Thursday, January 29, 2009

Enough about Passion and Changing the World: That is Not The Entrepreneur's Job

The old joke goes like this.

Question: What do you call a very polite, friendly, kind, good looking monster?
Answer: A failure.

Why is this joke (mildly) funny? Well, it's because it plays on our sense of values and how it may conflict with the specific role occupied by an individual. Yes, we like polite, friendly, kind, and good looking creatures.

But the
role of a monster is to be none of these ... and so, defined by its specific role, such a monster would be a failure.

The same could be said for entrepreneurs.

An entrepreneur's job is to build lasting companies that makes lot of money. Period
  • An entrepreneur's job is not to change the world.
  • An entrepreneur's job is not to show passion for a product.
  • An entrepreneur's job is not to do what he or she loves.
An entrepreneur's job is to build lasting companies that make lots of money. Period.

Sure there is nothing wrong with changing the world, or showing passion for a product, or doing what he or she loves. But at the end of the day, if that person has not built a lasting company that makes lots of money, he or she has failed as an entrepreneur.

Take sports. The job of a competitive swimmer is to swim faster than anyone else. Sure it's great if the swimmer feels passionate about the sport, but no matter how passionate one feels about it, if he or she cannot swim faster than the person in the other lanes, that swimmer has failed. The swimmer may be a very fine person, but as a competitive swimmer, the person has lost.

Entrepreneurship is a sport.

It is a competition.

The rules are very clear.

And that is what makes it so exciting ... It does not matter if you are black or white or brown or tall or short or fat. If you create a company that spews out massive profits year after year, you have won the competition. You have earned the right to call yourself an entrepreneur.

If you don't ... well you can be a good father, a poetic soul, a dreamer, a passionate person ... but you will not have won the entrepreneurship game. Like the monster, you would have failed.

There is nothing wrong with failing at entrepreneurship
, just as there is nothing wrong with failing at competitive swimming, or anything else.

But the sooner an entrepreneur and young budding CEOs realise that there really is only one metric that counts in this game, the sooner we will get beyond the recent Web 2.0 silliness and thereby give birth to a revitalised start up environment where some truly amazing, long lasting companies will be created.