All or nothing. Death or glory. Who dares wins. That, in my opinion, is the only way to be a successful entrepreneur. The answer? Dedication.

Startups and the delicate issue of dedication

In an age of side hustles, jobs on the side and part-time revenue streams, this may seem a controversial thing to say. But for me, to use a popular British phrase, you cannot simply do it half-arsed. And by it, I mean build, and scale up a startup. Or any business. Or, in other words, to be an entrepreneur in its purest form.

You have to use your whole arse. In other words, have dedication.

Dedication to the cause

I know too many people who “began a startup” in parallel to their 9-to-5 job or alongside some other professional activity. But I do not know anyone who managed to achieve their goal or something worthwhile in doing so.

Even if there are a few who do make it in this way, they are the exceptions to the rule. Success may require several things, including slices of luck, but first and foremost the most important is absolute dedication.

Yes, I’m sorry if this sounds like bad news to some but sometimes the truth hurts. A lot. So, focus my dear friends. Absolute focus and persistence. And success, that thing we all crave, will come sooner rather than later or never.

After posting something similar on LinkedIn recently, a friend of mine made the following comment:

OK, so how do you leave a 9-7 (it’s never 5) job without any capital to live on, AND built your startup?

My response to this observation is clear:

The above view is the most classic excuse we hear time and again. Unfortunately, however, in my opinion, it is exactly that. An excuse. For me, building and scaling up a startup means the following:

  • The launch of any serious business activity means taking risks. As is logical, not all people are made for it. Not everyone can be an entrepreneur. If the risk factor holds you back, then you just do not go ahead with it. You don’t have to make this choice, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.
  • In the most likely scenario, where you do have a small amount of capital to get started (note that by using methodologies such as Lean Startup, Customer Development etc., the amount of necessary capital is often small), then the solution is obvious. You work for a short period and then you save. And repeat. You also seek out one or two people with whom you share the same vision and bring them in to do the same. Put in all of your own money, go to relatives and friends, AKA “The 3 F’s”, and get what you can from them to keep going. With what you collect, you start the company, and reduce your personal expenses to the utmost minimum. Practice the lost art of capital efficiency.

Dedication by default

I’ll be brutally honest. Following this course of action is not easy. I think that is painfully obvious. It’s often said that if you want something, you have to work 10 times as hard to get it. There are no overnight successes. This is a popular notion because it’s true. You need dedication by default.

In conclusion then, the bad news is that it is not easy to dedicate yourself totally and utterly to your cause, or your business. But, the good news is, it is entirely feasible! So let’s say this: the most important decision about your career as an entrepreneur is more about what you will not do, rather than what you will do.

One thing is certain. Either you will create a startup, or have a full-time job. You can’t do both and be successful.


Dimitris Tsingos Dimitris Tsingos

The Starttech Ventures Founder. Tech entrepreneur. Passionate European federalist. Dimitris has been the President of YES for Europe - European Confederation of Young Entrepreneurs [2011-15], the Founder of the Hellenic Start-up Association [2011], Board Member at EBAN - The European Business Angel Network [2014-17], 40-under-40 European Young Leader [2012-13], Marshall Memorial Fellow [2018] and a Fellow of IHEIE/PSL [2019].