What are your hobbies outside of business hours?
A few popular answers to this question:
- Watching TV series all day long
- Traveling around the country (and abroad)
- Binge-eating all sorts of delicious food
Now imagine you were getting paid for that. Full-time. No regular job, that’s what you have to do for a living.
- You get to watch the latest series most of the time. You run a funded movie production company or a popular YouTube network earning advertising revenue.
- You run a (whatever) type of company that’s wildly popular so you are a keynote speaker at 40 different countries every year, with a couple days chilling in-between.
- You are a food critic or a reputable winery owner who gets complimentary food at tons of partner restaurants, top-notch food.
It doesn’t quite work like this for the most part. Most definitely not during the first 4–5 years.
Investing 2x or even longer for a while in a profitable venture that you enjoy will scale quickly. You can easily offload most of your responsibilities in various ways, such as hiring a general manager or another CEO, onboarding other top-level C-suite folks, and generally, keep the boat running while showing up on TV and radio shows.
Or you can sell your company for $50M, invest some of that, and live comfortably in the interim.
This makes a total sense if you’re in charge of operations, own a business you enjoy, want to see it grow, provide employment opportunities to hundreds or thousands of employees, assist your peers or family financially, get to start a couple side gigs (like opening a bar or a restaurant) that you enjoy every now and then.
Alternatively, you can work a tedious, boring job with micromanagers breathing down your neck for the next 40 years.
You get yelled at work or fired every now and then. Eating at top restaurants isn’t an option more than once a week. Your travel only includes going to the shopping mall for junk food and clothing. You fall asleep in front of the TV every evening after a hell of a day at work.
There are thousands of reasons why people start their own firms and want to scale. While the common perception may be that the quest for financial gains primarily drives entrepreneurs, the truth is often more nuanced.
- Passion: Many entrepreneurs are driven by a passion for a particular field, idea, or cause. This emotional connection to their work provides the energy and perseverance to overcome obstacles and challenges.
- Autonomy: Strong motivators are the desire for independence and the freedom to make decisions. Having one’s own firm allows individuals to take charge of their destiny and steer the course of their professional lives.
- Legacy: Building a business is about creating a lasting legacy for some. It’s about shaping an organization that will continue to make an impact long after they’ve moved on.
- Profit and Wealth: This is the most prominent and often-cited reason. The financial gains from owning a successful firm can be substantial.
- Resource Access: Having your firm often gives you access to resources you wouldn’t otherwise have, whether capital, a talented workforce, or specialized tools and technologies.
Popularity and Recognition
- Industry Status: Being the owner of a successful firm can elevate one’s status within the industry. This is particularly appealing to those who seek recognition and validation from peers.
- Personal Branding: Scaling a firm can also significantly boost the founder’s personal brand, making them more influential and opening up additional opportunities.
- Social Impact: Some individuals are motivated by the opportunity to make a meaningful social impact. They see business as a tool for addressing social issues, whether it’s through sustainable practices, charitable contributions, or social entrepreneurship.
- Community Building: For some entrepreneurs, the business serves as a platform to enrich and uplift their community, whether it’s by creating jobs, fostering talent, or contributing to local initiatives.
- Diversification: Owning a firm can provide the resources and stability to invest in other ventures, thus spreading risk and increasing the potential for reward.
- Networking: Scaling a business opens up opportunities for high-level networking that would take much work to come by otherwise. This can include partnerships, joint ventures, or collaborations that extend the firm’s reach and impact.
- Market Position: A scaled firm can often command a more influential market position, allowing it to shape industry trends, influence policy, or negotiate favorable terms with suppliers and partners.
Each founder’s reasons are shaped by their unique experiences, values, and aspirations, making the entrepreneurial journey deeply personal. Whether it’s the pursuit of financial success, the desire for independence, a commitment to social impact, or a combination of these, understanding these motivations is crucial for both the individual and the ecosystem that supports them.
Not everyone is suited to (or should) be a CEO of a large corporation. Most can’t make it work. Many don’t enjoy the stress and responsibilities.
But does it make sense for the rest? Of course, it does.