Monday, August 08, 2011

The Power of Love (And Investors)

In this post, I'll argue that the power of love comes mostly from stuff that doesn't happen, and for bonus points, explain how my theory of love impacts how a startup should choose its investors.

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My life is filled with love. I have family, friends, and last but not least (okay, maybe least) you, my blog readers. I've commented that I already have everything that money *can't* buy, which means that at this point, I'm basically working so that someday I'll be able to take naps whenever I want.

Then I thought to myself, "On a practical level, how is my life different from someone who is completely unloved?"

Sure, love means having people who care about you, but what is its practical impact? If I suffer some stroke of ill fortune, my loved ones would help and support me, but if my life rolls along without major disaster, having their love doesn't seem like it would affect my life.

Yet being loved most certainly does have an impact, even if you aren't getting concrete aid from it. Happiness research shows that close relationships are the major source of satisfaction in our lives.

It seems like the fact that simply the *potential* for loved ones to intervene in our lives produces a big boost in well-being. Take a moment and think about the people you love...don't you feel happier? And if a loved one tells you, "I love you," don't you feel fulfilled?

In that sense, most of love's impact comes from mere potentiality, not concrete action. Yet that doesn't mean we shouldn't seek it out. For one thing, most of us do suffer misfortune at some point in our lives; at that point, we'll appreciate our loved ones even more for their support. For another, the everyday boost we get simply from knowing that there's someone who's got our back probably has a major impact on productivity and achievement.

And that's where the power of investors comes in. If everything goes right for your startup, it doesn't really matter who you have as an investor. All our money is green, and one dollar is the same as another. The concrete benefits of having experienced, supportive investors only manifest themselves when times are tough. That's when good investors roll up their sleeves and open their wallets, and bad investors are suddenly unreachable.

But if we use my theory of love as an analogy, there's a benefit simply in knowing you've picked investors who will have your back.

Each day, your startup will face minor crises and setbacks--nothing big enough to get even a supportive investor involved. Yet if you know you have good investors behind you, you can quickly shrug off these issues, much like someone whose life is filled with love can shrug off minor nuisances like parking tickets.

In startups, success often follows emotion. Startups are like balloons that float along on the belief of their employees; if the people involved stop believing, you'll start losing altitude quickly. Good investors can help you succeed in good times as well as bad times, simply because their faith in you gives you faith in yourself.

So if investors are like loved ones, choose carefully. The Beatles may not have been 100% correct when they sang, "All you need is love"--after all, you need a great team, a solid business model, and traction--but they may be more on target than you think.

2 comments:

Jackie D said...

For those of us not helming a start-up, I'd say this also applies to employers. Let's face it, if you're making six figures in one company, you can probably make six figures in a lot of companies. No employer can afford to win only on price if they want longterm success and a team that sticks with it and gives there all. They have to show me the money and show me the love, too. (Love is also what made my favorite start-up experiences worthwhile, even apart from the eventual exit. Money can be spent, love just grows if you put it to use.)

Chris said...

Great point, Jackie. A loving employer or manager has a massive impact on productivity.