Behold the burning entrepreneur. Everything you’ve heard about leaders of successful startups is true. They are a different kind of people. However, don’t think X-Men (or should I have said Johnny Storm of the Fantastic Four?). Burning entrepreneurs don’t have mutant strands of DNA. They aren’t born to greatness. Their qualities are learned and practiced. That means you can be a burning entrepreneur too.

I’ve had the thrill and honor of observing hundreds of entrepreneurs and funding many of the best. After starting companies myself, I decided I never wanted to climb out of the trenches. This has allowed me to see the components of successful entrepreneurialism in myself and others. There are common elements and repeated motifs.


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Behold the burning entrepreneur. Everything you’ve heard about leaders of successful startups is true. They are a different kind of people. However, don’t think X-Men (or should I have said Johnny Storm of the Fantastic Four?). Burning entrepreneurs don’t have mutant strands of DNA. They aren’t born to greatness. Their qualities are learned and practiced. That means you can be a burning entrepreneur too.

I’ve had the thrill and honor of observing hundreds of entrepreneurs and funding many of the best. After starting companies myself, I decided I never wanted to climb out of the trenches. This has allowed me to see the components of successful entrepreneurialism in myself and others. There are common elements and repeated motifs.

You need passion and control. How do you combine such different qualities? Be in love with your business and don’t halt your commitment at 99%. You need to be a different type of leader. How do you accomplish this “easier-said-than-done” mission? Make everyone in your organization the CEO of his/her job and tune out the distractions of bubble predictors, Wall Street palm readers, and other extraneous naysayers. Want to blow away your customers? Focus on your product and replace stale marketing with people-oriented demand generation. Are money worries strangling your muse? Manage your financiers AND your finances.

There’s a reason so many rock songs are about fire and burning (and you thought it was all about sex and cars). Think 1965: the Beatles have established the beachhead and the Stones, The Who and everyone else waving a Union Jack and a Rickenbacker is charging in. So play today’s rock and roll. Join the startup invasion. Start burning!

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