"Are you passionate about your business?"
That can seem like an odd question to some business owners. They don't see themselves as passionate about selling automotive supplies, doing tax returns, or cleaning houses.
These individuals often go on to tell me they do it for money and security; they are in this business because it provides them a living, and they certainly aren't passionate about their work.
Interestingly, businesses owned by these people tend to operate satisfactorily at best, providing adequate customer service sufficient to sustain the business at a modest level. Sound mediocre?
The truth is, the owner's passion goes a long way to determining whether a business will excel, or merely survive.
The automotive supply store owner who is genuinely committed to seeing her customer leave the store feeling great that he has the solution to his carburetor issue is passionate about helping people solve DIY problems with their cars. In turn, her customers are enthusiastic about the service she provides, building the store's positive reputation.
The store owner who isn't passionate sees the customer as just another clunk who doesn't know what he is doing. Even if the customer leaves with the right solution, he is likely frustrated by the owner's bored or even condescending attitude. The store's reputation remains merely adequate, at best.
The accountant who is passionate about ensuring his clients get the best possible tax advice will ask the right probing questions of his clients when they show up to have their tax returns done, making sure that all the relevant information is used. He will also offer suggestions about business and bookkeeping practices that could have favorable tax implications for future years. The client is confident that her accountant has completed the tax return accurately and is sincerely interested in helping her business perform better.
The complacent accountant will take the information provided by the client, check for completeness, request missing pieces, and crank out yet another tax return. Guess which customer raves to her friends about the great service.
The house cleaner who is passionate about his work gets satisfaction from the knowledge that his customers' expectations have been exceeded. He relishes the genuine joy and pride that the customer feels when her home has been cleaned so well. This house cleaner has very low client turnover, a loyal staff base, and a backlog of clients wanting his service.
The house cleaner who sees her business simply as way to make a living struggles to keep both clients and staff, as she continually pushes to find efficiencies (i.e. cut corners) in her engagements.
The examples above are composites based on real business owners I have encountered, both passionate and otherwise. There is a common thread in the passion displayed. It's all about the customers.
All three passionate business owners are truly committed to helping their customers have the best possible service experience. Their passion for great customer service drives business success. Those who cannot find passion in their businesses are doomed to mediocrity.
Now, can you find something to be passionate about in your business? Read this for some other ideas on finding your passion.