Why do people become entrepreneurs?

Why do you think people become entrepreneurs? Many would probably suggest it is to live the life of luxury, to quote the much used phrase “to spend a few years working harder than anyone can imagine to have the life that most could only imagine”. Whilst there are entrepreneurs who are completely money orientated I think the reality is a little deeper than that. I think it all comes down to one theme – significance.

I’ll share with you my biggest fear. Hopefully many years from now, I’m going to be lying on my death-bed, where I imagine I’ll take the last few minutes left to summarise what I’ve achieved. Nothing would make me feel worse than being dissatisfied with what I’ve done. That I didn’t make enough of a dent in this world. The fact is I want a legacy, I strive for what I class as significance.

My entrepreneurial hero, Richard Branson (how cliché eh?), forwarded on this great article about the Dodge Brothers v Henry Ford case.

Elliott G. Stevenson, the Dodges’s attorney asked Ford, “What is the purpose of the [Ford] company?”

Ford replied, “To do as much as possible for everybody concerned, to make money and use it, give employment, and send out the car where the people can use it… and incidentally to make money…. Business is a service not a bonanza.

“Incidentally make money?”

“Yes, sir.”

“But your controlling feature…is to employ a great army of men at high wages, to reduce the selling price of your car, so that a lot of people can buy it at a cheap price, and give everybody a car that wants one.”

“If you give all that,” replied Ford, “the money will fall into your hands; you can’t get out of it.”

I’d argue the most successful entrepreneurs aren’t primarily motivated by money. The most successful entrepreneurs are motivated by doing something they love doing, making a difference and being the difference, creating value and valued creating, but most of all achieving significance.

Now even 60 years after his death, who doesn’t know who Henry Ford is?

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