Should You Start A Business?

In my experience most people start a business to become rich.  However, during the course of starting a business most founders realise a deeper meaning and purpose in themselves.  Most of the time people who start a business realise that they actually started a business not just for money, but because they had a yearning for something more.

But, just because people want a deeper meaning in their life or want to have an impact in the world doesn’t mean that they should start a business.  The two are mutually exclusive a lot of the time.

There is only one reason that you should start a business:

If you are unable to create a product or service through any other means than by using commerce.

In other words, you start a business when you have no option but to do it yourself, because no one else can or will.  You do it because you want to see a change and the only option left is to do it via commercial means.

If you can do it by other means then it’s a good indication that you shouldn’t start a business as it would be more time efficient, less costly to get to your outcome.

I have seen too many entrepreneurs start a business because they wanted to get rich and therefore they come up with a business idea that actually sounds plausible.  However when examining the idea and their motives further, it becomes clear that the best way forward would not be via commercial means.

In enterprise software a good question to ask is:  “Would partnering with incumbent company X mean that my startup will do better?”.

If the answer is yes, then you have a bad idea for a startup or the incorrect intentions.

Because if partnering would be so beneficial, then it’s likely you aren’t working on something which is trying to change things.  It probably would have been cheaper and less time-consuming to just partner up from the get-go or become an employee for incumbent company X.

Every successful company has a similar story of having to resort commerce to create change. 

Steve Wozniak wanted to stay at HP, but left because they didn’t have the resources to help him create his products.  Richard Branson created Virgin Airlines because he thought that airline service sucked and didn’t have the flights he wanted.  Elon Musk made SpaceX because NASA weren’t making any more advances in space travel.  The list is endless.

In all of these cases choosing commerce to make progress and change things was the only option.

This is why starting a startup is so inherently hard.  The good startups are trying to change things.  And changing things means stepping on other people’s toes and causing a ruckus.

It’s counter-intuitive but it’s a sign that you’re on the right tracks.


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