Entrepreneurship is awesome

I think entrepreneurship is awesome. I love entrepreneurship.

But I often find myself feeling disconnected from the entrepreneurial scene, and I've been wondering why.

I think it's because to me, entrepreneurship is about creating something that you think ought to exist in the world, in the exact way that you think it ought to exist. It's about expressing who you are, in real, tangible, profitable form, out there in the world.

Making a ding in the universe, in the words of Steve Jobs.

In Branson's book, Business Stripped Bare, on page 2, no less, he talks about an interview he gave to Bob Schieffer, where Bob asked him why he'd gone into business.

"I just stared at him. I suddenly realized I had never been interested in being 'in business'. And, heaven help me, I said so, adding: 'I've been interested in creating things.'"

I think there's a world of difference, and I think it matters. A lot.

So much shit has been done in the world in the name of profit. Now, to be fair, a lot of shit has happened in the name of making a ding in the universe, as well, most notably the crusades.

But I think that coming from a place of wanting to create something is a much better starting point for doing something good in the world, than wanting to make a buck.

Don't get me wrong. I love profit. Profit is a necessary, but not sufficient, condition.

Without money, what you're doing is not sustainable, which means it'll die. That's not the point of creation. (In my experience, there's a tendency with non-profits tend to take the "non-profit" part too seriously, and do what they can to squander money, just to make sure that they won't have any profits left. I think the future lies with for-profit businesses.)

I love this quote from Whole Foods CEO John Mackey:

"Making high profits is the means to the end of fulfilling Whole Foods' core business mission. We want to improve the health and well-being of everyone on the planet through higher-quality foods and better nutrition, and we can't fulfill this mission unless we're highly profitable.... Just as people cannot live without eating, so a business cannot live without profits. But most people don't live to eat, and neither must a business live just to make profits."

You can think what you will of Whole Paycheck^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^HFoods, but the quote is awesome.

But, more importantly, when business is about creating things that you think ought to exist, and about self-expression, you don't give up as easily, if at all. If you don't succeed in the first attempt, you're going to go back and give it another go. And another. And another.

Because it's not just about an interesting idea, a lucrative opportunity in the marketplace. It's about who you are, and the mark you want to leave on the world before you leave.

I think this is what Seth Godin refers to as "your art", and I think it's a helluva lot more interesting than just "how to succeed".

Now, some people are about lucrative opportunities in the marketplace. That's their art. That's totally cool. It can be beautiful to watch.

But for the rest of us, I think it's about something else, something much more specific, and to me, startups can only keep my interest for very long when they tickle that bone in me.

So I just say:

  • Fuck the whole angel/VC funding game where you become a pawn in their game of averages
  • Fuck the whole "9 out of 10 startups fail" philosophy
  • Fuck the endless supply of well-intentioned (and often self-serving) advice on how to succeed in business - listen to your gut and just be yourself instead
  • Fuck the hunt for "success" - do your art, create your own thing
  • Fuck the people who are trying to sell you on their 7 steps to success and blueprints for this and that. Blueprints can only show you the way to things that worked in the past. That's worthless for your work to express yourself through entrepreneurship.

How about you?

What's your art?

What is your life about?

What's the thing you'd have to create, in order to die fulfilled?

Why have you been put on this planet?

Or - gasp! - why have you chosen to be on this planet, at this particular time?


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