Despite the much-lauded idea that passion breeds success, an SME adviser has suggested that passion in business is “overrated” and has little to do with financial prosperity.
Writing in the American version of The Guardian, US-based columnist and owner of SME consulting firm The Marks Group, Gene Marks (pictured), suggested that being passionate about what you do is simply a “romantic fantasy”.
In the column dated 28 February 2019, Mr Marks suggested that “my most successful small business clients aren’t the most passionate” about what they do. Instead, he said that the most successful are the ones who are “excited” by making money.
“Passion only accounts for so much. Passion doesn’t pay the bills. Passion doesn’t collect cash from deadbeat customers. It doesn’t avoid employees from not showing up and vendors from not making their deliveries,” he said.
“Just having passion doesn’t hide the fact that it’s a cold, hard world out there and that no matter how many people are wishing you well, very few of them will write checks.”
Mr Marks’ assertions suggest that a shake-up is needed to the common mantra of “focus on your passion and the money will follow”, making it akin to “focus on the money and your happiness will follow”.
“My most successful clients who own small businesses aren’t incredibly passionate about what they do… but they generally enjoy their work and are happy to be running their own show,” he said.
“What does excite them the most about their business is the money. That’s because a business is just a business. It exists to provide a livelihood for the owners, their employees and their families.”
Mr Marks suggested that business leaders and entrepreneurs should focus on the view that their business is just business — i.e. a cash cow to fund their true passions in life.
“The passion comes from all the things a business can help you buy to make your life better: a decent house, a few vacations, a college education for your kids, a comfortable retirement, charitable donations. I like my business. But I’m passionate about those things,” he said.
According to his company’s website and LinkedIn profile, Mr Marks has written six books on business management, and launched his consulting business in 1994, having previously spent nine years working at KPMG.
Adam Zuchetti is the editor of My Business, and has steered the publication’s editorial direction since early 2016.