Do You Love What You Do?

halloween

During the Halloween season, my family enjoyed visiting the home of a professional designer of holiday light shows. Every year, he sets up an elaborate scene with flashing lights and other effects, and adds ghosts, skeletons, and zombies to the mix. After the sun goes down, the show starts as lights flash in sync with the spooky music, and neighborhood families – including ours – gather around and enjoy the spectacle.

My 6-year old son enjoyed the show so much that he wanted to write a note to the owner. On a little piece of note paper, he shared his appreciation, including: “We love your lights. Your lights are graet.” (He’s still working on his spelling.) After leaving the note, we returned the next night and the owner let us know he put a picture of the note up on his business’ Facebook page. Indeed, he did, and it was what he wrote to go along with it that is most telling to me:

“This is why I love what I do.”

The owner of the light show doesn’t charge admission, though he does accept donations. The show is free, running half a dozen times every night for weeks leading up to Halloween. Later this year, he’ll set up a Christmas scene and run that for weeks as well.

His professional work has not gone unnoticed. One of our local landmarks reached out to him last year to set up a holiday light show for the public, and he has been profiled in a local newspaper. So, it’s fair to say that the work he’s doing at home has become a strong lead generation strategy. In other words, showing off what you can do for free can lead to paid opportunities. It’s a tactic taken by many businesses: giving users a taste of their content or services can compel them to become members, subscribe, or even pay for complete access.

That’s right: giving stuff away for free can lead to increased revenue and profits down the road.

However, when it comes to running a business, personal fulfillment is one metric that is difficult to satisfy for many. Businesses are certainly not all about making money, though that is one primary need for staying in business. The intention is to keep your business running for years to come, and faced with the everyday challenges of promoting, creating, managing finances and employees, supporting customers, and every other entrepreneurial job, it’s tough to find time or ways to make yourself feel good about what you do.

The story shared here provides a simple example of how a business can use social media to show it’s listening to its customers and how to share a success story. Perhaps the mention on Facebook will spur others to leave notes and donations, or lead to a business opportunity.

But keep in mind that many businesses begin because of a personal mission: a belief in a cause, a desire to share your expertise, or to work on something fun or dear to your heart. If the work you’re doing compels a child to write a thank you note, it’s bound to bring a smile to your face and renew your faith in the professional direction you’ve taken. Here’s hoping the professional path you take continues to bring a smile to your face as well.

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Dan Gorgone

Marketing teacher / Team Leader at Treehouse. Usability preacher. Red Sox fan. Born and raised in Boston. Follow him on Twitter at @dangorgone.

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