The only thing that keeps you going in a startup is the bond with your co-founders
In an organization that is very large and has existing businesses that have been running for a long time, you could have some not-so-great things happen in the top of the company, and it doesn't have as much impact. Maybe the employees aren't so happy, maybe they don't think so highly about their jobs, maybe they don't work as efficiently, but the company can keep plowing along. But, in the early days, you've got nothing. All you've got are problems—problems that need to be solved, obstacles that need to be overcome. You need to have an incredibly strong bond and an incredibly synchronized view of the world amongst the key players if you are going to succeed.
It's through curiosity and looking at opportunities in new ways that we've always mapped our path at Dell. There's always an opportunity to make a difference.
Peter Thiel spoke at YC he drew a Venn diagram that illustrates the situation perfectly. He drew two intersecting circles, one labelled "seems like a bad idea" and the other "is a good idea." The intersection is the sweet spot for startups. This concept is a simple one and yet seeing it as a Venn diagram is illuminating. It reminds you that there is an intersection—that there are good ideas that seem bad. It also reminds you that the vast majority of ideas that seem bad are bad.
I'm convinced that about half of what separates the successful entrepreneurs from the non-successful ones is pure perseverance. It is so hard. You put so much of your life into this thing. There are such rough moments in time that I think most people give up. I don't blame them. Its really tough and it consumes your life. If you've got a family and you're in the early days of a company, I can't imagine how one could do it. I'm sure its been done but its rough. Its pretty much an eighteen hour day job, seven days a week for awhile. Unless you have a lot of passion about this, you're not going to survive. You're going to give it up. So you've got to have an idea, or a problem or a wrong that you want to right that you're passionate about otherwise you're not going to have the perseverance to stick it through. I think that's half the battle right there.
When I meet with the founders of a new company, my advice is almost always, 'Do fewer things.' It's true of partnerships, marketing opportunities, anything that's taking up your time. The vast majority of things are distractions, and very few really matter to your success.