What’s the Motivation to Start a Startup?

Investment in Startups: Risk and Reward

Starting a company is hard. Even uber-successful entrepreneurs like Marc Andreessen will tell you so. And no matter what you think you know about starting a business, you’ll be proven wrong time and time again.

When starting a company, expect to face financial and personal uncertainty. Your own money may be at risk. You may be bootstrapping; watching the pennies disappear from your account is frightening. Troubles with partners are bound to happen. If they get too severe, you may have to get rid of them. Your family life will suffer – too many hours and too much brainpower invested in your startup…

The whole process of starting a business can get really, really ugly.

So what’s the motivation? Why do it?

Ask any entrepreneur and they’ll openly tell you all the reasons not to start a business. All the frustrations, difficulties and painful times. But then they’ll launch into all the reasons why you absolutely must start a company, and do it right away. Most entrepreneurs are like late night informercial maniacs when it comes to promoting the startup life to others. Here’s what they’ll be pitching:

  • Passion. The passion you feel as an entrepreneur – for the startup life, for your company, for your vision – is all-encompassing. You’re driven to succeed, to experience everything a startup has to offer, and to make things happen. Passion is a prerequisite to starting a business, and it’s also a huge motivator, because through your startup you fuel your passion.
  • Creating Value. Entrepreneurs are builders. Creators. We need to produce “stuff” in order to succeed. And that “stuff” needs to create value. It’s extremely motivating to know that something you’ve started has created value for others. And part of creating value is contributing to the entrepreneurial community on a whole. For me, this is a particularly motivating factor; I’m able to build a company, blog about it and communicate to others about my experiences.
  • Changing the World. Not every business has the potential to change the world, but many entrepreneurs take this mantra to heart. Lots of entrepreneurs believe their businesses will change the world. It’s part of creating value. Starting a business and tossing yourself into it with unequivocal passion, gives you the chance.
  • Being in Control. Entrepreneurs are control freaks. We believe we can do things better than others, and off we go! Having that opportunity is on one hand motivating and on the other hand scary – you’re in control, you’re the boss, you better get out there and make things happen. Luckily, being in control feeds many of the other motivating factors, so it all comes together.
  • Money. There’s no question that money is a motivating factor, although it belongs at the bottom of the list. The truth is that you can probably earn more money at a fairly high paying job, over enough years, than you can starting a business because of the likelihood of failure. But the only way to hit a financial home run is with a startup. You get to take your swing at the plate and aim for the fences.

Very few entrepreneurs start one business and stop. Whether they succeed the first time or not, many entrepreneurs are “repeat offenders” because the motivation for starting a business is so strong. The emotional rollercoaster that so many people describe borders on an addictive rush. Entrepreneurs crave the feeling of starting something new, disrupting the status quo, changing the world, creating value, generating wealth. It’s what entrepreneurs do. Few working opportunities will give you the same possibilities as starting a business. And few jobs, if any, give you the same motivations and rewards.

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