It’s tough being a visionary founder. All you want is the odd inspirational quote, to capture the hearts and minds of budding entrepreneurs. But instead, you’re forced to compete with the likes of Steve Jobs or Reid Hoffman, who seem to pump them out like a well-tuned factory.
So this post is dedicated to Mark Zuckerberg. He may not be worshipped, but he’s said a few things along the way, that have really resonated, and deserve sharing:
We never went into this wanting to build a company. But a company is the best vehicle in the world to align a lot of people to achieve a mission
I’ve really taken to this idea of a company as a vehicle. A well-built company is not the goal, but rather a tool that enables you to achieve your mission
we don’t build services to make money; we make money to build better services
The biggest risk is not taking any risk.
Contrary to popular belief, entrepreneurs are not driven by making money, they’re driven by impact. Driven to disrupt, driven to enrich. Once you realise that you can make a meaningful difference in the world, it’s hard to do anything but chase this goal with irrational passion.
But money plays a significant role. If you have money, your ability to have impact increases dramatically. You can start a new venture with less pressure on funding. You can fund somebody else’s venture, and pay it forward. It’s an incredibly empowering thought, and my guess is that it plays a key role in the decision of many first-time founders to sell. “If I make money on this, I’ll be well placed for the future”.
So with that in mind, it’s fascinating to hear Zuckerberg’s answer for why he didn’t sell to Yahoo. He would have had millions, been set for life, and perfectly placed for whatever he wanted to do next. His response:
Why would I give it up? I’m never going to have a better idea.
Think about it. Bezos. Jobs. Page. Zuckerberg. It’s the same guys, at the same companies. They never had better ideas. It seems obvious in hindsight, but they all resisted financial security and intellectual curiosity, to focus on the companies they were born to build. No entrepreneur is short of great ideas. So to stick with the same one, year after year, takes incredible discipline.
I think this is a great test for anyone starting a company. Can you see yourself doing it for the next ten years? When people look back on your life, will it define you? If you’re not sure, consider looking deeper for the elusive Founder / Market Fit. But if the answer is a resounding YES, I can’t wait to see what you build. You are the true entrepreneur.