The One Thing

What’s the most important thing when you start a new business?

Experienced management team?

Adequate capitalization?

Differentiated solution to an important and growing market “problem?”

Profitable business model?

A killer idea?

While all of those certainly help, they’re far from the most important aspect of a new business – any business. Sure, a bad management team can and most often will squander whatever advantages the new company starts out with, whether it’s a pile of money or a show-stopping idea. Without enough money, it’s almost impossible to survive, since ideas don’t pay rent and vendors aren’t interested in your long term prospects, just the invoice they sent you last week.

No, the only thing a new business can’t survive without is…

Passion. Yep, passion. There’s not a business in the history of the world that didn’t have some ridiculously crazy passionate person (or people) there at the beginning. Without passion, the difficult tasks don’t get done, the midnight oil doesn’t get burned, and the bad ideas don’t get discarded for yet another try at a new potential strategy.

That’s the tough news. You just won’t succeed without passion. If you don’t have it, quit. Quit now. Right. Now.

The good news is that everything else will fall into place if you have enough passion. In the words of William Hutchinson Murray (often mis-attributed to Goethe):

“Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamed would have come his way. Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Begin it now.”

So unless and until you’re so passionate about your business idea that you’re like a pit bull on Red Bull, save your time and your money. But once you are, set about getting the other things in place, have fun, and retire on that Pacific island you’ve got picked out.

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