Is Striking It Rich the Main Reason to Start a Business?

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When you think about having your own business do you think a lot or a little about getting rich? I think it’s pretty common for people to think of being self-employed as a way to get rich, but how important is it as a motivating factor? Is that the main reason to start a business?

The reality of self-employment

Some people DO get rich from running their own businesses—but then again some people get rich from working for large companies. Some get rich from playing the stock market, or investing in real estate. And a few—a very few—get rich buying lottery tickets.

What’s the point? Some people get rich—period. The fact that some people get rich from their businesses isn’t even close to a guarantee of any kind. Having your own business does not mean getting rich!

The failure rate for new businesses is astronomical. I’d like to quote some numbers for you from some authoritative sources, but what I’ve found is that the numbers on business failure are all over the map. On the low end, some sources say 50% fail in the first year—on the high side others say 90%–it’s hard to say definitively, but it is an uncomfortably high statistic what ever it is.

Am I trying to say that you shouldn’t waste your time trying to start a business? Not at all. But what I am saying is that if you do, you need to go into it with the proper expectations. If you go in thinking you’ll get rich, and that having your own business is all about getting rich, you’re almost certainly doomed to fail no matter what you try.

Better reasons to start a business

Many of the best reasons to have your own business actually have little to do with money. And most, I think, are better motivators than money.

This is hardly an all-inclusive list, but it’s a solid start:

  1. You work better on your own and feel trapped in an organization
  2. You want more control over your career
  3. Your skill set lends itself well to self-employment
  4. You have a business idea you’re passionate about and want to take it as far as you can
  5. You want a better blend of work and personal life
  6. You’re stuck on the career ladder and feel certain you can do better
  7. You’re creative and need room to grow that side of you
  8. You’re one of the leaders in your company—a “go to” person
  9. You have marketable talents you don’t/can’t use on your job
  10. You have a talent for developing new business sources that you’d rather use in your own business than working for someone else
  11. The challenge of the unknown excites you
  12. You’re passionate about your work but the people you work with aren’t

In and of themselves, no one of these will come close to guarantying self-employment success—any more than wanting to get rich will. But having a combination of several could keep you interested in your business even if the business wasn’t making you rich.

The point is, you need something more than money alone to motivate you to make your business a success.

My thoughts on getting rich with a business

While I think a large dose of human nature plays a part, I admit that I do think about getting rich—from time to time. But it never lasts. Getting rich was never the reason for having my own business. Personal freedom, self-determination and the chance to be creative are way out in front on the motivation meter.

I don’t know that it’s even possible to plan and start a business that will make you rich. You have to deal with competition, changing market tastes, changing technology and a host of other complications that make planning a complete crap shoot. The fact is, some people will become wealthy from their businesses, but the vast majority won’t. Since most people plan on becoming wealthy from their businesses, the fact that a few actually do and then tell the story of how their plans made it happen can become gospel to the wannabe’s.

But here’s something that I think is even more important…if getting rich is the main reason you start a business—or even become self-employed at all—what will happen if you aren’t rich after a year, five years or even ten years? If getting rich is what motivates you you’ll almost certainly give up on what could be a solid business, one that fills a lot of other very important motivations in your life.

Starting a business requires a lot of work, an enormous amount of patience, more work, a willingness to roll with the punches, a strong degree of creativity and still more work—yes I’m trying to make a serious point about that work thing! There have to be strong personal reasons that drive you to stay the course even if you aren’t making a fortune.

What has or would motivate you to start your own business? Is it the prospect of getting rich? Or is it something else?

( Photo from Flickr by Mikl Roventine )

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