From passion to profit

Mar 8, 2022

Driving down the East Coast of Scotland, my husband and I stopped in Leith for a quick whiff of the ocean and a feel of the brisk northern wind on our faces (and yes, it was brrrrisk). We strolled the boardwalk and were struck with all that would be expected on an established British beach; fish and chips stands, cotton candy, ice-cream vendors, and cafe-esque sellers of sausage butties and baked beans. And then… there was a little trolley, the kind that pop-up baristas use to sell fresh coffee and warm muffins on the streets of London. It was being run by two men in their mid-late twenties, proudly smiling, dressed in black waist-tied aprons.

 

They were selling 3 things:

  1. A sandwich on sun-dried tomato artisan bread with homemade Mediterranean relish, grilled halloumi, mushrooms, and fresh avocado
  2. The same sandwich with additional roasted pork and
  3. a homemade dark hot chocolate with freshly whipped cream (served with or without a splash of Scottish whisky).

Now I share this, not to celebrate their winning food combinations, but, rather, how coming across them in that context impacted me. And, what it reminded me about business.

 

  1. These guys were driven by passion

Talking with them, I found out that they were both all in, making a living doing their business full time. While the beach was their “home base”, they travelled with their trolley and changed their offering every week in line with what was seasonal, what inspired them and what “felt right”. They loved innovating and laughed as they told me about some of their “disasters”.

 

  1. They dared to be different

These guys were un-abashedly experimental, and had no concern for fitting in. They were there to provide something new; something they loved and wanted to share. And their model worked. It reminded me of Lean Start-ups (propelled by Eric Ries) in which we start with our clear vision, values and mission (IMPERATIVE for success) but then we create products on a test, measure, learn model. These guys knew exactly who they were, and what they stood for. They had no problem taking risks because they were in a position to quickly pivot in response to the market response.

 

  1. They were happy

I think there is an unwritten rule in our society that says we have to work really hard for everything we get and that our effort is often best represented by the extent to which we feel exhausted, overwhelmed and stressed. It’s a badge of honour ‒ like we have to justify our rewards with our own misery. However, these guys reminded me that working hard and exorbitant stress are not inherently synonymous. In fact, the way stress impacts our physiology makes us less creative and less proficient problem solvers. It is the counter to being innovative efficient business owners.

 

There is a lot of talk about work-life balance. However, our work is our life. It is simply one path within the milieu of our entire experience. Hence, let’s not go for balance, but instead, meaning, pleasure, connection, growth and freedom to fully express ourselves in everything that we do.

 

  1. They modelled possibility

As entrepreneurs we are in an incredibly privileged position to impact the World. We touch the lives of everyone with whom we have contact; our staff, our customers, our suppliers, our colleagues and then, through them, everyone they touch. When we are daring enough to lead with passionate purpose, to express ourselves freely, and to share our gifts; not only do we inherently reap the rewards for ourselves, but we pave the way for others to do the same. For me, that’s what these guys are really up to; changing the world, one happy entrepreneur at a time.

 

Takeaways (no pun intended…or is it?)

  1. You can make a living doing what you love and should be doing so.
  2. Happiness is not necessarily dependent upon owning a Ferrari (though that’s fun too).
  3. “Failure” is the inevitable bedfellow of innovation. Our job is to ensure we know what to attach to and what to release and are always ready to pivot in response to our learnings (and there is nothing like a 30-second risk assessment to calm the nervous system*).
  4. Stress, exhaustion and overwhelm is not a prerequisite for success
  5. We are inherently growing innovators, creators, and problem solvers and will always be happiest when we are free to fully express ourselves
  6. We all have the potential (and, as entrepreneurs, the responsibility) to change the world for the better simply by playing full out with intelligence and awareness.

 

 

How to do a 30-second risk assessment: Ask yourself;

  1. What is the absolute worst-case scenario if I take this step?
  2. What could I do if I had to accommodate this outcome? (nb: This is not the same as what would I want to do) In order to act, it’s important to assure ourselves that, at the basest level, we will be safe whatever happens. So, while we may not want to move in with Aunt Margaret or get another office job, we can calm our fear responses simply by reaffirming that safety nets exist.
  3. Is the potential reward worth the risk? Consider the best potential outcome and know that the only thing you can guarantee is that, without your action, it will never happen. How does that feel? Imagine yourself in a rocking chair at 95 yrs old on the porch of your house. What does it feel like to imagine never doing what you feel drawn to do right now?

 

 

If you are feeling called to do something else. Trust that it is time to do it. Expand, change, step up, and release your binds ‒ and as you take the next step, simply imagine a couple of smiling guys offering you a sandwich on the blowy Scottish coastline. Because, if they can do it, so can you.