Love is integral to making startups tick. It’s time entrepreneurs work up to love.
There is a famous four-letter word which underlies the soul and spirit of most entrepreneurial ventures. This is not to be confused with the more colourful, oft-used expression which frequently rents the air, when work pressures or colleagues get under one’s skin. The word, which incidentally is the flavour of February, is ‘love’.
Tina Turner famously sang some decades ago, ‘What’s love got to do with it?’ Interestingly when it comes to startups, ‘a lot’ might be the succinct answer to that melodious query. Here are, four of its manifestations.
Startups are the truest passion projects. Leaving behind the security of a steady job, or the calming influence of convention, to forge a new exciting, if highly uncertain path; can only be the behaviour of someone in love (or insane, usually the same thing).
The stronger the feeling of the founder and her team about their idea, the more likely the startup is to go places. This connection can be as exacting and exhausting as a real world relationship. In fact, some famous Silicon Valley venture capitalists have cited the passion and drive of the creators to make their concept work, as the key factors they look for, when deciding to fund new projects.
Needless to say, it helps to truly love the domain one is participating in. If it’s a tech startup, naturally being a geek is perhaps a match made in heaven. If finance is the core business, then it does help if you find well-rounded figures on the balance sheet more fascinating than those around you. Just like relationships fail when you try to be someone else, startups also crash when people start businesses in areas they are not really comfortable with. It makes sense to start off a venture in a field one is completely enamored with. One, who just as your true love, speaks to your true and best self.
Startups which make a mark in the world have a deep sense of purpose about them. They are not merely about churning out innovative products and services. There always seems to be a larger society shifting, culture changing perspective, to their actions. This is what drives the team further and endows the entire organisation with a sense of missionary zeal. Those in the company simply love the greater, more inspiring picture, they are helping paint.
This tale of love for ‘a higher purpose’ rings true across several famous startup stories across the globe.
Facebook sought to unite the entire planet in a global conversation. Google strove to organise the vast, complex and diverse information of the world at one’s fingertips. Airbnb connected travelers seeking authentic experiences at the destinations they wanted to visit. Ola aimed to bring high tech effectiveness to the archaic, onerous and frustrating chore of hailing cabs. These higher pursuits added meaning to the daily runaround of business, just as the promise of ‘forever together’ or ‘happily ever after’ keeps relationships strong despite the abrasion of daily skirmishes.
One of the most palpable things about startups is the feeling of bonhomie and camaraderie which permeates the workplace.
Employees appear to be having a lot of fun. There is an energy and electricity in the air (especially if the bills have been paid). And people seem to be really enjoying each other’s company. There is something about sharing an uncertain, exciting journey which helps bring people even closer together.
While who physically constitutes the core team is always important, it is perhaps their chemistry which really catalyses the progress of the organisation. Startup folklore is buzzing with teams which battled impossible odds together and overcame them. The inevitable late nights, the hurriedly cobbled together prototypes and presentations, the makeshift offices, the countless cold calls and the madness of it all; can all be extremely overwhelming if one does not have kindred souls to laugh it off with. Significantly team members also can wonderfully complement each other.
From Hewlett and Packard founding HP to the two Steves laying the seeds for Apple; entrepreneurs have always done better because of the supporting influence of their ‘better halves’.
Wise men (usually bachelors) say love has no destination and the journey is the end in itself. This is a perspective imperative to adopt when trying to initiate a startup. A startup is an arduous labour of love. Often the final goal is a mirage on the horizon, ever-changing and shifting. But one needs to keep going on. Even if at times, the sandstorms of difficulties cloud the vision.
Those who have made it to the ‘promised land’ have frequently reflected back with surprise that they got so far. They talk about how when starting out, they never thought the company would turn out to be such a huge phenomenon.
They were living the day, totally immersed in rising to the challenges at hand, completely enjoying what they were doing. It was perhaps that very counter-intuitive super focus on the immediate, which provided the trajectory to catapult them so far ahead. Much like those in love find it most fruitful to immerse themselves deeply in the sentiment, oblivious of the future consequences.
In the end it can be said that love makes the world go around. But as we have seen, it is also integral to making startups tick.
There is a power in that emotion which defies logic, climbs mountains, and makes miracles happen; something which many startups also set out to do.
It is perhaps time entrepreneurs woke up to love.
(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)