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Why do startups die? The Zealot Entrepreneur

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Steve Duplessie’s post has an ominous title Why do startups die?, but the post is actually about entrepreneurs who are zealots. It is worthwhile to share his wisdom.

A zealot entrepreneur has an all consuming passion about their idea and they make it contagious. Their perseverance, uncompromising belief in themselves and their purpose, gets the startup off the ground, inspire and motivate their followers to impossible levels and reach new heights.

Venture capitalists (VCs) always fund zealots

Entrepreneurs often confuse raising money from VCs with absolute validation that they are right. That is a fatal mistake. VCs are gamblers – if they knew you were right, they would join the company. They don’t know if you are right, so they spread some dough around to cover the board. Getting VC money means you excited them. You excited them because you are a zealot. It has NOTHING to do with being right

A VC wants the return that happens when a company succeeds – but they make bets on zealots. The zealot uses the funding success as proof that they are right – often closing whatever small crack existed for the zealot to accept external inputs and change.

That’s what kills them. By their very nature, the thing that for some period makes a zealot successful, ultimately leads to their demise.

You can start a business with zealotry, but you can’t sustain one. Passion yes, zealotry no. Passion leaves wiggle room to adapt – zealotry leaves none.

The moral?

Believe in yourself 99%. Believe in your mission 99% Always leave yourself 1% open to change. The zealot is rarely, if ever, successful forever. The passionate person able to adapt to new realities – even when they fly in the face of what they believe – is the sustainable mental model necessary for long-term success.

Written by paule1s

December 3, 2009 at 11:51 pm

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