Passion in business

“Do you have to abandon your creative passion to become more businesslike?” is a question I am sometimes asked when I’m talking with creative people in business. My answer is that passion is essential in a creative business. We need to harness it, not deny it. And we must stay true to our values as our creative businesses develop and grow.

Randy Komisar’s book Monk and the Riddle, The: The Art of Creating a Life While Making a Living is a modern fable about life and work, set in California’s Silicon Valley. It emphasises the need to integrate passion and values into your business objectives. It’s an inspiring read. Its main audience is businesspeople who are driven to make money, so they can indulge their passions later, what he calls their ‘Deferred Life Plan’. Komisar’s message is about the importance of passion at the heart of a business strategy.

Creative people in business have plenty of passion – it’s the business strategy that’s sometimes the weakness. That’s why my own book ‘T-Shirts and Suits’, written especially for creative entrepreneurs, starts with the assumption of a creative passion then explains several crucial business issues which must be combined with passion to create an effective enterprise.

Komisar and I agree: it’s not a matter of choosing either/or, whether to be passionate or businesslike, as if one excludes the other. It’s a matter of integrating both, in harmony. The metaphor and philosophy of ‘T-Shirts and Suits’ is about bringing together creative passion and smart business thinking in intelligent ways that are consistent with our values.

The best strategies involve passion – and other essential business factors.

Jim Collins’ Hedgehog Strategy involves identifying what you are passionate about – plus an understanding of how you create value and in which area you can excel in relation to competitors.

Rob Kinsey is an artist with a passion – and a focus. His focus is to select a particular market he knows well and he has become successful because of  his passion in business combined with a clearly focused strategy.

Sara Lönnroth’s phrase “Let your heart drive you and your head guide you” emphasises the need to combine heart and head – passion with clear business thinking.

Passion is vital, but it’s not enough. Necessary but not sufficient.

But passion at the heart of a creative enterprise which also uses its head to devise a clear business strategy is a potent combination.