- “Without commitment you cannot have depth in anything.” Neil Strauss
- “Motivation is what gets you started. Commitment is what keeps you going.” Jim Rohn
- “Commitment leads to action. Action brings your dream closer.” Marica Wieder
- “You always have two choices: your commitment versus your fear.” Sammy Davis Jr
- “Most people fail not because of a lack of desire but because of a lack of commitment.” Vince Lombardi
I was asked to comment on what commitment means to entrepreneurship; most of the replies from others in the discussion, echoed the sentiments of famous quotes and inspirational posts such as those. I found myself sitting in a room with some people I greatly respect as startup advisors, and I realized that I was about to completely disagree with all of them.
What does commitment have to do with entrepreneurship?
“Commitment screws up most founders,” I uttered apprehensively, certain my friends would raise an eye brow at why I was being incorrigible.
We were at a coffee spot, outside, masked up thanks to coronavirus, but enjoying a bit of sunshine and fresh air by the lake in Austin, TX. And I dropped that opposite point of view, “Commitment screws up most founders.”
Of course it was met with silence but as we sat there, I noticed it wasn’t met with disappointed silence but rather curious silence…. go on…
It’s misleading and inaccurate that people suggest commitment is paramount as an entrepreneur. In time, commitment might be and in some respects, commitment matters, but most founders fail because of a fixation that their solution, their product, or their point of view, is right. Commitment screws up most founders.
What does commitment have to do with entrepreneurship?
Not much, frankly.
It helps to make sure we’re clear on the distinction between entrepreneur and founder because the question posed was what commitment means to entrepreneurs and entrepreneurs are an unusual bunch, a type of person or quality that works best at earliest stage of a problem, opportunity, or venture. An entrepreneur might become a founder and a founder might find success and make it as a business owner or executive in their company, but the entrepreneur? The entrepreneur and commitment are like oil and water.
“Entrepreneur” is the personality trait few people have, that fixates them on seeing gaps and opportunities in the market and needing invest themselves into improving those. Most people aren’t like that.
You know these people, they tend to be involved in a lot, do a lot more than their work expects of them, start things, build their own things, wear many hats. People with this personality quality tend to have higher mental health challenges like anxiety and depression, because they can be difficult to work with, they usually lose money, and are constantly shifting their priorities and attention.
So, commitment? Ha, no, in fact not really at all
Now, here’s though why I said that a lot of this is wrapped in misunderstanding…
Few people are actually entrepreneurial
And there is nothing at all about “entrepreneur” that means they start businesses or are founders!!
Most entrepreneurial people just work jobs, or not at all.
SOME entrepreneurial people start business.
And indeed, a higher percentage of entrepreneurial people start businesses than most others. Hence the correlations and confusions.
Many business owners are NOT entrepreneurial.
Many startup founders are NOT.
Many entrepreneurs do start businesses or startups, but most people who do are not entrepreneurial, at all.
These words do not mean the same thing.
That very focused and specific skilled founder? Probably not an entrepreneur. That successful business owner quite content running their business? Not an entrepreneur.
Commitment is practically a requirement for successful startups. In fact, most startups genuinely fail simply because the founders give up. Er go, commitment.
Commitment is important in new businesses and with business owners, but then again… they should be making money so it’s not necessarily hard to stay committed, presuming that’s the case.
Commitment is one thing that “entrepreneurs” tend to really struggle with or even lack.
[Photo by Mark Duffel on Unsplash]
Completely agree with you here!
I absolutely love this!
How you define an entrepreneur here matches me to a T. As such I often feel a pull to be a founder, but fear the commitment to one problem and solution!
I find myself much more excited about solving a lot of problems and that usually matches more for a COO type position.
As I’m figuring out my next career, I’m taking that entrepreneurial spirit to find a company who needs a think on your feet problem-solver and leader.
Sounds more like being a founder is in your future David Sohl
Certainly, the right personality to be in a startup!
Thanks Paul. That really means a lot coming from you!!!
If you have any suggestions on where to connect to get started, it’s very appreciated.
Broadly, a thought, because I just had this conversation with a Major Consulting Firm partner who wants a career change (and big consulting firm / MBA types rarely make a decent transition to startup pace/risk tolerance.
I told her this:
1. Pick an industry. Companies and jobs and ROLES in which you could do what you do do, just about anywhere. Startups need specialization… so what’s the specialization (e.g. mine is Media).
2, Pick what you deliver that a startup needs, from this list:
– Coding / Building
Be clear about how/what that looks like and it can be easy to plug in to startups ?
Paul O’Brien This is helpful. I’m trying to refine this by jotting on paper the industries I’m best fit for.
The second part is easier. I’m definitely in the growth skill set. Just listing out how my skills do that.