Why happiness is not the goal of entrepreneurship

Why happiness is not the goal of entrepreneurship

Is the goal of business to be happy? The answer to that question depends on who you ask. College MBA students often feel like they have a “happy” plateau they want to reach. Old guard in the business game knows better, though. True entrepreneurs aren’t often happy unless they are building “new” or breaking ground. Innovation is like breathing to an entrepreneur. You need that rush.

Now, that’s not to say there’s anything wrong with finding something you love and doing it for the rest of your working life to the absolute best of your ability. You can even do that in search of a profit and never quite be satisfied … but always be happy.

But, at heart, an entrepreneur is not trying to build “a” business. He or she wants to build multiple businesses. It’s not the product or the service. It’s the act of birth and growth, of nurturing something, making it work then passing it along to someone who wants to maintain it. You have different – not “better” just different – mountains to climb.

Being an entrepreneur is about waking up knowing the only security you have is what you create today. That you next decision might always be “make or break,” and you love that aspect of the business. A serial entrepreneur might invest ten years in the pharmaceutical industry then one day decide to start building hotels or manufacturing textiles or building chains of coffee shops. It’s about doing, not being or feeling.

Thus, “happiness” as most people define it is probably not in the cards for the entrepreneur. And that, to them, is totally okay. They want the horizon and the challenge and the unknown. The adventure and the next frontier to conquer.

Alive with opportunity and bursting with ideas and solutions – that’s the entrepreneur in a nutshell. Grass doesn’t grow under his feet unless he’s developing and selling something to make that happen. And, here’s a little secret…it’s not always about business.

Entrepreneurs can be counted on to invest in their communities in this way as well. They “see” things differently. Whatever cause it might be, they will attack it with their consummate vigor and imagination.

So, enough already about how entrepreneurs aren’t The Same as everyone else. Chances are, if you didn’t work for one, you wouldn’t have the freedom to criticize … and if you are one, you’re already nodding.

Chris Burch is a venture capitalist and founder of Burch Creative Capital.


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