Don’t do it for the money!

What is this, crazy beyond belief?  Surely all entrepreneurs go into business to make shedloads of money?  Isn’t that what we all want deep down?  Riches are the currency of success, they shouldn’t be the goal.  We’re all different.  For some people having power and being in control is what turns them on.  For others it’s recognition that they crave, or they need security or simply having a systematic and orderly life is fine for them.   Go into business because you have a great idea, because you want to make a difference or perhaps because you feel you can run a better business than others. 

Image courtesy of hishersandtheirs

What prompted me to strike out on my own after being ‘let go’ from a senior international role in a major multinational was a burning belief that I could do a so much better job of running a business than most of the people I had ever worked for.  And, yes, I wanted to be in control of what I did and when I did it rather than constantly having my string pulled.  When I then started my first business from scratch (years later with an old colleague), what drove me was an equal blend of rising to a fresh challenge and the opportunity of making a difference to the group we were targeting as customers.

Today there is so much emphasis upon wealth, with the media constantly commenting upon the salaries of sportsmen, celebrities and now bankers on a daily basis, you could be mistaken for thinking money is the ultimate turn-on. If you go into business purely for the money then you are unlikely to have a great deal of interest or understanding of your customers, employees and other stakeholders. For John Bird, founder of the Big Issue (, it clearly wasn’t money that drove him on.   And for Tim Cambell (series 1 Apprentice winner) starting the Bright Ideas Trust ( was his way of helping others.

Research has shown that money doesn’t make you happy; at least, if you weren’t happy before gaining the riches, it’s highly unlikely that you will be afterwards.  I’ve worked with many people who were avaricious beyond belief; you can see them in their scores in corporate life where they often rise to the top (before the inevitable fall).  In private firms they’re usually the ones who buy the new car with their start-up overdraft.  My experience is that they don’t make the best leaders; avarice and empathy don’t usually make good bedfellows.


2 responses to “Don’t do it for the money!

  1. I think that the motivation for setting up a business should always be to be the very best at what you do. A common side effect of being the best is earning pots of cash, but it should never be your main aim.

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