Balancing Heart and Head for Entrepreneurial Success
If you have ever thought about starting a business or side-hustle, your ideas were probably inspired by the things you’re most passionate about. It’s super exciting to turn what you love into a business and there is something meaningful and special about a new venture that is a heart-centered labor of love.
I have had conversations with more than one entrepreneur who launched the business of their dreams, only to watch it slowly devolve into a nightmare scenario as the realities of business ownership crept in. This often happens when we start out 100% heart-focused on our passion, and in all the excitement of a new venture, we neglect to add the logic or ‘head’ component to the equation.
One conversation stands out from several years ago when I was a spa owner. I was grabbing coffee with a fellow spa owner who began her career as a massage therapist. When she started out, she loved being a sole practitioner and felt the next logical step was to open a spa and expand on her passion. Two years into the venture, she was no longer able to do the part of the business she loved – working with her massage clients – because she was so bogged down in paperwork, people management and dealing with taxes and customer service issues. She was becoming burnt out and was experiencing a growing level of resentment toward the business. What began as a passion was no longer fun and had become anxiety-provoking.
Within a couple months of our conversation, she put the business up for sale and returned to massage therapy as a sole practitioner. The next time I saw her, she looked so much happier and it was obvious that a huge burden had been lifted from her shoulders.
I share this story, because it is typical of many entrepreneurs or side-hustlers who begin entrepreneurship with their passion but get caught off guard when the realities of business operations begin to surface.
So, how do you balance heart (emotion) and head (logic) in a way that sets realistic expectations and gives you the best chance for long-term, sustainable success?
Balancing Head and Heart-Focused Traits in Your Business
Heart-Focused Traits: Let’s start with what likely got you interested in entrepreneurship in the first place – your passion. Emotion is a compelling driver of engagement and action and is the thing that provides the spark behind your vision.
- Intuition: The part of your business that comes from the heart is closely related to gut feelings. Plugging into intuition allows you to quickly make decisions when it’s needed. Those decisions often align more truly to your core values and beliefs. Leveraging your intuition also increases creativity.
- Enthusiasm: Your love of what you’re doing and the enthusiasm that you express every time you share your venture gets others excited and can be a big part of getting others onboard with your vision. This enthusiasm is central to building relationships and growing your network which will in turn help grow the foundation of your business. This can be especially important when seeking investors or for making your first hires.
- Purpose: When you’re doing something that is meaningful and serves others it creates a sense of purpose and joy to your venture. That purpose can even translate into giving back to a cause or community, or it may manifest in the way you choose to serve others through your business.
- Perseverance: That passion that first got you excited about your venture also has the power to carry you through times of challenge. The ability to persevere is perhaps the top indicator of business success. Tough times happen in every venture and it can be incredibly easy to throw in the towel and just give up. When your passion is the spark behind your business, you’re less likely to simply walk away when the inevitable challenges crop up.
Head-Focused Traits: While heart plays a big role in the success equation, there are times when you’ll need to consider the more logical or head-focused aspects of business to help ensure long-term growth and survival of your business – not to mention profitability. Head-focused traits are often driven by logic, skills, and analysis of data.
- Strategy, Planning and Goal Setting: The spark of passion provides the energy to launch a business, but if you don’t have a plan or goals, it is difficult to turn a profit or sustain business operations for the long-term. A business that doesn’t sustain itself financially is simply a hobby. For tips on planning and goal setting, read this post.
- Accountability, Discipline and Focus: When your passion is also your business, there may be days you don’t feel like working on a project and you may be tempted to enjoy a Netflix binge or other enticing distraction. Enough distractions, and all the progress you made on your business will stall out. To turn your passion into a successful business, discipline and focus are essential to make progress. You can find more about accountability in this post.
- Research and Skill Building: When you start your venture, it’s often true that ‘you don’t know what you don’t know.’ As you dive into your business, you will need to research to uncover what skills and tools you’ll need to help you reach your goals. There are a multitude of free resources online to get you started, as well as advanced paid resources that go deeper into key topics. You may even want to consider working with a coach or mentor who has already been there and can help you as you carve your path.
As you think about the head-focused skills that will help turn your passion into a profitable business, you frequently will have the option of hiring people to assist with many of these areas. When you’re first starting out however, and before the money begins coming in, you will likely have to do much of the work yourself. Even if you have a budget to hire a team, it’s a good idea to learn how to manage these pieces yourself. You never know when you may need to jump in and take over if something unforeseen crops up.
As you analyze your strengths and seek to grow your business your heart and passion will be the spark that drives your business, while the hard skills of planning, discipline and skill building will help sustain and evolve your business. Choose to blend head and heart to maximize your potential for long-term business success.
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