Whenever I speak with entrepreneurs, whether it's over coffee or on a big stage, I always like to drill down to the dream that shapes and motivates them. While many have ideas of large paydays and amassing the kind of wealth that leads to a very specific kind of freedom, I find that usually, there is a deep and profound sense of meaning behind what they do.
I'm not talking about some pie-in-the-sky notion of ending world hunger (although I would love to see that). I mean the very concrete ideas that take the form of a big goal. Things like:
- Providing the best education for one's children
- Leaving a meaningful legacy on the hearts and minds of employees and customers
- Being able to support a cause one is personally passionate about
- Creating a successful story that can inspire others
- Making time for one's hobbies and impact areas
- Being able to create lasting memories with families and friends
Understanding your personal "why" - why you want to be an entrepreneur or climb the rungs of a large corporate ladder - will keep you motivated when it's tough and help you celebrate well when things are going gangbusters. Focusing on why you do what you do will also allow you to quit what's not working and focus better on what does.
I like this post by Caleb Wojcik, where he discusses why successful entrepreneurs are so successful. His theory? Focus. He cites big and well-known examples while also encouraging the upside of a minimum viable product and the notion of pivoting early. All this is startup speak for: try, fail, learn, try again.
I like to hear that failure is okay. I hope you do, too. Knowing that it's okay to fail and learn something in the process should let you know that it's time to get going. Understanding also that success may not look like a high-profile acquisition or an IPO should also enable you to truly create the kind of company you can be proud of, enjoy working for, and want to see grow.
Growing for growth's sake is boring. Just follow a formula in your average business textbook. But growing because growth helps you realize a deeply personal goal or dream - now that's something worth chasing.
This means our ideas can come and go; we can try and try again. This doesn't look like jumping around due to boredom. It looks like doing what's necessary because we're focused on a big personal goal.
And that's the reason we threw our hat in the entrepreneurial ring to begin with, right? We started this journey because we were chasing meaning, not money.
Worry less about going big. If you go big and can't go home (because the going big is taking all of your time), then was it all worth it?