There is a difference between being and doing. When you do something because you want to be the person who accomplished X, who’s famous for Y, who’s recognised for Z, you’re focussed on what your startup means to your own identity. And you’re limiting your company to only be an extension of your identity.
The great companies are built by people who want to change elements of their world. Or build a tribe. Or enable some element of progress. The great companies are built for a reason that is self-sustaining, and isn’t entwined with who their founders want to be.
It’s fine for your company to be a part of your identity. But there needs to be a better reason.
When all you want to do is be someone, you’re focused on the externalities of achievement and success. You want to be in the photos, in the magazines, on the tip of everyone’s tongue, the star of your own show.
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Those might be activities that provide a little growth to your marketing, but answer me this – how many truly successful startups have CEOs who spend more time speaking at conferences that working in the office?
A founder who is building a startup – they’re not worried about comparisons to Elon Musk. They’re worried about revenue, marketing reach, user growth, the finances, the happiness of their staff and whether or not their product actually works – and they’re worried about those concepts because they matter to the growth of the company, not because they might lead to bad press.
The being is okay. But the being has very little to do with the doing.
Being an entrepreneur, being a startup founder – these labels and badges aren’t important. They’re pure vanity.