Let me tell you a story about “John”.
John is someone I’ve known for years.
About ten years ago, John decided he was going to take all the knowledge he’d learned as an engineer and start a company. John was considered one of the best technical minds in his industry.
John seemed to fill the checkboxes of a successful entrepreneur:
- John was passionate about what he was doing, and…
- John was an expert/guru in his industry, and…
- John was driven to succeed.
John had a clear vision of what he wanted to do. John was going to focus on his core expertise and produce products that were significantly better than the competition.
The market for the products was in the billions. And because John knew the market well, John knew what to produce.
John’s status as an industry guru allowed him to recruit a strong team of likeminded engineers. John recruited a cofounder, “Jim”, to help with the marketing and sales.
Jim had a good reputation too. Jim and John had worked together previously together too.
So John and Jim started their company together. They had a strong founding team and a good plan of attack.
They started raising money, and they were almost immediately able to attract big money from tier one VCs.
The John decided to pass on getting funding. He kept complaining about losing control.
So John and Jim decided to go the bootstrapped route. They took on contract work to pay the bills.
Jim urged John to take on venture funding, but John kept saying no. John “knew” that his path was the right path.
A few years went by and Jim quit. Then John gave up a year after Jim quit.
Why did John fail?
John, as I said, seemed to have many of the traits of a successful entrepreneurs:
- He was a brilliant technologist, and…
- He was a passionate about his company, and…
- He had a vision of what he wanted to do, and…
- He recruited a great team
And John failed.
John failed because, simply put, he lacked business sense. He could have had a well funded company with good investors, but he passed.
So, no, it’s not enough to be driven and passionate to succeed.
You need to have good business sense too:
- You need to have the business sense to know when to take on investment, and…
- You need to have the business sense to select what markets to attack, and…
- You need the business sense to know how to attack those markets, and…
- You need a little luck to succeed as well.
Passion and drive have nothing to do with business sense. And you will almost surely fail if you don’t have business sense.
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