Reading a recent interview in Fortune magazine with Herb Kelleher, the founder of Southwest Airlines, I was reminded of some conversations I’d had with entrepreneurs (successful and otherwise) in the past.
Successful entrepreneurs are often easy to spot – they are passionate about what they do, and focused on their passions. Herb was one of these people – passionate about people. Regardless of the actual industry he chose, Herb would have been very successful due to this passion. Giving your employees the ability to express themselves – whether through decorating their desks or how they make their inflight announcements means that they put that little bit of extra effort into what they do.
In this dark and dreary time of year, many people’s minds turn to new beginnings – looking for a new start in their professional life, or a new diet or exercise routine. So many self-help and dieting books get a massive sales boost in January as New Years’ resolutions are made, with desperate people searching for that magic formula that will make them happy, rich and/or thin.
The bad news for those desperate seekers is that there is no magic formula. If you want to lose weight, get fit quickly and stay like that, there’s no magic pill or exercise regime that will achieve it. You have to be committed, passionate even, to losing weight and getting in shape, and really want to. Hard work and a focus on the task at hand will slowly but surely get you to your goal.
The business world is very similar – companies like Southwest Airlines, Zappos Shoes and Rackspace realised that the magic formula is simply to specialise in something that you’re passionate about. All of these businesses are passionate about their employees, and giving great service.
If you’re setting up as an entrepreneur, then find your passion and specialise in it. Don’t try to be a generalist – recognise your limits, and play to your skill set. If you’re looking to buy some shoes next time you’re in the US, check out Zappos for some amazing service. For domestic flights within the US, go for Southwest every time. If you’re looking to buy hosting, speak to someone at Rackspace – they only provide hosting, and with 15 years’ experience providing Fanatical Support, they're a pretty good bet.