Why Startup Leaders Fail: Boredom

Bored + busy is a bad combo

Joe Procopio


image by drazen zigic

Yeah. I’m not kidding about this one. The boredom fail is real. But it’s not what you think. It’s not sitting around waiting for orders to come in. It’s sneakier than that.

In fact, it might be happening to you right now without you realizing it, because you’re too busy.

Doing boring shit.

Bored + Busy is a Bad Sign

Last week, as I was doing research to answer a question for an entrepreneur about whether or not she should shut down her startup, I needed a second opinion. So I jumped on the phone with a serial entrepreneur who, like me, has started more than several companies in her past.

I gave her the details and asked her flat out: “What are the signs you look for that make you think about quitting on your startup idea?”

She thought about it, but not for long, and said, “You know, it’s when I’m incredibly busy and also incredibly bored.”

Her answer hit me like a ton of bricks, because me too.

Your Work Is Not Your Vocation

But wait, isn’t busy a good thing?

Of course it is. We’re all busy, all the time, and busy is good. It means there’s work to do, and a lot of it. Maybe more than we can handle.

Boredom is bad. That’s another no-brainer. We’ve all been there as well, and it’s almost always when we’re working for someone else.

We do the same thing, over and over again, with some vague notion that what we’re doing is making the company and the world a better place. But that’s the nature of work. We’re earning a paycheck and living a vocation, getting better at what we do in an effort to… get better at what we do.

Vocation is not a concept to be taken lightly. Our vocation is not our job, and it’s not our work, it’s what drives us. We’re not “flipping burgers,” we’re cooks and chefs. We’re not “turning wrenches,” we’re auto mechanics. We’re not “keyboard jockeys,” we’re software developers.

How much we lean into one side or the other is usually on us, until it isn’t. And that’s usually the moment an entrepreneur becomes an…



Joe Procopio

I'm a multi-exit, multi-failure entrepreneur. NLG pioneer. Building TeachingStartup.com & GROWERS. Write at Inc.com and BuiltIn.com. More at joeprocopio.com