Thursday, April 12, 2012

Why Do You Want to Start a Business-Really?

So many want to start businesses but never really ask themselves why--really. Is it possible to achieve the things you expect to get from owning your own business without actually going into business? If so, why even bother? It must be about more than making money or prestige. Few successful entrepreneurs started out doing it for the money. If you are starting from that vantage point, you may be in for a rocky road.

1. Don't Do it for the Money

Most people just don't get this part, but money does not flow like honey in the early days of a startup, especially a business that requires inventory. A web or service based business with very little overhead may do a little better but will still need to reinvest the majority of profits back into the business. Granted, I have made a very good living as an entrepreneur over the years with what is primarily a service based business. All of the "visual" trappings of how most of us define success. However, this took a long time to achieve and behind the veil of success are many sleepless nights, phone calls from creditors and pay less pay days. I have experiences that I would not wish on my worst enemy, yet I continue. Why? Because it was never about the money. There are many ways to earn lots of money without going through the pain of entrepreneurship. If money is your primary focus, I suggest you find another way of getting it.

2. Don't Do it for the Prestige

There's is nothing like walking on a car lot, picking out the vehicle of your choice and writing a check. Been there. Done that. I didn't do this to brag about it or to pretend to be something I am not. In fact, very few people even know about this because I keep it to myself (except for now obviously). However, this is not what entrepreneurship is all about. It is not about big homes and fancy cars or the lofty title of "Entrepreneur." For you will eventually hit a wall and may even come crashing down. I know many entrepreneurs who experienced tremendous success followed by very dramatic (and public) crashes. Some of them lost everything. In fact, the most successful entrepreneurs go broke multiple times before finally hitting their stride. So, forget about prestige for it is here one day and gone the next. You will need something to carry you through when all you have are your ideas and little else.

3. Don't Do it for the "Freedom"

If it is freedom you are looking for, you may want to look elsewhere. Entrepreneurs work ridiculous hours, often without drawing a salary. If it is freedom from a boss that you seek, forget it. Entrepreneurs have several bosses in the form of customers. Each of them requires something different to please them. Compare this to having a single boss at a job that you can forget about at 5pm.

Go Change the World

I am not talking about bringing peace to the Middle East. Changing the world can be something as little as wanting those in far out rural towns to have access to quality goods at affordable prices. This was the vision of Sam Walton when he launched what we know today as Walmart. It can be something as little as wanting a place to go after work other than a bar or a club--a "third place" between work and home. That was the vision of Howard Shultz of Starbucks. He wanted the feel of the authentic Italian coffee shop and a comfortable place where people could unwind before heading home. Then, there is Sara Blake of Spanx. She just wanted to get rid of panty lines. Now she runs a 1 billion dollar company that is debt free.

None of them set out to change the world and make a billion dollars in the process. They just wanted to solve a problem that they felt passionately about. This is what true entrepreneurship is about--solving problems and improving lives. Not reselling someone else's commodity for a few pennies cheaper than the guy across the street. Sam Walton was not looking to sell goods cheaply. He wanted to provide a needed service to rural communities. Sound idealistic? Well, it should because entrepreneurs tend to be idealists who end up changing the world one discounted product at a time, one cup of coffee at a time or one panty line at a time.

So what about you? Why do you really want to start a business? Regardless of your business, find reasons beyond the obvious "I just want to be my own boss" type of reasons. You will need more than that to get you through those inevitable sleepless nights and pay less pay days.

Godspeed and I look forward to seeing you in The Players Lounge.

See Also:

3 Questions to Answer Before Starting Your Business