Posts Tagged ‘37 Signals’

Slow and Steady vs Boom and Bust Entrepeneurship

Friday, April 22nd, 2011

Seems like Friday’s are when I get my biggest inspiration for posting on this site. I guess that Friday evening is the time that I don’t want to do other work and so I take a little bit of time to think and meditate on things. I think that actually works out quite well.

Tonight I’m thinking about how so many people out there can’t see the long term vision of slow and steady growth. Instead they want to go all out and either crash and burn or hit it big. I’m not saying that the second option is not a good option. In fact, there are hundreds and thousands of amazing businesses that have been built by that approach. I just don’t think I have the stomach for that approach.

Many people might immediately react that well then I must not be an entrepreneur. How could someone as risk averse as I really be an entrepreneur? Let alone an entrepreneur that is going to be successful. They likely then continue to say that my competitors are going to eat me alive. They’ll likely suggest that you have to go fast to stay ahead of the competition. Then, they start to equate “fast” to working long hours at the office, not having a life making the startup company your life, and all the other highly fantasized parts of building a startup company.

Luckily, I’m not alone in this belief. It just seems that very few people are willing to talk about it in public. The notion that you have to give your life to a company to be successful in business, while glamorous in a story about a company, also misses out on some of the best parts of life. I think that the guys behind 37 Signals cover this quite well in their book Rework. It’s quite possibly the best $13 gift my wife’s given me. Not only is it a quick read, but it covers the type of entrepreneurship that I enjoy doing. It exposes all the myths that exist and gives people like me freedom to believe in another path to fulfill my entrepreneurial itch.

That path to me is paved in the principle of slow and steady persistence. It’s lined with working smarter, not harder. It’s foundation requires the passion of the entrepreneur.

I won’t cover all the reasons why I think passion is essential, but imagine it this way. The frenetic boom or bust method of entrepreneurship doesn’t require the same level of passion. You’re moving so quickly that you have no choice. There’s always a zillion things to do and you never know which way is up. It’s fun, exciting and you’re hitting all sorts of interesting milestones all the time. They may not have been effective or efficient, but they were exciting and it’s easy to be passionate about exciting things.

Instead, the slow and steady method of entrepreneurship requires passion to keep going even when the progress you’re making is hard to quantify and hard to see. It requires a certain amount of faith and determination that as long as you persistently do a little bit more each day that the persistent hammering away will be rewarded in the long term. That doesn’t sound fun to most people. That’s why passion matters. When you’re working on something you’re really passionate about, you don’t need the outside acknowledgement that what you’re doing is cool. You’re doing it because you love it and you’d likely do it even if there wasn’t the gold at the end of the rainbow.

In fact, your passion for what you’re doing is so great, that it’s hard for you to even classify it as work because you enjoy doing it so much.

Compare that principle with the warp speed entrepreneurship that takes a big round of investment and wants to grow the company quickly to reach the day of harvest when they sell the company to someone else. I’m not saying this approach is bad or evil. It’s not.

It’s just unfortunate that this boom or bust mentality in entrepreneurship actually discourages so many would be entrepreneurs from pursuing their dreams. Persistent passion can often take you a lot farther than money. However, it takes remembering the long term perspective of the business. Many people might not enjoy the long slow ride that takes you to amazing heights. Although, I think many more would if we helped them understand principles of slow and steady entrepreneurship.