In entrepreneurial circles, there is a well-known trap waiting for any successful startup visionary, the Founder’s Syndrome, which has gotten many an organization’s founder fired by the board and/or their funders. It’s what happens when the founder’s original vision and passion, which enabled the little startup to succeed originally, actually starts to hold it back from growing past a certain point.
The limits of passion and vision
Passion and vision are amazingly powerful. They can cause people to invest in even the most crazy idea. (Can you imagine what people said in 1999 when Sergey Brin and Larry Page told their venture funders their startup was called “Google?”) But, even crazy-smart ideas have their limits. Eventually, the wild-idea startup has to take on some business discipline, learn to scale and keep coming up with marketable products and services.
No matter how smart they are, even experienced entrepreneurs rarely know all that they need to know to lead a long-term successful effort. None of us do, really. All we know is that the challenges we face today will be different from those we encounter down the road. So when we fire up our engines, here’s what the smart founder needs to do to avoid the crash-and-burn fate of Founder’s Syndrome:
- Fail fast and become skilled at letting go of any residual attachment to the failure. Learn the lessons the failuregave you and move on quickly.
- Enjoy your successes and become skilled at letting go of any residual attachment to success. You may have to do it differently next time.
- Be ready to transform yourself and your company into something altogether new. Work to put yourself out of business.
Successful Founders experience personal transformation
These all basically boil down to “become skilled at letting go and actively seek to become what the world, business and customers need from you.” When you are the founder, if you don’t transform and become capable of being more than your humble beginnings, the company can’t transform either because at first you and it are really the same. If you don’t transform, not much happens, but if the company doesn’t transform it won’t grow, scale and turn into the wealth-engine you were looking for.
But frankly, why waste the chance for a personal transformation, fueled by that thing you’re pouring your heart and soul into? Let it engergize you and give you the courage to do what we all find so difficult – to become more than we are. Let it be the impetus for your personal transformation to face your fears, experience wonderful highs, live through heart-thumping near misses and change the world.
Business is an adventure. Let it grow you into someone new.