Fred Wilson wrote a post yesterday talking about Mission Based Businesses and how critical passion is to building a successful business.
Which comes first? Passion for a great mission or a successful business?
Conventional wisdom is that passion comes first (or is more important). I have a different point of view.
For every great business, there are countless well meaning, passionate entrepreneurs who don't make it.
Even great entrepreneurs can lose their passion. Tony Hseih, CEO of Zappos, is a great entrepreneur. In his book, Delivering Happiness, he shares how he lost passion for LinkExchange, his first startup, before selling to Microsoft.
There are good businesses and bad ones. One saying we have at Altos is "it's hard to fall in love with a crappy business."
To remain passionate, it's critical that you build a successful business. You will find that it is easier to fall in love with the business and love what you do.
I've observed many companies start with great missions that go nowhere. I've also seen companies grow their aspirations and missions to something far bigger than they had imagined in the beginning.
Rather than spending much time thinking about a mission to inspire employees and customers you don't yet have, focus on delivering a great product or service. Build a successful business. It all starts there.
Entrepreneurs like Bill Hewlett and David Packard did not set out to change the world. They just wanted to work together. They built a product and started selling. They had no business plan. No grand mission. They took it one step at a time.
One final word about passion and love. The love you feel for a startup is like the passion in a new relationship. Such passion is intense but it can fade away.
What you want is the type of passion that grows in a great marriage. Marriage is tough. You have to work hard at it and you will go through many ups and downs. But in the end, you just might find true love.