When I think about traits that describe successful founders I often think of the word “passion.” But the more I’ve thought about it I realize this sends the wrong message. Startups are often referred to as a founders’ baby. It’s a good analogy. You invest all your time into it and you hope it grows into something successful that adds value to the world.
So looking at a founder through that lens is passion the right word? Remember the definition of passion is a “strong and barely controllable emotion.”
I am the father of three children. You could say I am passionate about the idea of being a parent. But I am certainly not passionate about the daily activities of parenting – changing diapers, separating arguing siblings, vacuuming smashed Ritz crackers off the couch.
Like parenting, a startup is a series of peaks and valleys. It’s been nearly three months since we launched York IE. Some days I feel like we’re unstoppable while other times I question every life decision I’ve ever made. I know that to succeed I have to control those emotions and remain steady.
I was emailing with Adzerk CEO James Avery recently and he said the most important trait for a founder is persistence.
In parenting, you don’t really have a choice. But in startups you can always give up. Passion burns hot but it also fades away when the going gets tough. It’s why even the most passionate people can fail.
You succeed when passion evolves into love – love for more than just the idea or the outcome. You’ve got to love the grind and all the hard stuff that comes with a startup. Because, just like parenting, that’s what makes it worthwhile. If it was easy, everyone would do it.
If you do that I truly believe your startup will grow and mature even in spite of your mistakes. At least that’s what I am hoping for with my kids.