Over the course of Batch's 6+ years, I've had the chance to meet hundreds of entrepreneurs and probably 100 more aspiring entrepreneurs. In fact, each month, Batch hosts Purveyor Pitch Day where artisans and makers get the chance to pitch their products to the Batch team. (Like Shark Tank, but we're way nicer.)
Folks come in, show us what they make, tell us how they started, why they do what they do, share the mechanics of their business (costs, retail pricing, production capability), and then we all chat about if and how their products are a fit for what they do. And in the midst of it all, I get to hear inspiring stories of motivation, ingenuity, and - you guessed it - passion.
Sometimes in these meetings or more often when I travel and speak, budding entrepreneurs ask what advice I have for them. I quickly answer:
DON'T DO IT!
That may be a bit surprising coming from a four-time entrepreneur and someone who believes deeply in the power of entrepreneurship to change families, communities, and legacies, but I tell every entrepreneur this bit of advice because if that's all it takes to get them from taking the very scary leap into the world of entrepreneurship, I've just saved them a lot of time, heartache, money, and trouble.
But, if I tell you how hard it is and you still are willing to take the risk, then you may have what it will take to truly succeed as an entrepreneur.
I was speaking with James Ray, one half of the duo behind Little Seed Farm. He echoes this sentiment, saying, "For dairy farming and manufacturing, passion is really important. It's seven days a week, requires a ton of planning, involves battling the weather every single day, and the supply chain of our business is exceedingly complex as it grows."
He continues, "No one else will ever love your business as much as you do, so if you don't love it a ton, you're screwed. You have to love it so much that you're willing to put in the hours figuring out literally every little thing it takes to make it run seamlessly, smooth, and profitably. Just caring about it isn't enough, you have to thrive in its challenges and be willing to grow and adapt with it. That's the hard part and where the passion and motivation really come into play. It can be really difficult, and only extreme motivation can get you through those times and out of them ahead of the curve instead of buried underneath it."
Or take Klavish Faraj, who started and owns Júwon Enamel, a Nashville-based nail polish company. Her story began as a schoolteacher turned coder, who still wasn't happy. As secure as jobs in those fields are, she chose to go out on her own because of a distinct mission and calling.
In fact, it was what was right in front of her that showed her where she'd be happiest, no matter how difficult that journey might be. She says, "Removing and focusing on nail polish application was therapeutic for me and made me feel a lot better. One night I was sitting in my living room with my husband with my large box filled with a variety of nail polish colors and mentioned how I could’ve started a nail polish business with the money I spent on my master’s and that was how it all started."
Her business connects her with the deepest and most meaningful things in her life, which a traditional job did not. "I created Júwon Enamel which is a nail polish line that incorporates all things I value. It is nontoxic, includes my culture in the name, and is made for all regardless of religion." That deeper sense can keep her motivated to succeed when things get difficult.
(And they will get difficult.)
If you're thinking of starting your own business, be sure you have the intense motivation, passion, and drive to keep at it when the excitement of what's new fades. You'll need that grit and determination to see you and your idea through seasons of growth, change, competition, and challenge.
But you and your business will be better for it. (And we, your customers, will too.)