What Should Be the Motivation for a Budding Entrepreneur?

When we start from scratch, we are going to encounter problems of all sorts. From recruiting a team to building a product to expanding upon distribution. If these things were easy, we’d all be rich.

However, they’re not. I was the former Vice President of Marketing for two former startups. One, we sold leads in distressed financial services. The other, we provided a discount service for people who wanted happy hour discounts during regular business hours.

I put my blood, sweat and tears into these companies. I did what I could to turn an idea into reality. I took one company from $0 in revenue to $50,000 a month within three months. The other, I created a strategy to expand from 100 to 1,000 vendors who accepted our product in eight months. Yet, neither of them made it out alive.

Some people may have said what I did was remarkable. Most of these people work at big Fortune 100 companies in irrelevant fields. Others may think what I did was impressive. Recruiters think what I did was nothing. But that’s probably because I only apply to work at big companies, as I’m tired of the uncertainty of the startup world.

What do I think though?

I think I failed at making it in the startup world. Yet with as much experience as I have had running them, I have been able to help others get through some of the overwhelming struggles they face in the beginning. Plus I know nearly everything that doesn’t work.

The problem with making big moves and strides in small companies is that figuring out how to expand or generate revenue isn’t your only job. You have to recruit your team, work well with them, lay down strategy and road maps, convince people that what you’re doing is going to work, raise money, do accounting, payroll, cut costs and everything else. Luckily, since I was a VP, I only had to do half of that. Get me in front of accounting books and you’ve lost your entire company. Put me in charge of a whole company and you might find me in the graveyard buried from stress. Keep me in the marketing side and you have a fighting chance.

So what does this say?

You need a team. A team who can specialize in all the areas of where you need help. Because unfortunately, we aren’t perfect creatures, or we’d have it all.

However, these things I discuss above are all just actions. Sure, actions get results. But actions have never been the determining factors that separate the good from the great. What the determining factors are should also be your motivation. Those determining factors go much deeper than that. It’s a combination of two philosophies. Be, do, have and the five whys. It’s why you want to be a business owner. Why you want to do what you do. Why you want to be successful.

I go into full depths of how this process works in my book, The Etiquette of Social Media. In my book, I interviewed CamMi Pham of ThinkRenegade. She walked away from an extremely lucrative job and turned down job offers from many prominent Fortune 500 companies to start her own digital ad agency. Guess what, she’s making big moves and has a lot of paying clients.

Why?

Because at her core, she understands both of these philosophies. Then she puts herself to work.

Here is an excerpt of our interview together:

What do you want most in life?
I want knowledge.
Why do you want knowledge?
Knowledge is a powerful tool.
Why is knowledge a powerful tool?
If I want material things, they will last until I exhaust my resources.
If I want money, it will move from my pocket to someone else’s.
If I want power, one day someone will steal it from me.
If I want fame, it will fade away.
With knowledge, no matter what happens in my life, it will remain with me. With the right knowledge, I can change the world and get everything else I mentioned.
People spend their entire life to learn these lessons. In the digital age, we are lucky to be able to easily access to all the knowledge we want with little to no cost. With the right knowledge, we will have the power to leverage other people’s strength to create an even bigger impact.
Why do you want to create a big impact?
The best part in life is the journey, not the destination. Wealth, power and fame are relative. We will always compare ourselves to someone who has more than we do. It will never be enough.
Investing in people will give us the highest return.
Why do you feel that investing in people will give us the highest return?
It was the way […]

Then the interview continues. At the last why, she identifies and tells me what her core desires are in life, which were deprived from a few events in her childhood. As she does, I am able to understand what motivates her at her core. I am also able to see why she is so wildly successful at her business.

I would love to go out and spill all the secrets of how you should motivate yourself, but looking into the five whys should be your foundation. I suggest picking up a copy of my book to find out more.

The Etiquette of Social Media — Leonard Kim


P.S. I thought, and I still think that I was writing a book about etiquette, but Graeme Shimmin told me it is really a blueprint on how to make it as a social media personality. If that is the case, you will learn how to brand yourself and your company as well.

Disclaimer: I wrote this book.


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Leonard Kim consults startups and write books. He also blogs at LeonardKim.com.