How to succeed when passion and determination just aren’t enough
“Keep going… try again… don’t give up”— these are messages often given out by personal development experts. They are words I certainly use to motivate my micro-business clients when they experience a setback and their morale has taken a dive.
They all say that to achieve success, you must never give up.
Sadly, I see a lot of people giving up way too soon with their newish business, sometimes even before they’ve tried everything in their power to achieve the goal they had set their heart on.
The challenge of running a young business
One of the challenges for many recent start-up owners is the time it can take to make a business profitable if it hasn’t failed in the first two years, that is. Sadly, this seems to happen to 50% of all small businesses — a worryingly high figure in my book.
Naturally, it can be really tough to keep going when facing challenge after challenge. Some setbacks are not easy to bounce back from — I know, I’ve had my own share over the years!
But if you manage to keep going against all the odds (and think that’s what you should do), how do you know that your determination isn’t just following a lovely pipe dream, that keeping going won’t turn to heart-ache and disappointment rather than success?
Confidence can be deceptive
In my experience, it can sometimes be hard for someone who works alone to see the difference between keeping going because they’re feeling passionate and confident, and keeping going because their passion is blinding them.
Sadly, once you suffer from tunnel vision it can be very difficult, if not impossible, to look at the situation objectively.
People with tunnel vision may ignore the warning signs such as the gaps in their research, knowledge and expertise, or the lack of interest (or money) from potential customers. They may even feel confident that a breakthrough is just around the corner.
Are there any easy ways to assess your situation?
From a commercial perspective, success and failure are often measurable in financial terms i.e. profit and loss. For many entrepreneurs, these are the markers of why a venture may or may not be worth pursuing. If you continue to make a loss and just can’t put it right, then telling the business owner not to give up will not be the right advice.
But if you’re a passionate value-driven business owner who wants to change the world with their idea, success may mean far more than money. Some people are driven to keep going because they want to make a difference in the world.
Monetising your passion is possible, as long as you recognise the boundary between funding an expensive hobby and an investment into an idea that will pay off. Many successful entrepreneurs — Richard Branson, for example — risk a lot to achieve success that often starts with a passion for a daring or innovative idea. But he is also a good example of someone who has abandoned a number of significant business projects because he knows when it’s time to stop, to give up.
Maybe for you it is a little harder to determine when you cross that fine line between failure and success. It’s particularly difficult if your success has now become about something else, something you value deeply, something intangible that may have become part of your search for personal fulfillment.
Over the years I’ve met several passionate and confident women who were so focused on their idea that they refused to acknowledge all the warning signs until their partners presented them with an ultimatum! This may be a bit extreme, but it demonstrates that it isn’t always easy to see for yourself when your passion has turned into an obsession!
So what’s a passionate girl to do?
If you don’t want to keep going just on the basis of a hunch that, after all, might be misguiding you, then your best option is to try and establish some clarity about the chances your dream has of turning into reality.
Why not ask yourself a few questions?
- Who can I learn from who has achieved something similar to what I want to do?
- Who can I trust to support me so I’m not left on my own when making important decisions?
- What (or how much) am I willing to risk for my passion?
- What will I do if I can’t rely on savings or other funding any more?
Also the following ‘markers’ might be worth setting early on:
- What are the tell-tale or warning signs (that are meaningful to me)? What will show me that I might be wasting my time?
- What will be my own personal cut-off point?
- What are the signs or milestones that indicate I’m on the right track?
If you are unsure of your milestones, you could try to break your goal into lots of smaller ones that are easy to achieve. Then, each time you tick one off, you will find yourself closer to achieving your dream!
About Ute Wieczorek-King:
Ute is a UK-based German business mentor who inspires passionate midlife women to achieve business success by simplifying and staying focused on what really matters.