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Is your passion getting in your way?

Having attended the Mumbai OH last weekend, one thing that you couldn’t miss was the passion in the room. Both on stage, and in the audience, the passion and energy were extremely contagious…Recap by fellow Rodinhooders here and here, and I’m sure there’ll be more to come.

However, what I wanted to do today is start a conversation and have a contrarian view around something that you think is a must have in your business – “Passion”

So here it is:

As I was driving home that evening, and thinking of all the startups that presented, I felt there was at least one common string that tied them together (other than trying to raise money that is).

Being a 3rd person, and having an outside view of their businesses in 15-20 minutes, I know I could be totally wrong, but here’s what I felt:

Each one of them was so deeply passionate about their businesses, that they were unable to see things that were obvious in front of them or in the periphery. It was like, passion was bordering on denial.

I know, that’s a little strong statement…so let me back that up with questions that we can use as a basis of discussion in the comments section below:

  1. Are you so focused on customer service and making the customer happy, that you start losing sight on what it costs to do that, and whether it’s sustainable?
  2. While you may be extremely good at what you do, and hence the reason for starting your own venture…have you been able to build a team around you that’s equally good (if not more) in serving your customers, so that you can focus on other things?
  3. When was the last time you did anything to make yourself redundant from the business? I understand that delegation and allocating tasks to other employees comes over a period of time, however, the earlier you can start stepping away from day to day operations, the earlier you would be able to focus on the long term vision
  4. Does your passion (intangible) translate into key benefits (tangible) for your customers, something that differentiates your product / services from your competitors, and builds a significant entry barrier for competition?
  5. Finally, keeping passion constant, are you continuously iterating your business models to the changing environment around you?

I’ll conclude by saying that, while a lot of us start our businesses because we’re passionate about something…not each one of us is suited to take it to the next level. In cases like these, maybe think of having one of your other co-founders, or hiring an external resource to run the business, while you keep focused on doing things you do well.

PS: To all presenters: I truly respect you going on stage and discussing your startup challenges, and I hope this post gives you another perspective.




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  1. omg vikram!!!

    it’s like this post talked to me. 

    wow. i’m gonna do some major introspection!!

  2. This is so awesome!

  3. Vikram bhai,

    Solid views, I think I had a few points in mind as to stepping out of the day to day activities but will surely have to keep an eye as to when and where and how.

    Your points are really like a boon to the start-ups.

    Thank You,


    Karan Pandhi

  4. Thanks Asha.

  5. Thanks Alok.

  6. Thanks Karan.

  7. Thanks Vikram.

    I am now in point 3, making myself redundant.

    I never thought about Point 4: Does your passion (intangible) translate into key benefits (tangible) for your customers, something that differentiates your product / services from your competitors, and builds a significant entry barrier for competition?

    In the needy environment of survival, sometimes one loses track of the big picture 🙂



  8. One of the most succinct posts I have read in recent times. Great read sir.  A lot to think about now 🙂

  9. A disclaimer – This is MY two bit and I mean no disrespect or offence to anyone, but feel that i need to voice my opinion here as someone who is a “passionate” start-up entrepreneur.

    Here are my views:

    If I wasn’t passionate, I wouldn’t be on stage at all. I would be reading about the OH on this blog. Who says that every passion has to be profitable to be a success?

    If Larry & Serge at Google had not been passionate at becoming THE place for search, and looked at profits only, they would be what they are today.
    Same goes for Steve Jobs. The man was as passionate about building giving the world extraordinary experiences and that’s what he did.
    Take twitter and reddit. They still don’t have “profitable” businesses, but, they do have the voice to change the world.
    The common thread in it all. Be passionate about building a great thing and profit (whether in money or success) will follow. All the above mentioned did not start with profit in mind.

    Not everyone has a perfect marriage or finds the right one. Same goes for co-founders. At least for partners, we now have sites to scan through. That’s not how it works with co-founders. And only a fool would not look for someone who would share their passion, bear the weight of the start-up struggle with them and hold their hand in tough times? The sad part is, the “right” one is VERY tough to find. And if I compromise, then I constantly at battle, just like in a bad marriage. 
    Same goes for team. I do know to delegate, but to hire good people, I need to pay them good money. And since I don;t have it at the moment, I am forced to do things on my own.
    So yes, we do know the importance of support and we are waiting for the right people to come along.

    Redundant: Well if at the start-up stage I make myself redundant in the enterprise, what am I doing here??!!

    Long term: Yes, at some point when i am able to, I would be happy to hire the best and run my business for me, so that I can take pleasure in reaping the benefits of what I have built, but at this stage, if I am redundant, I should trash this idea!

    Benefits/continuously iterating: yes, I agree that whatever I do should be of benefit in some form for someone. And if I am a good entrepreneur, I will continue to mould myself to changing times and circumstances.

    So, my humble two bit – If I am passionate about building something spectacular, I will strive for it to be the best and will find only the best to support me with it. And be rest assured that if it is that good and I give it my all, it WILL see success.

  10. Thanks Kunal.

  11. It was a pleasure seeing you on stage, and a pleasure to read your views. Thanks for sharing your perspective.

  12. The comic strip says it all! It is indeed an Oxymoron. I have often thought about this and there is no clear answer to this question. However, if passion was to be governed by things profitable or relevant, then the word “passion” would be meaningless. There are several times when people start a new business, it is not necessarily a new concept or idea; what matters is their approach, their execution of an existing idea & this is governed by their passion! It is just that at times, a person is lucky that passion meets “paisa” perfectly & the business is profitable..

    A person first HAS to be blinded by passion to start & then achieve something. Nothing else is as convincing..

  13. Thanks for sharing your views Jitendra.

  14. Awesome read!

    All growth stage entrepreneurs would be able to relate to this (Especially the ones in the service industry).

  15. hey vikram,

    we missed having you around at the last month’s OH 🙁

    do update us on what’s happening at your end!

  16. Cannot vouch for the viability of this practice but LAZY LEADERSHIP seems interesting:

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