I recently met a plumber who told me a story I’ve heard many times before.  This plumber started his company because he had a skill he enjoyed, enjoyed using that skill to help others and desired the autonomy of “being his own boss.” Like most of us who have started a company, this owner had the passion and motivation to strike out on his own.

As the plumber’s business grew, he started adding both skilled and office staff to keep up with demand.  Before long, he found himself running a company instead of being engaged in the skill he enjoyed.  In addition, the autonomy of being his own boss has given way to being responsible for the well-being of 12 employees.

This is not an unusual story.  We all know owners who started their business based on a passion and, as the business grows, find themselves managing a company.  And managing a company and its employees can be complexing and extremely challenging.  After all, not everyone can be an MBA.  (Nor really wants to be.)

Increased Passion = Increased Engagement = Increased Profitability

At this point, I can almost hear my father saying: “But that’s just part of owning a business.”  Based on personal experience of being an owner and working with many others, I can report it is possible to manage the company as well as feel passionate and motivated about it.  In fact, that passion can mean the difference between the company thriving or not.

And the issue is much broader than just the owner’s personal passion and motivation.  An owner’s outlook is contagious.  If you are not motivated and engaged in what you are doing neither are your employees.  (Any owner who believes otherwise is deceiving themselves.) This directly impacts profitability since engaged employees are more productive and result in lower turnover. The end result:  A motivated, passionate owner and workforce leads to increased profitability. Of course, the added benefit is a much more pleasant working environment for everyone including yourself.

Regaining the Passion

You’ve come a long way since you founded the business.  And your perspective has too. The first step to recovering the drive you had back then is to either regain or refresh your perspective.  Here are some questions to ask yourself:

  • Do you remember what motivated you to setup the company in first place?
  • What has changed since then? Which of these changes are you happy you made and which would you undo if you could?
  • Do you want to return your original passion or are there aspects of your business you find more motivating now?

This last question is critical:  To regain passion and motivation, you don’t have to return to exactly the way it was at the company’s start.  In fact, many owners would never want that.  For instance, the plumber I mentioned may now be more motivated by sales than by roughing-in the plumbing for a new build.  (In reality, this plumber still enjoys and is sticking to working on plumbing installations. But he has switched his focus away from residential to commercial work which he appreciates for the no-nonsense approach of commercial developers.)

Watch for a future article where I suggest a time-tested approach to help owners overcome constraints to develop a realistic plan for regaining passion and increasing your motivation.