Wealth shouldn’t be the goal; it’s a byproduct of getting other things right: innovation, tenacity, market savvy. Focus on those.
Several quotes have been floating around Twitter about startup and founder goals being focused on getting rich or creating massive wealth in order to not have to work hard in the future. Those have it all wrong. Ask a group of fifth graders whether they want to be rich and not work when they’re all grown up, and you’ll be lucky to find one among the group that doesn’t agree that being rich is “the goal”. Being rich looks like the easy way out, but if wealth made our problems go away, we wouldn’t see celebrities going off the rails or being self-destructive. Wealth should not be the goal for anything we do in life.
We forget that money is a tool. It is not happiness. It is not rest from difficult experiences. It is not love. It is not success. Wealth is a byproduct of getting a lot of other things right. It should not be a goal – it should be something nice that happens when we get all those other things right.
The desire to be rich so that we can cease from our labor will never carry us through the difficult experiences that are a part of every startup journey. It takes a fire burning within, a passion to see a vision through to its culmination. Nothing short of that will provide enough reservoir to carry us through the setbacks that come with creating something from nothing. It is far easier to show up and get a paycheck from someone else than it is to risk our financial security because we believe in our vision, and if our goal is simply to get rich, pick the first path, because the chances of building at least some wealth working for someone else is far better than becoming filthy rich from an exponential exit of your startup.
Don’t launch a business in hopes that it will mean you don’t have to work someday. I always tell people that when you own your own business, you get to choose the hours you want to work; it just happens that it becomes all the hours you possibly can work. Launch a company because you believe you have something new to offer that will change an industry or solve a real problem that needs solving. Launch a business because you believe so much in your idea that it eats at you day and night, and you simply must see if it is possible.
Don’t launch a business because you want to be rich enough someday to not work. Work is what makes us respect ourselves, like ourselves, believe in ourselves. The fruit of our labor is an accomplishment that builds character and gives us confidence to try more difficult challenges. Laboring towards a goal is what makes us wake up in the morning with purpose. Don’t wish away the results of work; in the end, it will be what makes us who we are.
Wealth is a byproduct of so many other things going right; focus on those things instead. And then, whether wealth comes or not, we’ll find we’re happier, more confident and more equipped to face our future than before.