Most of the really big returns made by investors and entrepreneurs come from companies which seem to have one unmistakable element.
We look at a mountain of deals and consequently the filtering process is very rapid. In fact over 90% of the deals that hit our respective desks are pre-filtered deals coming from our colleagues and internal networks. We look for some specifics in a deal; I’ve spoken repeatedly before about management, ideas, and execution. What I’ve not spoken about before, and for this I realise I should be chastised, beaten, ridiculed, and forced to watch an episode of the Kardashians, is PASSION.
Passion is the single fastest way to spur yourself to massive success. This is what makes it is possible to get up early, stay up late, remain inspired and engaged and to forgo other pleasures. It’s what keeps you going when from the outside looking in, the decision appears foolish.
Founders who see a problem and then build a business to solve that problem are very different from founders who simply say to themselves, “Hey, I want to be an entrepreneur so I don’t have to work for someone else.” The former are likely entering an industry which they may know something about. The latter may do OK, they may even do well, but they will rarely build a legacy, a titan, a formidable company which changes the way things are done or the way people act.
In other words, typically the “Unicorns” come from passion. What are unicorns? They are the investments that run thousands or tens of thousands of percent… Companies like Uber, Facebook, LinkedIn, The Body Shop… They are investments where a $10,000 stake changes your life, and your kids, kids lives…
Most every entrepreneur finds out that creating something is hard. You’ll work harder and longer than you’ve ever worked in your life.
Years ago when still in the corporate world, working for the man, I used to hate “mission statements”. They were, or seemed like a complete bunch of baloney trumpeted by empty suits. I think for the most part that’s still true in many large corporate organizations.
In a start-up or small company however that “vision”, that “mission statement” can be much more powerful. The mission, not the mere statement of it, is what makes a company great. It may not be written on a wall or even on any corporate documents, websites or the like but it is known by the company and those running it.
This may all sound cliché but bear with me. Man’s search for meaning and purpose is answered by a “mission”. Passion is the accelerator to that mission.
Meaning is an incredibly powerful thing. Without it we die. Literally. Many people die at age 25 and simply inhabit their bodies until they’re 80 or more at which point they slide into a box. It’s no way to live. Persistence is the stepchild of passion. It requires persistence to become great at anything. Persistence in anything will make you good but persistence together with passion can make you great.
It’s easy to see the start-ups where the founders are really passionate about what they’re doing. The energy created inspires those around them to help them.
Have you ever been in a room where you felt inspired about someone or some idea and were willing to help?
This is it. This is where a “mission” is important. This is where passion is important. A mission is also important because it is the what keeps those involved, involved when they could easily be doing something else which will likely pay them more, cause less headaches and be more “comfortable”.
Passion however is not enough. The idea needs to be sound, the team needs to be capable and the execution needs to be great. Put all of these factors together and you have a crack at a Unicorn.
Like him or loathe him Steve Jobs clearly had massive passion. His success is legendary. He was put up for adoption at an early age, dropped out of college after 6 months (something I recommended in these pages a few times), slept on friends floors, returned Coke bottles to collect the 5 cent deposits to buy food, then went on to start Apple Computers and Pixar Animation Studios.
“Find your true passion and do what you love to do,” said Steve Jobs. “Sometimes life hits you in the head with a brick. Don’t lose faith. I’m convinced that the only thing that kept me going was that I loved what I did.”
Another rouge… Tiger Woods success in golf is unparalleled. He calls his love for the game and “obsession, an addiction”. Sounds like the words of passion to me.
In every successful business person, athlete or generally happy person you will find passion. What’s your passion?
“If you love what you do, there are no difficult tasks, only interesting ones.” – Adim Kotelnikov