You can’t be a burning entrepreneur unless you’re “all in” with your decisions and commitment. Forget about the way you hedged your bets when you worked for someone else. You must eliminate the hesitation (even if it’s a 1% hesitation) bred in the corporate world. Being 99% certain is not good enough. A burning entrepreneur can hold nothing back!

I heard a great phrase: “he’s a 99% committer.” It was in the context of trying to get something to closure where I felt like someone had committed but it was ambiguous. The person ultimately committed and all was good, but there was some question about outcome for a few days. To be clear, I separate this from a process issue, where the person is on board personally but going through an internal process with a partnership, an investment committee, or a decision-making group. Rather, I’m focusing on the person who is able to make a unilateral decision, gets 99% of the way there, and then leaves it a little open.


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You can’t be a burning entrepreneur unless you’re “all in” with your decisions and commitment. Forget about the way you hedged your bets when you worked for someone else. You must eliminate the hesitation (even if it’s a 1% hesitation) bred in the corporate world. Being 99% certain is not good enough. A burning entrepreneur can hold nothing back!

I heard a great phrase: “he’s a 99% committer.” It was in the context of trying to get something to closure where I felt like someone had committed but it was ambiguous. The person ultimately committed and all was good, but there was some question about outcome for a few days. To be clear, I separate this from a process issue, where the person is on board personally but going through an internal process with a partnership, an investment committee, or a decision-making group. Rather, I’m focusing on the person who is able to make a unilateral decision, gets 99% of the way there, and then leaves it a little open.

Now, I’m not criticizing the 99% committer — it’s a very effective style for some people as it generates a lot of control and option value in situations. Specifically, from a control perspective, by not fully committing the 99% committer gets to keep playing out things on the edges, poking, prodding, and getting more information. As long as the other party doesn’t disengage, this is effective, although it definitely runs the risk of creating real fatigue on both parties.

Furthermore, there is a lot of option value associated with being a 99% committer. You are almost there, but you stall, so the other party feels compelled to give you more information and hold the door open as long as they can.

But this isn’t me. And when I reflect on the few cases where I’ve played the role of a 99% committer, although I’m not unhappy with the outcome, I’m annoyed with my own behavior. By not being a 99% committer, I’m always able to make a decision, deal with the consequences (good or bad), and move on. As a result, the velocity of what I get done is extremely high and I have very little emotional decision-backlog stored up.

Comment by Fred Davis
Right on! An entrepreneur who isn't 100% (or 1000%!) isn't really an entrepreneur... they're an employee.
July 2011
Comment by Tim Rohde
"99% committers," as you describe them, can ruin a startup. A decision is a type of work. A 99% commitment is work in process - the most expensive load on a production cycle.
July 2011
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