7 Warning Signs That You Have an Unhealthy Relationship with Your Business

May 6, 2011

in Business

6 Secrets to Startup Success

The following seven warning signs that your business is in danger being trapped by your passion (aka, The Passion Trap) come from a new book by John Bradberry, called 6 Secrets of Startup Success (the foreword is written by Pam Slim, author of Escape from Cubicle Nation).

Are any of these familiar to you? There are more listed in the book. I’ve listed the ones here that I think entrepreneurs in this circle could relate to.

  • “Thinking or saying, ‘This is a sure thing.’”
  • “Believing your solution is better than anything on the market.”
  • “Finding yourself saying (about your customers), ‘They don’t get it yet, but they will.’”
  • “Measuring progress by how good you feel.”
  • “Lacking clarity about where your business stands financially.”
  • “Expecting most of your sales to come from word-of-mouth or ‘viral’ marketing.”
  • “Thinking that planning is a waste of time.”

(6 Secrets to Startup Success, Bradberry, p. 45)

The Passion Trap

I’ll take “measuring progress by how good you feel” for 1000, Alex.

If you’ve ever started a business, some or all of the seven signs above may strike a chord with you. None are so far-fetched that they are unfathomable. In fact, like most cons (aka negative things), there is a very fine line between them and their positive counterparts.

I resonate mostly with “thinking that planning is a waste of time.” Although I might not think that, really, I certainly demonstrate it because I do not spend nearly enough time planning. People like me attach to being called a risk-taker or go-getter (See? There is always a fine line between something positive and it’s flipside).

I don’t actually think planning is a waste of time to me, but I don’t make it a priority, either. That one warning sign leads to several of the others, because when we don’t plan, we run the risk of neglecting the important things, and instead, spend too much time (or even too much money) on what’s not important. That’s a prescription for failure.

When we see what we want to see

When it comes to being passionate about our businesses and ideas involving our business’ services or products or future or current state, there are fine lines between enough and too much. In my opinion, some passion is necessary. However, too much can lead to an unhealthy relationship, where we cling to our business ideas so much that we can’t or won’t allow ourselves to see our business the way our customers do (or will). This skewed perspective could prevent us from taking the necessary steps toward success.

Bradberry says that

“… one of the most dangerous effects of the passion trap [is] your blind faith that customers will believe in your product simply because you do.”

Been there and done that! When we see only what we want to see, we make poor decisions that adversely affect our business. Bradberry talks about these missteps and poor decisions in our thinking, beliefs, and actions as the passion trap. And according to him, a lot of the reason so many startup businesses fail is due to the passion trap.

“Turn Your Entrepreneurial Passion Into a Thriving Business”

There IS a bright side, though; it’s possible to be both a passionate business owner and a successful business owner. The way to succeed is to be mindful of the passion trap and avoid it. There’s work involved with that, of course, but most entrepreneurs that I know aren’t allergic to hard work, so it’s doable! For me, personally, I know that I have a lot of work to do. I don’t get emotionally attached to my business, per se, but I also do not do the necessary heavy-lifting, particularly around planning (or anything having to do with numbers).

How to Avoid The Passion Trap

How can we as startup business owners avoid the passion trap and succeed where so many fail?

You’ll have to listen in to bizchickchat live! on Monday at 12:30 ET on BlogTalkRadio to find out. :) I will be interviewing Bradberry himself, and we’ll get down to the core pattern of the passion trap and talk about how to avoid it. Click the link to head over to the show’s page and set a reminder email so that you can join us for the interview. It’s going to be excellent.

I highly recommend reading 6 Secrets to Startup Success if you are serious about developing a successful business. If you’re just “feeling things out” or “testing the waters,” maybe the book isn’t for you. But it is for you if you see yourself as a long term business owner with a successful company (or companies).

What do you think? Have you thought about the passion trap before? Do you agree with Bradberry’s viewpoint about blind faith in your business?

Morgan May 17, 2011 at 8:59 am

Hi Tia!

I’m so glad there’s a replay of this because I am sad that I missed it! I have definitely been a little TOO ‘gung-ho’ about some of my new start-up businesses, but I have learned from those mistakes, calmed down and really focused while keeping my passion. Being passionate about your business is an extremely important part, but it’s important that it doesn’t ‘blind us’ and doesn’t become the ’97% part of the business’, as it says in the interview. :)

Sweet podcast and great post!

Adie@rustic furniture May 11, 2011 at 6:37 am

This article is a mind opener to me. I realized a lot of things about how and what I think about my business. And it’s just through this post that I’ve learned that one can be a trap to his/her own passion. “Measuring progress by how good you feel” is my attitude and now I know I have to do something to correct it. Thank you for sharing this post Tia!

Tia Peterson May 11, 2011 at 10:47 am

You’re so welcome, Adie! I’m glad you got something out of it! I hope you listen to the interview with John – he is really the mastermind behind the passion trap!

Mike May 9, 2011 at 3:20 pm

It can be hard to make it sometimes but if you keep your focus and don’t lose your passion it will be easier to succeed.

Dennis Edell@ Direct Sales Marketing May 7, 2011 at 4:42 pm

I have to agree with some above. The biggest passion trap I see businesses fall into is not changing with the times.

All the planning in the world means anything if you don’t leave some room to change and evolve with the times around you.

redkathy May 6, 2011 at 11:58 pm

Things always change. Progress can only happen if you are passionate enough to allow it. Too much passion is exactly what you say, it skews the truth. Looking at the successful competition and comparing them to your business is a good way to keep your passion in check!

I do more prioritizing than planning these days. Scheduling is something that takes planning however when taking finances into consideration, prioritizing has to come before planning in this economy in order to balance the workload. I call it the BIG juggle!

Hope I can make the show this week!

Tia Peterson May 7, 2011 at 4:54 pm

I hope you can make the show, too, Kathy! Too much passion can skew just about anything. :) Passion is a wonderful thing in just the right doses.

Fran Aslam From Online writer May 6, 2011 at 6:31 pm

Well written post. when It come to business, I have a special theory of my own. I study what ever is needed but the decision for my business is based on the gut feeling that I get from inside me, and once my inside makes a decision, I think about it logically, putting goods and bad of the project together and one day i feel this is it I can not look for it no more, follow my gut or move to another project.

Fran A

Martina Iring May 6, 2011 at 11:52 am

Thanks for sharing Tia! Sounds like a really interesting read. I personally am pretty big on planning. I schedule in time to do so and revisit my plans every few months or so to make sure that I’m on the right track and to tweak as things evolve. I find this really helps to focus my efforts and ensure that I’m prioritizing tasks properly.

Tia Peterson May 6, 2011 at 12:25 pm

That’s great, Martina! I think that if you are a planner, you are a huge step ahead of those of us who tend to “do first.”

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