouth yourself, listen to the entire 30-minute show using one of these options:
- Download it on iTunes. (It usually takes a day or two for iTunes to feed the show there.)
- Click on the arrow at the bottom of this post to listen now!
- Because I have not had a chance to load all of my shows to this blog, you can listen to hundreds of interviews from 2005 to 2010, each one as relevant today as it was when I recorded it, at my Indie Business Radio site.
Question: How do you avoid “the passion pit?” What do you think of John's suggestions?