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Passion, Hard Work, and Building Businesses

by David Brock on August 2nd, 2007
I’ve been thinking about this a lot recently. There have been many discussions in various media about passion, work, money and building businesses.

What’s your view about what it takes to start, build, and grow a business?

Some things I am reacting to:

At the recent Dow Jones D conference, Bill Gates and Steve Jobs were asked if making money was what drove them in building their businesses (In both cases, a LOT of Money!). Steve had a very interesting response. He stated that starting a business required a certain amount of insanity. He suggested that sane people would be driven to more reasonable means of making money. The commitment, sacrifices, and desire to overcome any obstacle in building a business had to be fueled by PASSION. He suggested that without this, success, consequenlty money, would be difficult to achieve.

Bill Gate’s response was also good. He said, the thought of the money wan’t in the forefront of his mind. Seeing new thingss, doing what he wanted to do, working with people who are fun, and being at the forefront is what drove him.

(By the way, their interview in the June 2007 Dow Jones D conference was very interesting, worth watching. Download from Itunes or go to http://d5.allthingsd.com/20070531/video-steve-jobs-and-bill-gates-highlight-reel/)

Separately, yesterday on Guy Kawasaki’s blog, Glenn Kelman offered an interesting view called “The Flip Side of Entrepreneurship.” He starts by stating he has been “thinking about how hard, not how easy, it is to build a new company.” He goes on to talk about the realities and insanities required to build a start up. His views echo and amplify those that Steve and Bill cited.

Finally, I think about a conversation I recently had with a colleague that was escaping the “Fortune 10,” to start a consulting company. He sought my experience in building a successful consulting company. I asked him what he wanted to accomplish with his business, and he replied, “make lots and lots of money.” I thought about it and responded that he probably would fail to achieve his goal and never be happy. I reflected on our success and priorities. I said there were 4 key objectives that we had in our business:

  1. Make a difference in the business and personal lives of our clients. We want to have an impact on improving their businesses. We want to impact their careers and lives to help them better achieve their personal goals.
  2. Learn something new. We hope our clients learn from us, but also we learn from our clients. This keep us fresh, it gives us new ideas. It enables us to bring greater value to each of our clients in growing their businesses.
  3. Have fun! We work hard and we play hard. We want to work with people we enjoy and who enjoy us.
  4. and the distant 4th is making money.

In reflecting on our success, I said that if we did the first three things really well, the fourth always followed. As I have watched other organizations, driven purely by money and personal reward, I find they many some success, but it is usually short lived. Making decisions based purely on what you get financially, leads to all sorts of errors that threaten the longevity of the business.

I’m don’t mean to sound naive or not motivated by money, but I tend to view it more as a scorecard than an end.

Perhaps this is a chicken and egg question–I’m not sure.

What are your views. what does it take to build and sustain a growing business?

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