Originally published in FullStart.
There are many great reasons to pursue entrepreneurship—with the most important reason being that you have a real solution to a real problem, an idea for something that can improve a situation and, consequently, improve people’s lives.
But there are a whole host of bad reasons that motivate people to pursue entrepreneurship. If any of the reasons below resonate with you—if these are your motivation for starting your own company—you may want to think again.
1. You’re in it for the money. Sure, you want money. Who doesn’t? But becoming an entrepreneur primarily because you are motivated by money is misguided—and you’re likely to be disappointed. Founding a company, as a money-making strategy is simply not a great plan. We all know that many businesses fail (I’ll try not to be too pessimistic here and say “most”). If you’re in it just for the money, you’re not focusing your energy appropriately: you need to focus on selling your product/service, not on selling your business. The truth is that many entrepreneurs wind up funneling their own savings into their businesses, taking pay cuts to pursue their dream, and not pulling a salary for years. If you just want money, get a good job instead.
2. You don’t want to be accountable to anyone. The idea that entrepreneurship affords total autonomy and freedom (in any sense of that word) is a joke. Sure, you get to call some of the shots and determine the direction of your company in ways that you may not be able to if you were working for someone else, but believe me…you are still accountable. You’re accountable to your employees, those people who trust in you and your business enough to work for you and come along for the ride. You’re accountable to your family for making sure that they are taken care of even while you take this more risky life path. You’re accountable to your customers to ensure that you hear them and that what you’re providing satisfies their needs. You’re accountable to your startup ecosystem, leaning on your community for support at the same time as you practice reciprocity, offering up your own support. You may never be more accountable than when you’re the CEO of your own company.
3. You’re sick of your current job and looking for a change. Starting your own company is a change alright, and an exciting one at that. If you’re looking for a cure for boredom, founding a company will do the trick. But being sick of your job is not a solid foundation for building a successful company. You need a lot more than that to really make it as an entrepreneur. You need passion for what you’re running towards, not just passion for what you’re running away from.
4. You want to be the next Steve Jobs (or fill in the blank with your own rock star entrepreneur). It’s okay to model yourself after the greats. If you’re inspired by other successful entrepreneurs and what they are able to accomplish, that’s a noble aspiration. But if you conflate what entrepreneurs do with who they are—and are in it to become a brand in and of yourself—that’s focusing your energy on the wrong things. If you’re more interested in working on developing your personal brand than developing a company, being a founder is not for you.
Starting a business takes passion, focus, and persistence. It’s a commitment. If you’re not “all in,” you’re not going to make it. Ultimately, you need to be able to solve a problem, create a plan, and work towards executing—those things need to excite you. That’s the truth about being an entrepreneur. And that’s what motivates the best of them.
What motivates you to be an entrepreneur? Tell us about it in comments below.
David Ehrenberg is the founder and CEO of Early Growth Financial Services, an outsourced financial services firm that provides small to mid-sized companies with day-to-day accounting, strategic finance, CFO, tax, and valuation services and support. He’s a financial expert and startup mentor, whose passion is helping businesses focus on what they do best. Follow David @EarlyGrowthFS.