Fast Company

Why Should You Be an Entrepreneur?

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, I will say it again: if you want to create jobs, you have to create new companies. And why not? It makes perfect sense. As young companies grow, they inevitably need people. Often they are started by one or two people, who can't do everything. Young companies need marketing, HR, accounting, product development. They should be encouraged to be optimistic, and to move forward.

The Kauffman Foundation's research has shown that young companies--not small companies, not large companies, not "the enterprise" are the key creators of jobs in the US. Since the Kauffman Foundation calls itself the "foundation of entrepreneurship" and spends millions educating and training entrepreneurs and doing research into achieving the goal of self-sufficiency through entrepreneurship, when it issues research like this, everyone should listen.

As a matter of policy, if the U.S. wants to combat the high rate of unemployment, it must get behind the formation of new companies. Especially since unlike any other recession in recent history, this recession has also slowed the formation of startups.

For the past seven years, Stealthmode Partners, our accelerator in Arizona, has been an affiliate of the Kauffman Foundation, spreading its research and using its principles to help start and grow more than 450 companies. This year alone we have met with and coached sixty-odd young companies.

We have noticed a profound change of attitude in our entrepreneurs from just a few years ago: a failure of optimism, and a feeling of being shoved into entrepreneurship by circumstance, not by choice.

Many of our clients have been laid off from jobs they feel will never return. They feel a sense of entitlement to those jobs, and a sense that something is profoundly wrong.

What they don't feel is a sense of liberation, passion, problem-solving (except for their own problems). Many "reluctant" entrepreneurs are just forced into employing themselves.

It is gratifying to watch them as we help them through the process of starting a company. Sooner or later, they come to the realization that being an entrepreneur involves helping others, not just one's self, and solving more than just the problem of putting food on the table. After all, to be an entrepreneur, you have to sell something someone wants to buy. You have to solve a problem for someone else.

Entrepreneurship, at its highest and best, is not a selfish pursuit. It is a generous pursuit that involves "donating" one's passion, wisdom and expertise to solving someone else's problem. Once you are truly engaged in a problem-solving activity, you tend to focus less on your own problems, and (IMHO) live a more fulfilled, happy life.

Why do you think entrepreneurs and people at startups put in 80 hours weeks without complaining, often for salaries lower than those of larger more established companies? Because they feel useful. That's why. They feel as though their lives are worthwhile.

America was built on something we confusedly refer to as the "American Dream." Recently, we've defined the American dream as home ownership, or as our children having it better than we did. But the original American Dream wasn't about any of that. It was about building a country where people could be free. Where the problems of others could be solved. Where nature could be understood and harnessed for the common good.

Help us get back there. That's the good place we came from. That's the place of the entrepreneur.

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