Why is it that entrepreneurs can’t stop being entrepreneurs? Even the most successful among us continue to invest in and start companies. Some are rich beyond imagination and could be spending their time in the Caribbean. Do they feel some external pressure to deliver results? Probably not.
Every time someone asks me why I’ve started my two companies, I ponder this question. They ask me whether my next venture will be my last. They joke that I'll never be satisfied. And they think that we entrepreneurs are only motivated by money. But that couldn’t be further from the truth.
I believe I speak for most entrepreneurs when I say that money is the metric by which we measure our success. Just as the high jump is measured in vertical feet and the marathon in miles, successful entrepreneurs are measured in dollars. But we don't do it for the money. Why do we do it?
1. We need to create. It's been said that artists don’t create because they want to; they create because they have to. Entrepreneurs are very much the same. We have an insatiable desire to birth an idea into reality and then watch it grow into a functioning company, full of life and energy. In many ways, it’s maternal. Bringing an idea into the world is a form of artistic expression. It's the true reward of any creative personality.
2. We want to enrich lives. When our ideas come to life, people are involved. There’s an immense satisfaction in giving deserving people an opportunity to grow and succeed. Extending a job or tapping into someone’s hidden potential never gets old.
3. We feel fulfilled leading the charge. Contrary to popular belief, entrepreneurs don’t crave power. We crave leadership. We are motivated by watching those around us share in our dream. There is nothing more rewarding than having a team of talented people fully supporting an entrepreneur's vision and working diligently to make it happen.
4. We want to solve real problems. Most great businesses were started to solve a problem. But who doesn't like solving problems? Most people. Entrepreneurs are motivated by the prospect of finding a solution to a challenging problem. Doing so is typically the beginning of a great business. But it also must be done to keep the company going in the right direction.
5. We hope to leave a lasting legacy. Like a child, a healthy company grows steadily over the years. It becomes an independent, living being that can operate and contribute to society long after the entrepreneur is gone. What better way to be remembered than as the person who created that being, from which so many people benefit? In fact, I’d bet that most entrepreneurs would forego a tombstone in favor of a picture in the hallway of their first successful company with the one professional title they truly valued: founder.
Entrepreneurs can’t stop being entrepreneurs because these five motivating factors can't be checked off a bucket list. Building a legacy, solving problems, enjoying leadership, giving back and expressing creativity are all elements of who we are and who we were created to be.
So when will I be able to start enjoying the rewards of my efforts? I do every day.
Justin Spring is the cofounder of two successful startups: Adept Digital Marketing, a sought-after consultancy for online marketing strategies, and BringShare, an online tool to help marketing agencies simply track and report on their clients' marketing efforts. He is also a member of Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world's most promising young entrepreneurs.
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