Why, in the face of such the statistically losing proposition, would someone want to start a company? And furthermore, why would they want to do it to themselves over and over again?
Am I some kind of sado-masochist, thriving on self-inflicted pain?
As I sit and ponder the answers I come up with a few ideas…
- To make a lot more money than I could with some other use of my efforts somewhere else during a comparable period of time.
- To pull myself out of a professional rut… that is, to see ideas through to completion… to gain professional recognition… to accept responsibility of success or failure for the full consequences of my ideas.
- To be my own boss, control my own destiny, set my own working schedule
- To prove to myself and everyone around me that I can do it.
- To advance technology, to advance society
- To develop and deploy talents I believe that I have outside of my specific area of specialization
- To demonstrate to someone with whom I intend to compete
Okay, so the list goes on and one.
The point being, there’s no solitary answer as to why a person wants to become an entrepreneur. I would say that most of the highly successful founders I know are motivated by #1 on the list, and somewhat to a lesser degree by #2.
The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable man attempts to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends upon the unreasonable man” – George Bernard Shaw
Let’s cut to the chase here. We can perfume and flower the reality with all kinds of socially amenable rationalizations. But the truth is, business comes down to money.
If it’s not profitable, it’s not a business. It’s something, but it’s not a business if it’s not creating value for the shareholders. That’s the principle objective of a business enterprise – to make money for the ownership.
So that being said, any other objective that an entrepreneur seeks to pursue will have a diluting effect on the central objective of creating value. If a business fails to derive a profit, then it will inevitably die. When the business dies, all other related objectives will be lost as well. And as business startups go, it will take most of a person’s focus and effort to keep the business alive.
Yes, it is all about cash flow and money.
Now I also don’t believe in any intrinsic relationship between the idea of a social conscience and entrepreneurial drive. If there were no individuals with both qualities, I doubt that much would be accomplished in society as a whole. People who start non-profit organizations and community groups are also entrepreneurial in the sense they envision an end result, and set about creating something where there was once nothing.
That isn’t to say greed and profit motive doesn’t play a major role in starting a business – because it certainly does. But many business enterprises are founded to accomplish certain social goals – and I refuse to accept the idea there’s a conflict between such a mission and the quest for profit. After all, social ends can be served even in the absence of an intent. To the extent that it creates jobs, incomes, and taxes, all business indirectly plays a very desireable and highly constructive role in society.
So yeah, I did it for the money. And lest we forget, it’s also a hell of a lot of fun.
If you love what you’re doing, it’s not really work. I do what I love, and I happen to get paid for it from time to time.