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Everyone is passionate about something. We all dream about converting that passion into a real business that can make money. Our company, ProBatter Sports, grew out of my personal love for baseball and from coaching my then-teenage son, Adam, in a youth league. His struggle to hit a curve ball led us to create a computerized baseball simulator, which a dozen years later is now used regularly by major league and college teams to train hitters. Turning that original passion for baseball into a successful business hasn’t come without difficulties, however. If you’re thinking about taking your passion to the next level, here are a few lessons to consider:
1. Creating a new product is easy. Developing a market for that product is hard. New products are created every day. Convincing people to try—let alone buy—that new product is the challenge. While you may recognize the advantages of your new product, convincing others of it is another thing entirely.
2. Know your market. Having a passion for something doesn’t mean you have a clue about the business surrounding it. The development of any new product requires a thorough understanding of that market. If you don’t have it, hire it.
3. Hire experience, not passion. Hiring passionate people is good; hiring experienced people in their particular field is better. At ProBatter, we thought we could train passionate former baseball players as salesmen. Big mistake. If you need a salesman, hire one. With the right people in place, you will find that your own passion can be contagious.
4. Try not to lose your passion. After experiencing the good, the bad, and the ugly of the business, it will be hard to keep your passion. Stay personally involved and never lose touch with the essence of what fueled your interest from the start. If after 10 years you remain passionate about your company, you’ve been successful. In our case, watching my son—for whom the product was developed—grow up to run the business as ProBatter’s president has put the icing on the cake.
Gregory J. Battersby
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