It’s been many years since I stopped working for the man. And also many years spent justifying why I do what I do.
Now if you’re one of the lucky business owners and entrepreneurs who haven’t had someone ask why they’ve chosen this lifestyle, I’m jealous.
You haven’t had all your motivation, reasoning, and logic questioned by people who pretend they care about you.
I’ve faced a barrage of questioning from the people in my life, some close, some mere acquaintances. I wish their questions were coming from a place of curiosity. But alas, once they’ve started having a go at me, I’ve learned their motives aren’t so pure.
Some try to trip you up.
I’ve had a friend accuse me of having an agenda when I started my business. An agenda, like I was an evil politician out to gain control of the world. Evil chuckles and all that.
My goal, according to them, was to make money and screw everyone who stood in my way. I had an agenda, and not in a good way.
It’s not exactly what you need to hear when you’re battling with the perils of starting a business mixed with your own doubts and fears.
I've never felt purely motivated by money. So, as you can imagine, I took exception to this idea, though. But after much reflection, I wish I could have responded with a nonchalant, “who cares?”
So what if it's true and I’m starting a business to make money?
It’s not the worst thing in the world. Here’s why.
It’s just a job
People forget, when they bring on the hate, that when people go into business, it’s a job. It's the same old job required to pay the bills like everyone else. It's the same old career, with the hope of advancement, like everyone else. It’s just a different way of making money.
If people feel like you’re only in it for the money, remind them everyone needs money. Bills, food, housing, and all that.
And everyone has to make money. Do you think charities go into business not to make money? It’s their whole motive; to make money. They need to make money in order to be an effective charity and to actually provide aid to people.
I can see how this happens, by the way; how people end up with this impression.
Sometimes we view entrepreneurs and business owners as weird immortals. We treat them like heroes to the employed, positioning themselves as beacons of freedom.
People who step out on their own represent the ultimate dream of being free. And sometimes the cocky entrepreneurs position themselves like this too.
It confuses people. It makes them think people who work for the man and those who don’t aren’t the same. Yet, when it come down to it, they're not so far apart.
You don’t need to want to change the world
I get it; some people start a business to fix a need in the world. To become heroes. To solve the issues of the masses. To fix a need using what they can produce.
And who cares about the money? When you’re changing lives, money doesn’t compare, right?!
But let’s be real here. Not every business, side hustle, or pursuit has to be a life-changing proposition. It might be life-changing for you, but that might be where the life-changing stops.
In practical terms, having some humanitarian cause isn’t what qualifies you as able to start a business. Nor what guarantees you will be successful at it. Most business owners didn’t have ethical or humanitarian reasons for starting a business. They simply found a gap in the market or seized an opportunity. It wasn’t much more complicated than that.
If changing the world were the only motivation for starting a business, we wouldn’t have most of what we love and use every day. I’m not sure we would have the apps we use, the technology to house the apps, or the marketing platforms to promote the apps. And that’s just talking about reading content as you are now.
If people expect this of you, they’re thinking too much of humanity.
What about the people who have it all?
There may come a time when someone compares you to charitable people they know. What about an athlete who uses their platform to save the world?
What about Lewis Hamilton, who is campaigning for the rights and freedoms of people? Why can’t you make a business with this type of goal in mind?
We need to remember people like athletes don't always start with a cause in mind. I doubt Hamilton entered racing to eventually have a platform to influence change. He wasn’t chasing F1 championships for the charities. He wanted to win.
Everyone wants to win in some way.
Money is a fine motivator
It’s not socially acceptable to admit to feeling motivated by money. I bet you a million dollars if you took to Twitter right now and tweeted money motivates you, hate will come your way.
Sure, you will have who will support you. Those who get it.
But others won’t even try to understand money motivation, despite the fact we’re all motivated by it in some way.
Yet, I’m not going to begrudge anyone who feels motivated by money.
Not because I’m trying to be a good person.
It’s because money can have a powerful influence over effort, consistency, and dedication.
Everyone has their carrot. For someone like me, who didn’t grow up with a lot of money, having money is a big carrot.
Money changes lives. It helps solve problems that have dominated and sometimes destroyed your life. It helps you live out other dreams or pursue more virtuous ways of living.
And if money helps you get up in the morning and try your best, then that’s a good motivator.
Is money the best motivator?
Money isn’t high on my list of motivational tools. It’s not something that I would always reach for. But just because it’s not the best doesn’t make it worthy of being on the list. Especially when it comes to business; making money, sales, or creating community, are all part of it.
You can’t have a business without money. You can’t grow, get better, and reach more people without money.
You aren’t really a business if you’re not making money.
Yet, this isn’t a competition about what makes the best motivational tool. There’s no wrong or right motivational method for starting and running a business.
Sure, you will have those pushy successful people who will tell you there is the best way. It’s probably the way they outline in their podcast or eBook they want you to buy.
Yet, we know, what works for one person doesn’t always work for another.
Isn’t it better to be motivated than not motivated?
I’m not going to tell you how to motivate yourself. But what I do know, from my years of running and owning a business, is how hard motivation is to come by.
You can’t go to the shops and buy yourself a jar of motivation. You can’t read a book and magically change. The week doesn’t restart and your motivation is magically restored.
It doesn’t work like that.
Wherever you get your motivation from is good. If it’s money, great. If that’s what gets you up in the morning, and makes you work hard, keep doing it.
If money helps you do the things needed to make you successful, why shy away from it?
You do you.
And when people tell you that money motivation is bad, they’re actually demotivating you.
They’re taking away your motivation and then depleting you of anything else you might have left.
That’s not good news for you.
Don’t buy into their demotivation tactic or their insecurities about feeling motivated by money. They’re trying to sabotage your success.
Don’t let them get to you.
You’ve worked hard enough to find, channel, and get yourself motivated. Don’t let someone tell you what has worked for you is actually wrong.
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