Everyone wants to know the “magic ingredient”, what makes a startup business successful. Great product? Solid financing? Excellent management? We may be getting warm there with the last one. Usha Sekar of The Startup Ethos answers a VCs question, “How do you know which business will survive? How do you know when to hold?” Sekar, who has seen startups come and startups go, believes it ultimately reduces to the founder’s determination. He advises his VC friend to look for the voice, gestures and a certain look in the eye that marks the highly determined founder, and hold onto that venture.
Sekar also links to Paul Graham’s Startup Lessons, and Graham’s point #5 is very much the same. Graham says, “Commitment is a self-fulfilling prophecy.”
Now, neither Graham or Sekar, wanted to believe that a highly subjective human factor was more important than anything else in the success of a business, but they continue to find the notion irrestible. As both of them point out, you have to have other things right, too, but I posit that without determination the best product and most rigorous finances are going to have a difficult time succeeding.
As someone once wrote, “Commitment is what keeps you going when you encounter rejection, disappointment and failure. In fact, to someone committed, there is no such thing as failure. It is simply one more way that didn’t work.” I wish I could locate the author of that quote. Does anyone out there know?