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Author's profile photo Christopher Koch

How Do You Balance Passion with Business?

cycling picture for blog.jpgI love riding bicycles. Yet I live in a place (Boston) that’s terrible for cycling, with roads that look like archaeological digs, legions of cranky drivers, and awful weather. What drives all this aberrant behavior (you should see my winter riding outfit) is something we all share, whatever our individual interests: passion.

A few days ago, I bought a new bicycle. It’s beautiful, ridiculously expensive, and completely impractical for anything but expressing a passion. I bought it from a man named Craig Gaulzetti, who in his role as a bicycle shop manager, was friendly and spent a lot of time helping me order the bike from an Italian brand I have long admired.

When a Passion Becomes a Living

Turns out, however, that when Gaulzetti leaves the bike shop where he sells bikes, he goes to a place where be builds them, passionately.

But mixing business and passion is hard. Making hand-built bicycles is labor intensive, competition is intense from other equally passionate builders, and margins are driven down by large, industrial manufacturers capable of making very good products that, to the dispassionate eye, don’t look or work much differently from the ones Gaulzetti makes.

Revenues Do Not a Business Make

Gaulzetti told me that he currently has orders for all the bikes he can possibly make. It’s a testament to his abilities as a builder. But as he pointed out, there’s a chasm separating the small custom shop from the rest of the bicycle business.

The Inflection Points of Small Businesses

Gaulzetti is at the point every successful small-business owner eventually faces: the need to start acting like a real business. At this critical inflection point, he needs to consider changes to the business’s operations, organizational structure, and management to continue the company’s growth. It requires that he become as passionate about growing the business as he is about building bikes.

Last spring, my colleague Rob O’Regan, did a lot of research and worked with many experts inside and outside of SAP to develop a story about how small companies can successfully navigate the inflection points of growth. If you have time, you can read the full article. If you’re working two jobs like Gaulzetti, you may only have time to scan the E-Book.

Will you share your story of how you put your passion to work in the comments section please?

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