To succeed as a small business owner and an entrepreneur, you need passion. That’s what led me to start my business, BlueVine, four years ago.
BlueVine, which is based in Redwood City, California, offers online working capital financing to small- and medium-sized businesses in many industries. My company provides convenient access to funds for everyday business needs, from covering payroll to procuring supplies, to dealing with emergencies and taking on unexpected business opportunities.
I grew up knowing about these business challenges. I know how insufficient cash flow can cause headaches for a small business owner. My father ran his own physical therapy clinic in New York. While my dad’s business was successful, he constantly faced a challenge: He was often forced to wait weeks and even months to get paid for his services.
His experience as an entrepreneur partly inspired my desire to start my own business in 2013. I wanted to make the process of obtaining small business financing significantly easier and faster for business owners like my dad. In other words, building BlueVine was personal.
This is true for many other entrepreneurs for whom starting a business is usually rooted in a personal goal and vision. One point cannot be overstated: Passion is typically the key ingredient to building a successful small business.
Here are three reasons why.
1. Passion can be the fuel that keeps your business going
Being a small business owner is probably one of the toughest jobs around. This is especially true if you don’t have many resources as you are getting started. When you are trying to establish your company in a market but your capital is limited and you are still in the process of building a team, passion and drive are what usually keep you going.
In fact, a recent survey by Constant Contact found the top reason small business owners start a business is to pursue their passion. Another entrepreneur, Web.com CEO David Brown, underscored this point when he said that while having a clear plan and vision for your business is important, “it’s passion that propels you forward.”
2. Passion makes it easier to log the long hours required
When you do what you love, it doesn’t feel like work. This is especially true for small business owners who typically have to wear many different hats and put in long hours.
That was certainly my experience when I started BlueVine in 2013. I had to take on multiple roles in the beginning. I was head of the company as well as the accountant, the press relations person, and the back-office manager.
Eventually, more people joined my team as the business grew and prospered. But those early days, months, and years were challenging. I endured what many other small business owners and entrepreneurs had to go through: long hours of hard work.
In fact, the majority of small business owners work over 40 hours a week, and one in three work over 50 hours a week. There’s so much that needs to be done that working on weekends is common. But that doesn’t matter if you and your team have a powerful drive to succeed.
Eventually, if you have a solid business strategy and vision, and talented, committed people who work hard to execute your plan, those long hours will pay off.
3. Passion can inspire your employees
Finding and hiring people to help me build BlueVine was one of the early challenges I had to wrestle with when I became an entrepreneur. Fortunately, I have been able to find talented people who share my passion and vision. From a handful of employees, BlueVine has grown into a thriving, successful startup of more than a hundred people.
My co-founder and BlueVine’s Chief Technology Officer Nir Klar was himself a veteran entrepreneur. Many of the people who joined our team came from bigger and established companies where they already had promising careers.
Our Chief Revenue Officer Eric Sager, who joined the company in 2016, was head of sales at Square, the successful mobile payments company. Ido Lustig, our Chief Risk Officer, was a senior manager at PayPal, while Ana Sirbu, who is now our Vice President for Finance and Capital Markets, was a senior investor at Google Capital.
Joining a young startup can be a daunting decision; being inspired and even fired up by the people leading that company is often a critical factor in taking the plunge.
Having worked in venture capital before starting my own company, I understand the importance of having a founder, CEO, or management team that can provide both direction and inspiration.
At the same time, I have also been inspired by the commitment and drive of the people who have joined BlueVine. Their passion for what we are trying to build has strengthened my own commitment and drive to succeed.
What we are trying to accomplish is not easy. I launched BlueVine because I saw an opportunity to address a need—cash flow gaps are a serious pain point for many small business owners.
I recognized early on the important role technology can play in addressing that need through a cloud-based financing platform that makes it easier for small- and medium- sized businesses to access working capital.
We have been successful; we are now one of the fastest-growing alternative business lenders in the United States. The web-based financing platform we created has helped thousands of small- and medium-sized business owners get quick and convenient access to working capital. We are now funding about $40 million in working capital each month, and we are on track to fund half a billion dollars this year.
The vision for BlueVine was clear in my mind when I launched the company. I found investors and talented people who shared that vision and who helped me build a viable business.
But while investments and talent were important, these weren’t enough. To succeed, BlueVine also needed a powerful and even unstoppable drive to build a thriving company.
Eyal Lifshitz is the founder and CEO of BlueVine, a fintech startup based in Redwood City, California, which offers working capital financing to small- and medium-sized businesses. A third generation entrepreneur, he was a principal at Greylock IL and an associate at McKinsey. Eyal holds an MBA from the University of Chicago, where he was a Carlton Fellow.