Inc.com’s Ilan Mochari wrote “What Happens When Entrepreneurs Fall in Love With Their Creations”.  The article went in a different way than I thought.  In light of the Golden Globe-nominate Her starring Joaquin Phoenix and Scarlett Johansson (voice) where Phoenix’s character, Theodore Twombly, falls in love with a computer system, Mochari writes about the propensity for entrepreneurs to fall in love with their creations.  Though, the ending was more of a cautionary note for any one of us, in general, about the attachment we have these days to technologies. 
Mochari opened the article talking about the “edifice complex,” a spin on the Oedipus complex when sons fall in love with their mothers.  The edifice complex is where a person falls in love with a building, or at least, the desire to the design one.
Mochari talks about how Jim Koch’s, founder of Boston Beer Co., love for his business enabled him to pursue building a state-of-the-art manufacturing facility despite providing minimal value, instead, adding substantial costs in capital and operating costs.  (He later realized his folly and moved to build a smaller facility, but only after heavy investment in time and capital.)
Lessons and Take-Aways
The conclusion of the article was a little more “generic”, and could serve entrepreneurs/ readers with a more cautionary tale in touching on Koch’s dilemma.  That is, there are many perils when it comes to loving our creations as entrepreneurs including some thoughts below:

Failure to see the real opportunities.  I’ve long described entrepreneurial endeavors analogous to raising a kid (for better or worse).  As such, we sometimes believe our creations are perfect as they are, and no, he never bit Little Billy despite jaw impressions to the contrary.
When you’ve spent hours and weeks and months and years on your product, you may be blinded to see that there is something eerily wrong underneath the covers.  As such, it’s important that even though you may test features for success/ failure, getting feedback early and often from your customers and prospects lends critical perspective to ensure your product hits the spot.

Blinded to the failures.  Somewhere in your journey of the startup roller coaster, you may stumble and fall.  Periodically, the team should evaluate the direction of the company, and whether or not the current path will lead to the Land where you want to be.  However, sometimes love of your startup may blind you thinking your startup will succeed, when in fact, it won’t.  Either a pivot is needed, or shutting down is the more appropriate direction so you can move onto another project.  Of course, this can be tricky and takes real consideration whether or not you may just be in the “trough”.

Stagnation for improvement.  This can be confused with the above, but I want this to be clear: what I mean here is the debt (not financial, but technical or otherwise) of the startup.  If you’ve been working on a project for years (oftentimes, not that long), you may believe your product is so perfect that it can’t actually be improved anymore. Or maybe that it’s in a great place where it doesn’t need to be improved.
We, as a people, should strive to learn to better ourselves and the people around us.  We’ve always got room to improve.  As such, our creations oftentimes have room for improvement as well.
I like the notion of the idea of Six Sigma – the notion of process improvement to reduce variability.  With Six Sigma, you’re constantly looking to improve.  When you reduce variation to some level, then you crank the screws tighter and the cycle for improvement continues.

Over-valuing your startup.  Tune into ABC on Friday evenings, and you can catch a glimpse of over-valuation galore on Shark Tank.  You’ll see Mr. Wonderful, Mark Cuban, and the other sharks pointing out hideously high valuations of entrepreneurs; thus, putting in a massive hurdle where the entrepreneurs never get investment.
I like capitalism and the notion of free markets where the market pays what the market bears.  I haven’t had quite the opportunity to really sell a company (yet), but the idea here is that entrepreneurs’ biased views and love for their startups sometimes fail to recognize the notion that what they believe the worth of their company is can be very different from what it’s worth to the free market.  This may lead to a failure to do a deal in a complete liquidity event or investment to get the business blasting off the ground.
Wrapping It Up!
Hey, passion for our startups is important in entrepreneurship.  It can be a great ingredient in how we continue to pursue our dreams.  Passion and love gives us that genuine spirit that enables us to invigorate and motivate prospects into investing in us or buying our products.  However, love for our products should be tempered with realism.
Have you seen the movie Her?  What are your thoughts on our growing dependence on technology?  What are some other ramifications of falling for our startups as entrepreneurs?

Today’s post is a bit different… Not talking about any supply chain or job specifically, but I wanted to touch on something that’s been on my mind a lot recently with my co-founded startup Body Boss Fitness.  That, and David Cummings has a great post about this: part-timing to build a product and company — great post and tough lesson (see article here).  It highlights a few very important lessons for aspiring entrepreneurs especially the need to run full-speed on a project.  That being said, I’d also like to  point out a few take-aways specifically for those aspiring entrepreneurs (this list is not all inclusive nor exhaustive, just immediately on my mind).  

  1. Building a business is tough.  Taking the plunge is not for everyone understanding there are life circumstances and personalities that necessitate bootstrapping a project.  Wheels may spin, and it’d be great to have that all crucial customer feedback soon and up front.  The key, I believe, is continuous learning along the way even if it’s internally focused (learning how to code, dealing with the attrition of team members, etc.).
  2. Be ready to commit at the right time.  Building on the preceding bullet, committing full-time to development of the product would be great, however, there are extenuating circumstances (yes, I’ll include “fear” here) that may necessitate bootstrapping.  What will surely kill your startup is launching and doing nothing to nurture it.  I learned this when friends and I launched ABigEffU.com.  Huge failure.  We developed it in 30 days, but after it launched, we just sat back thinking it would just take off.  It was a stupid move, and one that I also didn’t commit to because it was more of a challenge if we could build something but I wasn’t passionate about it.  There’s a big lesson learned — startups don’t go anywhere without care and attention (and some love).  It’s kind of like having a baby… take care of the baby while in the womb, yes.  You can still work, go out with friends (don’t drink, please), etc. while the baby’s in there.  But when that baby comes, you better be ready to commit to parenting.  (Maybe a bad analogy, but you get the point.)
  3. It’s about you.  I love ABC’s show Shark Tank.  Thank goodness I have a DVR so I can watch it and fast-forward through commercials.  Anyways, you hear some pretty wacky ideas on there, and some pretty good ones.  You can really tell who will succeed when you watch and listen to some of these presenter, nevermind their product.  I remember when I was in the Boy Scouts, I was at summer camp.  My friends and I started a “business” where we sold Magic Pens.  Magic Pens were nothing more than sharpened sticks with charred ends.  They let people write on the canvas of their tents and easily washed off.  We even dipped the end of the Pens in wax as a sign of authenticity and quality!  We sold them for a nickel with varying packages.  We ended the week with $10 in our pockets — enough to buy several slushies at the Trading Post.  Something so simple and silly that all of our customers knew how to make, but they still bought it to the tune of $10 (99% profit).  I didn’t know all the kids who bought the Magic Pens.  They bought because we did well marketing and selling charred sticks.  It’s about you… not necessarily your product.
  4. Be resilient.  And as David highlights, most startups fail.  Heck, Venture Capitalists pick 10 really, really good startups to fund with the hope that ONE of them will make it big. However, a key deciding factor of how a company will make it (potentially the ultimate) is the people.  Are they resilient?  Do those on the SharkTank take the hits and despite not getting love from the Sharks, do they learn, and are they passionate enough to succeed?  Spending weeks, months, or even years bootstrapping is one thing but once you launch, be resilient and focused to win.  Hear your customers, investors, and choose what you listen to.  Be resilient. Steve Jobs always had this notion that to succeed, you tell customers what they want.  Of course, you won’t succeed if you always ignore.  But you have to know which to listen to and what to file away.  J.K. Rowling pursued 12 publishers who all rejected her manuscript for Harry Potter before finding Bloomsbury.  I think she’s doing alright.

Like in grade school, “In conclusion…”, David’s got a great post about committing full-time to a project.  But if you’re a bootstrapper, you’re probably a bootstrapper for a lot of reasons, but make sure you’re learning along the way and you’re pushing the company and product as fast as you can.  This is especially true if you know this area is the next hot market — you don’t want to start competing against the world, afterall.  Just know that at some point, if you really want it to grow, you need to devote your time, energy, and love full-time.  The company is yours so it’s all about you and what you put into it, and how you can stay resilient to your product while knowing what to hear and what to listen to.  Like David said, it’s “tough” but he never said impossible.  

Strive for greatness fellow entrepreneurs!

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[1] Body Boss is a performance tracking application for sports teams and organizations.  Coaches can build customized workouts for their players to ensure workouts achieve fitness goals and beyond.  Body Boss creates social competition, continuously motivating and challenging players while driving accountability.  With Body Boss, coaches and players now have a competitive edge to win the battle off the field to deliver results on the field.Visit us at www.BodyBossFitness.com or contact us at info@bodybossfitness.com.


[2] David Cummings is a serial entrepreneur and investor in Atlanta, GA.  Mr. Cummings founded Hannon Hill and Pardot. Recently, Pardot was acquired by ExactTarget for $95.5MM.  You can view his blog here.