November 10, 2017

Is your passion hurting your startup?

A few days back, I read an article on Forbes. It reported that the 3rd most important reason why startups fail is “Not the right team”. What a revelation!

Founders of startups, when they begin, are so fuelled by their passion they work crazy hours. And it is perfectly understandable, given the faith they have in their idea, their product. If they had 50 hours a day, they’d still be craving for more, such is their passion!

I am aware passion is a wonderful thing, and an absolute must if you wish to succeed; there is no alternative to passion. In the history of mankind, no great task has ever been achieved without tons of passion.

But are you aware the same passion can sometimes hold you back in chains and can keep you from growing?

“I can do it better”

Startup founders are the ones who have found a solution to some tangible problem. Their solution is ingenious, inexpensive, easy, fast or novel in some way. In other words, founders are doing something better. Effectively, founders are pretty good with their core solutions.

And it’s here that the problem begins.

When founders hire people to grow their team, they often believe the people they’ve hired aren’t doing as a good a job as the founders themselves. So the founders put in more time and do the stuff themselves instead of getting it done by the new hires.

But they quickly reach a limit. There are only so many hours in a day, so the founders can’t afford doing everything themselves.

So what happens is they can never grow beyond a limit, because they aren’t delegating things right.

Here’s what you can do:

Instead of taking up everything, every activity, founders need to focus on the following.

  1. Get the right hires. Invest a lot of time and resources in hiring the right people. Having one great team-member is worth five or ten mediocre team-members. Make sure you get the right people, even if you have to wait. That also means you will need to understand the hiring process much better.
  2. Invest your time in training: No matter how good your new hire is, she will still need some training. The objective of the training is make the new hire familiar with your setup, the skill requirements and, most importantly, align her output with your vision.
  3. Be demanding, but also give time: Most likely, your startup is built around a new idea. There may be few, or may be zero, examples in past of how things can be done with such an idea. Hence the new hire will need some time figuring out things. Be demanding in the quality of output, but also be patient.
  4. Remember the whole is bigger than the parts: There might be times when you, as a founder, feel you could have come up with a better design, a better code, a better print than your hires. Hold yourself from doing everything yourself. If you think something can be improved, explain what can be done and get your team-members to do that; don’t do everything yourself. Sitting alone, you can never achieve much, so don’t rush burdening yourself with too many tasks.


As I said earlier, passion is a must for success. But don’t let your passion keep you, the startup founder, from delegating as many tasks as you can. Remember, you, as a founder, are a team-leader and your job is to explore newer ways of solving problems, networking, leading your team and scaling.

Instead of getting trapped into the mindset of doing everything yourself, learn to get the right people and get the best out of them. That way, you’ll be able to scale faster and work better. Good luck!

Deepak Bhatt is a communication, media engagement and publications professional. Currently he manages communication at the Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad (IIMA), one of Asia’s finest B-schools. He can be reached at

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