Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Motivation of an entrepreneur

Seems like I haven’t been blogging for quite some time. Actually there are quite a few things going on my mind that I wanted to blog about, but somehow I just couldn’t get my engine started. Maybe I had been too busy with my company lately, or maybe due to the lack of motivation to blog.

Anyway, went for lunch with a few ex-colleagues the other day. One of them, Nk, had just resigned and so it was sort of a farewell lunch for him. I happened to be meeting my clients in the vicinity and so I just joined in. Most of them were quite surprised to see me, as afterall I had left my ex-company for almost two years and wasn’t in contact with most of them. And apparently, they didn’t know that I had set up my own company and looked quite amazed when I told them so.

So during the lunch, one of my ex-colleagues TL asked me what’s my main reason/motivation for striking out on my own. Is it for earning more money, or is it for self-satisfaction, or some other reasons?

I replied that it wasn’t for the money. In fact, if anyone wanted to become an entrepreneur just for the sake of earning more money, I would discourage him to do so.

Firstly, the failure rate of entrepreneurs are much higher than the success rate. And the consequences of failure are rather harsh – depletion of savings, debts, opportunity costs, and the perception of becoming a failure. I had seen far more failed cases than success ones.

Secondly, even if you are able to sustain your company for a few years, you will not necessarily be earning more than your previous job. Especially if you are in a professional or managerial position before you ventured out.

Thirdly, the amount of stress and uncertainties faced by an entrepreneur is beyond one’s imagination. Resources are scarce, especially when you did not secure any funding from venture capitalists. The fear of failure will accompany you throughout the first few years. And the further you go, the more you feared for failure, because it would be very difficult for you to turn back and become an employee again.

Fourthly, you would most probably need to put in a lot more hardwork than before. So to put it simply, it would be much more physically demanding than before. Sooner or later, you would start to ask yourself, is it worthwhile to endure all these physical and mental stress and yet not earning significantly more than your previous job?

So, if money is your only motivating factor, there is a very high chance that you would eventually quit. Even if you managed to sustain for a while, you will probably be feeling unhappy because the amount of stress and sacrifice overwhelm the amount of monetary benefits you may be getting. Because there is no passion. If you do not have enough passion in what you are doing, you can’t expect to go far. If you do not have dreams that you yearned to fullfil, you would eventually collapse.

I did not elaborate much during the lunch. I just said that it is for my passion and dreams. No amount of money can retain me two years ago, and no amount of money can make me turn back now.

My ex-colleagues, mostly in managerial or team leader roles, seemed to be quite envious of my “carefree” entrepreneur way of life. I do not have to report to any bosses, do not have to attend stupid meetings and wayang in front of top management, have more freedom than before and is able to dictate my company’s direction. All these are very attractive, especially to people in junior or middle management. But would any of them venture out? I don’t think so, because they had not yet overcome their fear.