Entrepreneurs Love Their Startups Like Parents Love Their Children

May 17, 2017

3:30 pm

Love is a big part of being an entrepreneur. With it, you can conquer stressful investor meetings, eccentric employee interviews, and unimpressive projection numbers without batting an eye. But without it, you’re chance of success are limited, as passion and commitment are integral to the entrepreneurial process. And if you think this love is second only to the love between a parent and a child, you’re half right.

According to a recent study out of Aalto University, parental and entrepreneurial love are one in the same when it comes to brain chemistry and emotional experience. The study was very comprehensive, covering everything from sensitivity in threatening situations to elation in response to reward, leading researchers to determine that startups, like children, illicit quite the emotional response in their founders and parents.

“Our results are among the first to address the brain basis of entrepreneurship and they show that the strong attachment entrepreneurs can have to their venture is reflected in the same brain areas as the attachment between a parent and a child,” wrote Marja-Liisa Halko, Tom Lahti, Kaisa Hytönen, and Iiro P. Jääskeläinen, the authors of the study.

By showing founders pictures of their companies along side similar companies, while simultaneously showing fathers pictures of their children along side other children, researchers were able to deduce a notable similarity in their brain activity. The study thoroughly dives into the various parts of the brain and their level of activity during the study, but I’m no brain surgeon, so you’ll just have to read for yourself.

One In the Same

If you’re a parent, this kind of study might be hard to swallow. After all, you’ve lost sleep, foregone a personal life, and spent quite a bit of money into your child’s success. Running a company couldn’t possibly compare to raising an actual, living, breathing human being.

Actually, it’s almost exactly like that. Entrepreneurship is built on a foundation of burning the midnight oil, missing social gatherings, and investing capital in something you want to succeed more than anything else in the world. Like it or not, entrepreneurs are just as much a parent as you are, outside of changing diapers.

Love Is Blind

While the parental love felt by entrepreneurs is kind of cute, according to the study, it might not be good for business. Just like someone in a toxic long term relationship, entrepreneurs are more inclined to ignore red flags and sweep problems under the rug because “that’s my baby.”

“Entrepreneurs ‘in love’ rely on their subjective beliefs represented in ‘an inside view’ which perceives the details of one’s own firm as unique and ignore or underweight objective information that may undermine these beliefs,” wrote the authors of the study.

Love is rarely a bad thing. It motivates us to accomplish incredible feats of innovation in the face of insurmountable odds.  However, it’s important to remember that love, on more than one occasion, has led to a few poor choices in the history of humanity. So let your love guide those decisions that require passion, but don’t let it weigh in when you need to make the hard decisions.

Read more about being an entrepreneur here on Tech.Co

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Conor is a writer, comedian and world-renowned sweetheart. As the Senior Writer at Tech.Co, he’s written about everything from Kickstarter campaigns and budding startups to tech titans and innovative technologies. His background in stand-up comedy made him the perfect person to host Startup Night at SXSW and the Funding Q&A at Innovate! and Celebrate, posing questions to notable tech minds from around the world. In his spare time, he thinks about how to properly pronounce the word “colloquially.”

Conor is the Senior Writer at Tech.Co. You can email him at [email protected].

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