Entrepreneurs make bad step-parents

June 9th, 2013 → 7:55 am @

I was working with a young entrepreneur recently.  The formula looked simple…. The business model had been proven by a founder who wanted to move on to a different venture,   the young entrepreneur had come in to build the company after already having success in getting another similar start-up going, so there was no reason why this new business couldn’t get going quickly.  But it didn’t.

For several months one problem after another, and one delay after another, came up.  Eventually the business got into serious trouble, and the entrepreneur left.   The original founder stepped back in and fixed the problems within a few days.

In the early days the entrepreneur’s stories had sounded plausible as various reasons for the recurring problems were given, but towards the end the explanations sounded more like the excuses of a demotivated employee with no initiative.  The founder’s intervention had proven that the business model was not at fault, but I found it hard to accept that the entrepreneur’s behaviour had changed so quickly.  It had.  Despite expressing initial enthusiasm, the entrepreneur had never really ‘owned’ the business… not being the founder seemed to remove any sense of commitment, and I should have realised it earlier.

A big clue came when the entrepreneur had suddenly taken up a very time-demanding sport.  I had allowed myself to be reassured that it was all about keeping fit, but by the time the pack of cards crashed down the sport was clearly more important than the business.

The experience reminded me that entrepreneurs don’t often make good step-parents to a business.  If it’s not their ‘baby’, they soon lose the hunger to keep it going.


Entrepreneur behavior