Starting your own business is like jumping on an emotional rollercoaster with the highest of highs and lowest of lows -- all the while, wondering if the ride will come to a screeching halt. Anyone can start a business but it’s infinitely harder to grow and sustain it. When a company faces challenges and falls on hard times (and it always does), it’s your passion and commitment that ultimately get the business through to the other side. If you don’t have a true passion for your business, everyone can sense it: your customer s, team, advisors and investors.
That's why focusing on your mission is of the utmost importance. This will enable you to make faster decisions and help you manage through the rollercoaster ride.
Here are three steps to help transform your passion into a successful business:
Do you know enough? If not, start asking. You have a passion and want to start a business! Do you know enough about the industry? With industry background and know-how, you’ll be ahead of the curve and can hit the ground running -- producing products, building a customer base and forging your company vision.
If you have a great idea, but aren’t familiar enough with the field to get started, use your network, speak with people who’ve started businesses in your industry to help you get up to speed quickly. This is like building an informal advisory board of people who’ve gone through a journey similar to the one you’re embarking upon.
When I started NatureBox with my college buddy, Ken Chen, food was a passion of ours, but we honestly didn’t know much about running a food business. We began networking and discussing our idea with seasoned industry innovators to glean insights and learn strategies, tips and tricks for successfully running a food company. Our big breakthrough came when we attended a food tradeshow and met a few suppliers who were willing to work with us. Until then, we didn’t know how to find manufacturing partners.
Jump in. There’s really no better way to start than diving in head-first. In the beginning, you may not have your exact plan mapped out, and you’ll likely make significant changes to your model. But the benefit of starting a business around a passion is that you know why you’re doing it and can more easily overcome barriers that come up along the way. It’s this deep-rooted drive and enthusiasm that will keep you motivated and engaged with the product you’re selling.
Ken and I held other full-time jobs when we built the first NatureBox website. We used product photos taken on our cell phones. We were testing whether there was a market for people who wanted nutritious snacks delivered to their door and immediately saw opportunity -- more than 100 people signed up in a weekend. Now we had to decide if we were going to send our first orders or simply refund the customers, writing this off as a successful first-run test. This is where taking the plunge, is so important. There really is no better time than now to just go for it.
Surround yourself with others who share your vision. It’s no coincidence that everyone at NatureBox has an interesting story about how food shaped their lives -- whether it’s a personal weight loss journey like myself, food experience from a previous professional career, or a background growing up in an agricultural environment. We hire based on these shared experiences because they help shape the business.
Because you can expect long work hours and hard days in the beginning, personal drive and shared similar values with your colleagues will see you through this time. This enthusiasm translates to a positive customer experience. And that's what will build your business.
Turning your passion into a successful business not only allows you to be profitable while doing something you love, it helps set you up for lasting success. Most importantly, passion is central to making decisions that are in the long-term interest of the customer and the company, which will help you establish sustainability and longevity for your brand.
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