Passion for Improvement
March 21, 2008 Leave a comment
Excitement gets you started, but passion keeps you going.
I know that there could be many reasons (or excuses) as to why you may have answered no. You may have challenges with time, money, focus, help, procrastination, or any of the other typical excuses that are used when it comes to talking about why we haven’t done something. Taking into consideration those reasons that are legitimate and the ones that are not, I believe one of the key reasons that you have not yet accomplished some of your goals could be your lack of passion.
You might be reading this and think it foolish of me to write that an entrepreneur or businessperson could lack passion for what they do. I’m not raising the question about your passion for the object of your business affection. I’m raising the question about your passion for your commitment to doing what you do even better.
Reading and listening to the jargon of the business world, I see many words that are often overused and misused. One of the most frequently overused and misused words is passion. Many people think that passion is just having excitement or a strong emotional connection to something. However, having a true passion for something is much bigger than just those two things.
Passion not only helps you to determine what ideas to say “yes” to, but it also helps you determine what ideas to say “no” to. In business it’s easy to find many concepts and ideas about which to get excited. However, not all of those things would you – nor should you – be willing to invest the time, money, and energy to see them through to their completion or fulfillment. For the things that you would say yes to, real passion transfers excitement and emotion into action.
One of the things that passion should help you say yes to is continuous improvement of yourself and your business. Passion for continuous improvement means never being satisfied with what’s already been accomplished. It means waking up every day asking yourself the question, “how can I be better today?” It means that “good” is not good enough. It means looking in every nook, corner, and crevice of your business for ideas, fixes or tweaks that will help you to lower your operating costs, upgrade your products, or enhance your services.
While most entrepreneurs probably would agree with me that continuous improvement is important, many haven’t yet made the commitment to it (or maybe they think they have even though they haven’t). One reason that I say this is because of the failure rate of small businesses. Based on my personal interactions with small businesses, this failure rate is somtimes driven by the owners’ unwillingness or slowfulness to improve their products or services. Another factor is that they are too busy working “in” the business to work “on” the business, which would limit them from being able to see their operations from a broader, strategic perspective.
To have an effective continuous improvement effort, entrepreneurs must shift their focus to working on the business. Some key areas that you should focus on include:
- Product/Service differentiation: Becoming better, faster, or cheaper than your competitors.
- Customer service: Exceeding customer expectations cost effectively.
- Marketing: Attracting, capturing, and retaining new customers.
- Operations: Streamlining your processes and increasing your productivity, allowing you to handle more customers or orders with the same or fewer resources.
Decision making process: Data and fact-driven decision making versus subjective, opinionated or anecdotal decision making.
And here’s two more areas that are often over looked when it comes to continuous improvement, but should be top priorities as it relates to their critical importance to a business:
Employees: Creating an attractive, engaging, fun, challenging, and safe-to-fail work environment.
Personal development: Utilizing structured and informal means to facilitate lifelong learning and skills development.
One of the key benefits of having a passion for improvement is that it can spark profitable innovations in your business. Innovation requires that you be dissatisfied with the status quo. So when you have an intense desire to always get better, your creative abilities can released and directed toward those areas in your business that need to be improved or enhanced, producing financially rewarding solutions for you and your customers.
Leaders are learners and there is always something new that you could learn to help you or your business do something better. No matter how successful you or your business becomes, you must always have a passion for continuous improvement.
Paul Wilson, Jr.