Is obsession necessary to start a company?


There are lots of answers here on OnStartups that imply or even outright state that one has to be obsessed to succeed with a startup. When I see "obsession", I hear "imbalance". Is it possible to be balanced in one's approach to creating a startup? Is it only possible to succeed if it is the absolute tippy top most important thing in one's life?


asked May 12 '11 at 05:35
Kenneth Vogt
2,917 points
  • The title differs form the content of the question - starting != "succeeding" - which in itself is very hard to define. – Tim J 13 years ago
  • By "succeed" I merely mean "survive" in this context. We are talking about "startups" here after all. – Kenneth Vogt 13 years ago

2 Answers


I'd say drive. I am working nights and weekends on a self-imposed deadline. I have four kids. You have to be driven to do this. My wife does call me crazy.

answered May 12 '11 at 06:32
Ron M.
4,224 points
  • Yeah man your wife sounds like a kind person. Most wives would have killed you by now if you have 4 kids and do startups on night and weekend ;) – Genadinik 13 years ago
  • I like that word "drive". It doesn't have the same crackpot connotations as some other words. I also like the concept of "self-imposed". It speaks not so much of necessity as of choice. – Kenneth Vogt 13 years ago
  • yeah.. you need drive when you're tired after 9 hours in the office, washed and kids, fed them, and now you wonder -- should I go crash till tomorrow morning (7am...) or do some HTML/CSS/PHP/JS/JQUERY/SQL..... till 2am. – Ron M. 13 years ago
  • 9 hours at the office? You are talking about half-days ;) – Genadinik 13 years ago
  • @genadinik hehe - I have to stay married ;-) sorry. – Ron M. 13 years ago


Insanity is a reflection of the amount of work that is usually necessary to create a real company.

The amount and scope is so unexpectedly huge that it takes an insane amount of work and drive.

There are always exceptions to every rule, but even if you succeed, and once you are doing well, so many people will try to copy you and out-work you, that you will have to work even harder then. It never ends. It is constant stress. If you are not crazy before, you will be crazy by the time it is all over - so that is something to look forward to :)

answered May 12 '11 at 05:56
1,821 points
  • This is what I mean. We hear words like "insanity" and "crazy" and "obsession" in association with startups all the time. Is this just hyperbole or do we really mean it? – Kenneth Vogt 13 years ago
  • @Kenneth It is true. I mean, there is only so much stress a person can deal with. If he quits, he keeps sanity. If he perseveres, the stress has a lasting effect. You don't have to be completely mental at the end, but your psyche and outlook of things do change. Making a company is a multi-year experience at the end of which you are different from when you started - in many ways good, in many ways bad. – Genadinik 13 years ago

Your Answer

  • Bold
  • Italic
  • • Bullets
  • 1. Numbers
  • Quote
Not the answer you're looking for? Ask your own question or browse other questions in these topics: