Passion is the #1 Cause of Failure in Startups

April 5, 2011

Principle 4 – Passion is the #1 Cause of Failure in Startups

Entrepreneurs, especially startup entrepreneurs are notorious for their passion. There are few greater examples of people that believe so whole-heartedly in what they are doing than the startup investor. Most business writing you’ll read will probably tell you that are a good thing, that passion is the number one key to success in a startup. We propose that they are wrong in a very large way. We would even go so far as to say that passion is the number one reason for failure in startups.

Passion is an emotion built on attachment and ego. It’s a great emotion to have and essential to a startup, but is something that needs to kept and held in check. Uncontrolled passion is a sure a sign as any of an impending implosion. Startups that attach to their product or service with the knowledge that it is the “right” way risk everything based on a bias. This attachment and emotional trigger forms a bias around the How of an idea, or startup, not the Why.

What is really being talked about is tenacity. Tenacity is the relentless, dogged pursuit of your Why. As was talked about in Principle One, your idea isn’t that important. Getting caught up in How you do something will only serve to hamstring your success, but truly understanding your Why will allow you pursue that goal with relentless doggedness.

If you want to truly embrace your tenacity and keep your passion in check there are two steps we like to follow:

    1) Clarity & Alignment

    2) Measurement