I learned how to make soap in 1992. As if that addiction was not enough, I added lotions, creams and other body care products. By 1993, I knew how to make a rudimentary version of just about every cosmetic in existence. By 1994, I had opened a retail store part-time. By 1995, I had quit my job to run the store full-time. Between 1996 and 2000, in addition to fulfilling a dream of teaching soapmaking classes in South Africa, I took my passion to the next level and launched the Indie Beauty Network.
Through the years, I have enjoyed many highs and lows. But through it all, even when I was so tired I didn't think I could publish another newsletter or make another phone call, I have been continuously fueled by a passion to be connected to artisan-crafted products, and more importantly, to people who make them. It's a passion, but it's also a business. I think there are at least three things all small business owners must do to make sure that their business is not lost in their passion:
Keep a record of your passion. As you can see from the video, brochures, labels, notes, and photographs document the depth of my involvement in my field through the years. Each bit of documentation is evidence of my long-term commitment to serve small scale beauty companies.
Documentation of your passion is indisputable evidence of your journey. It bolsters your credibility, strengthens your brand, and fixes your platform. It also comes in especially handy on days when you don't feel the passion, but have to run the business anyway.
Your records display your story for all to see, and your story builds the trust you need to be profitable over the long haul. Keep records of the story of your passion, and tell your story every chance you get.
Put on your business hat. The care and feeding of your passion is necessary, but without the tenacious application of solid business principles, you may find yourself tending to your passion to the detriment of your business.
Every passion is different. Every business is different. But some things are the same no matter how you slice it. Spend cautiously. Collaborate often. Control the use of credit. Embrace technology. Plan well.
Incorporating timeless principles such as these will serve you and your business well for a lifetime and beyond.
For free advice from experts in every aspect of business planning and management, check out all of my Indie Business Radio Shows. The archives are brimming with instructions, tips, and resources. A great show to start with on the business planning front is my interview with Tim Berry, author of The Plan-as-You-Go Business Plan (affiliate link). You can stream it right from your desktop or download it as an MP3!
Plan, and be flexible. Plan your business, and plan it well. But even as you plan, and as you execute your plan, remain flexible. Business changes fast these days. Markets are very fluid. What was popular yesterday is old and dead today.
Because the deck is constantly being re-shuffled, you must become good at sniffing the wind. You have to anticipate what's coming next, so you can plan for what's coming next, so you can act on what's coming next — before it actually comes.
While the core platform of your business should be solid and unshakable, always be on high alert to make adjustments called for at the drop of a hat by the your customers, clients, competitors, regulators, the economy, and other market forces.
Passion is a wonderful thing. Without it, many businesses would cease to exist. When you combine heartfelt passion with an unshakable determination to create a lasting business legacy, magic happens.
Question: What records do you have of the evolution of your passion? How do you successfully integrate the passion side of your business with the business side? Please share in the comments section below!