I’m a believer in making things, like most entrepreneurs. It’s what drives me, in almost every area of my life. I enjoy building websites, designing apps, crafting wooden benches and tables — even writing science fiction and fantasy short stories. I also enjoy starting and growing businesses.
The appeal, for me, is in taking raw elements and turning them into something tangible, something beautiful, or just something that I think constitutes some pretty cool shit.
It’s that simple.
There are a lot of people like me for whom that drive shows itself in entrepreneurship, whether as a conscious choice or a natural progression.
We want to build companies and products that are cool, that express something about us and our world-view, or that experiment with a certain concept or material in a way that captures our imagination.
And yeah, make some money while doing it. But I think the key part is that we care deeply about the work that we do. We’ll search for the perfect phrase, we’ll take every user experience to heart and we find a way to give a shit about every aspect of our projects.
But there are also a lot of people out there who aren’t like that. These are the people who don’t start companies, make products, or design things because they care about the work they do.
They’ve missed the point and missed it so badly they may as well be navigating by the stars while wearing a blindfold.
They’re startup founders, authors, creatives, people building businesses and designing their own fashion accessories. But when they burnout, hurt the people who matter and create bad work, it’s always down to one or more of these reasons:
Entrepreneurs Miss The Point Because They Put Margins Over Users
I don’t have a problem with money.
I’m not an unburdened being of pure light who can float above the world, free from the temptation of cold hard cash and the materialistic things that it can buy.
But, I also think it’s important to remember that money cannot be the driving force behind everything you do.
I always say a little greed is a good thing, but you also have to recognise that just getting paid is not the be-all and end-all of doing great work.
If it’s all you focus on, you will end up cutting corners and sacrificing quality.
There are times when you have to step back and ask whether you are making decisions about your product because they’re right, or because they’ll add a little something to your bank account.
Maybe, every now and then…the bank account wins out. But if the users realise they’re never going to win, you’ll lose them. Simple as that.
You need to sell your product, and you need to turn a profit. In the long-term, you’ll do more of both if you’re not cutting corners instead of looking after your customers and users.
Entrepreneurs Miss The Point Because They Want To Be, Not Do
When you’re doing creative projects or starting a business, you need to be doing it because you genuinely want to do that work.
You have to do it because you are genuinely prepared to get up every day, when you don’t necessarily want to, and push yourself to blast through an almost never ending to-do list.
If all you want to do is be someone who started a business or finished a creative project, that’s going to be bad for you.
You can’t go into business thinking you want to be an entrepreneur.
You have to go into it thinking that you want to build something.
Remember, entrepreneurship and creativity aren’t a lifestyle choice.
We get sold on thinking it is by looking at pictures of awesome offices and reading about billion dollar valuations and crap like that.
It’s all smoke in the wind.
You can’t start a business because you think being an entrepreneur would be cool or because you want to join some Unicorn club.
If that’s what you’re in this for, not only have you missed the point — you need to grow up.
Entrepreneurs Miss The Point Because They Don’t Want Hardship
Let me be real honest with you.
Searching for funding, designing pitch decks, practicing your pitch deck and so on does not count as doing the work of a business: it’s a lot closer to a singing teenager in the big city trying to be as star by chasing auditions and singing contests.
And it doesn’t really count as work.
You know what counts as work in a business for entrepreneurs? Building products and providing customer service.
There’s a host of things that go along with those two core work areas but they all support those two core work areas.
And entrepreneurs really need to spend their time as a company founder doing that work.
Your company may achieve immense growth if you pump a huge amount of money in it from several different rounds. But rather than being true organic growth, there’s a good chance you’re a giant fucking balloon animal unicorn.
You’re full of air and you’ll pop without a whole lot of needle.
Entrepreneurs Miss The Point Because They Never Understood Business To Begin With
And while we’re on the subject of real work, here’s something else to consider.
Just like I said above, the point of your business is to create products and turn a profit. If you’re doing that, you’ve got a legit product and a legit company on your hands.
I’m going to pitch back to my favourite point about business and entrepreneurs: the coffee shop.
Let’s say you want to start a brand new coffee shop, serving Reubens and espresso all day long to hungry bloggers like me. Awesome.
Now let’s say you go to a bank or your millionaire BFF and say you need a loan to get started, and they ask what you’ll do with the cash.
If your response was, burn through literally all of it to enable you to give away sandwiches for free while you get traction and raise more money from somewhere else in the name of learning… It wouldn’t work. You would be laughed out of there.
So what makes you, as entrepreneurs, think that’s a good strategy just because your company is BRIGHT SHINING STARTUP LLC with a fancy web app and pages of mission statement? That shows a complete misunderstanding of business in the first place.