Reboot Podcast Episode #146 – The Cost of Failure – with Tom Eisenmann

The Reboot podcast showcases the heart and soul, the wins and losses, the ups and downs of startup leadership. On the show, Entrepreneurs, CEO’s, and Startup Leaders discuss with Jerry Colonna the emotional and psychological challenges they face daily as leaders.


Tom Eisenmann

Tom Eisenmann

Author & Professor of Business Administration at the Harvard Business School

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Episode Description

What are the factors that contribute to the failure of almost 90% of startup ventures? In this episode, Jerry sits down with author and Harvard Business School professor Tom Eisenmann to discuss the patterns that often precipitate the vast majority of startup failures. The pair take a closer look at how the advice to “fail fast” often leads founders to false start — risking capital and time on the wrong solutions. They shine a light on the pressure founders feel to grow the business rapidly, the lionization of venture capital, and the true human cost of failure.  

Why Startups Fail: A New Roadmap for Entrepreneurial Success | e-Dreams Documentary


Show Highlights

Top Quotes:

“Growth is how a lot of entrepreneurs keep score, but it’s only after the fact that they see how risky that is. A cliche baseball analogy is they’re being asked to swing for the fences, and when you try to hit home runs, you strike out a lot.” – Tom Eisenmann

“There are lots of other ways to fund a business out there, and probably more entrepreneurs should be looking at those other ways.” – Tom Eisenmann

“I think the bias for action is what leads to the false start.” – Tom Eisenmann 

“A container without good content is meaningless, and content without a good container is useless. And so the very difficult job of building a successful company is to actually do something that has meaning, but actually do it well.” – Jerry Colonna

“The failing process is incredibly pressure-packed and painful.” – Tom Eisenmann

“If you’re an entrepreneur, your identity is often the company and vice versa.” – Tom Eisenmann

“You cannot be an entrepreneur unless you have the capacity to see the potential failure. Failure of the enterprise is not a failure of me.” – Jerry Colonna

“The people who have the greatest sense of an inner sense of self, the greatest sense of being able to see the intrinsic things that motivate them separate from the extrinsic sources of motivation, can separate those two are the most likely to be able to fit into that category we call resilient, and able to figure out the next thing that I want to do, whether it’s a startup or not, after the failure.” – Jerry Colonna