The Courage of Conviction

The other day I was talking with a potential investor in my fund, and in the course of the conversation I took a fairly strong position that was a little outside today’s conventional wisdom.  To which the potential investor said he really liked my conviction, which is something he looks for in fund managers.

Which got me thinking — conviction is something I look for as well in the entrepreneurs I back.  Duh, right?

But it’s not as simple as it sounds.

It’s an awesome thing that it has become as easy and cheap as it is to start a business. But one of the more subtle downsides, at least for an investor, is that it requires less conviction to be an entrepreneur.  Because the barriers are so low, the idea that it might be fun, interesting and/or cool to try a startup is enough of an incentive for many to give it a shot.  Which is fine — but it’s not the same as an entrepreneur who has a borderline manic drive to attain his or her vision. I once blogged about the traits of successful entrepreneurs overlap with the definition of hypomania.  And I still feel that way.  For me, you gotta be just crazy enough to believe you can do something nobody else on the planet has — or at least think you’re gonna die trying.

One Comment

  1. Posted August 16, 2012 at 6:06 pm | Permalink

    I would say conviction is likely correlated to what the entrepreneur’s product/market is. There are a lot of startups doing slightly tweaked versions of existing things. While there is nothing wrong with that, if these are UX-type companies without much R&D necessary, then the conviction can be much lower. You can prototype a product and test the market with 10s of thousands of dollars and a few months.

    Other products, however, may be vastly more complicated and take a bigger team months or years to even build. In those cases, conviction better be pretty f’ing high, especially when you’re bootstrapping it yourself 😉

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