CEO Sundays: Ken Oboh on The Importance of PassionBY: Guest Post | December 16, 2012
The world of business is often thought of as cold and heartless. Tall skyscrapers employing thousands of people in well-tailored suits set only on sealing the deal at any cost possible and profiting from it. Of course, this is not always the case, especially when considering entrepreneurs and industries that are seemingly oversaturated. In fact, real feelings and a personal connection to an industry—that is, a true passion for it—can be the key to progress.
Pursue Your Passions, Not the Piggy Bank
Two viewpoints exist when entering a business or industry. The first looks at it from a purely monetary standpoint. Many entrepreneurs simply look to invest in a business for short-term returns, reinvest that profit into larger ventures, and gain increasing profits along the way. Risk takers and sharp investors follow this model regularly, and it can lead to great success.
The second perspective, however, is to view the transition out of desire. You decide to enter an industry, not as a short-term money making venture, but because you have a passion for the industry. As an entrepreneur, your goal from this vantage point is to discover a way to add value to that industry. You have an emotional attachment to the industry and its continued success.
The Market Approach
In most cases, if you’re entering a “market” rather than an industry, this could be an indicator that you’re already choosing the first approach. Seeing a venture as a way of gaining returns in the short-term can cause entrepreneurs to take a more calculated approach. If investors see an industry as oversaturated, they may abandon that industry quickly, either because it is too difficult to enter successfully or does not appeal to profit-minded people. If several people have already tapped that “market”, what do they have to gain?
The music industry provides the perfect example of this phenomenon. Numerous successful business people who have profited from other industries decide to enter the music business in the hopes of making quick returns. Often, this results in the investing of large sums of money in an artist, recording, and marketing campaign followed by a lack of prompt short-term returns. These profit-driven people generally exit the music industry fairly quickly, frustrated by lack of relatively quick returns on their large investments. They lack an understanding of how musicians grow to reach an audience.
The Commitment Approach
However, if you choose to enter an industry because you genuinely have a passion for it and want to make a positive impact, then your commitment can create possibilities. An industry, even if technically saturated, can never be oversaturated if you tackle your pursuits wisely and enthusiastically. With a long-term commitment to serving the industry and finding new and exciting solutions, you will find a way to work your way in, add value, and succeed in that industry.
Passion and emotion are important in setting yourself or your business apart in a full market. The mainstream business community might appear to be only cold, impartial numbers and calculations , but genuine connections can occur frequently. While numbers are ultimately important, you should ask yourself some questions about the emotional reasons you want to enter the industry:
-What do I feel about the industry/business?
-What makes me angry, happy, sad, or frustrated about the way the industry currently operates?
-Why do these things affect me in that way?
Take time to honestly reflect on what you feel about the industry and why you want to enter it. Your mission and direction will flow naturally from the answers to these questions. A genuine mission will automatically set your business apart and help you get ahead of the curve in the industry.
Is Passion Enough?
Of course, there are exceptions to this idea that passion is enough in deciding to enter certain business, mainly industries that are too “capital-intensive.” Small, entrepreneurial players who don’t possess the same extensive resources as larger contenders may find it difficult, sometimes even impossible, to overcome the financial necessity required in such industries. By and large, if you stay within industries in which small, entrepreneurial players can participate, there will be no lack of avenues to prosper.
An industry needs multiple factors and perspectives to function. If you truly have a passion to play in that industry, saturated or not, you will discover a way to create a unique identity and success. Plan accordingly and let that passion and enthusiasm flourish.
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