Entrepreneurship isn’t for everyone. The work is hard, the financial rewards elusive, and the pressures immense. To be even remotely successful, you need to have some basic business skills, be willing to work like a Volga boatman, and be oblivious to all the reasons why what you’re doing can’t be done.
But, most importantly, you need passion. Without it, you have nothing. It is passion for the idea that gets you through those long nights on the road. Passion is what helps you persuade prospects and venture capitalists that your idea is a winner. It’s what excites the press and convinces them that your story is worth writing about.
And it is your passionate conviction that reassures your family you are not leading them down the path of financial ruin.
The trick is not to lose it.
Passion must be balanced against two other sometimes-opposing forces: vision and practicality. The vision is how you articulate your passion — how you will define, guide, and build your business. The vision must be live, agile, and adaptable to take advantage of rapidly changing conditions, current events, and outside forces or business pressures.
Be willing to continually reassess what is happening around you, and don’t be afraid to alter your vision to integrate what you see. That is how you keep it fresh and relevant.
So, where does practicality come in? It’s in how you handle money, people, and growth, which is the execution side of your vision. Make “Cash is King” your motto, and define a metric to live by.
For me, it’s the 6-8 rule: Before we can hire additional staff, the cash on hand and accounts receivables must equal 6 months operating capital, or the total of cash, accounts receivable, and contracts must equal 8 months operating capital. Yes, it is conservative, but that’s what practicality means.
But holding on to the passion, above all, is the key to turning your great idea into the thriving entrepreneurial venture that you know it can become.
Sue Welch Founder and CEO TradeStone Software Gloucester, Mass.