Don’t do it for the money. That’s the startup mantra you hear from a speaker at every event, every mentorship session and pretty much from everywhere else. If you do it for the money – you will fail.
Frankly, I think its on the verge of bullshit. If you do not do it for the money, you will also fail. Every business (yes, that also includes startups) is about money at the end of the day. Even charity is about money.
The simple truth is that nobody wants to be seen and portrayed as a money hungry capitalist with zero values who only thinks about the bottom line. It’s a perception game and we all want to be seen as loving, caring individuals who only want to solve world’s biggest problems.
Are you seriously going to tell me that Instagram was founded because someone wanted to make the world a better place through image filters?
Having had the chance to meet a lot of wealthy people both in the startup world and outside of it, I can tell you that at least outside of it (where most wealthy people actually are) – quite many, if not the majority, were largely motivated by money. Guess what, they were successful and it does not make them bad people.
Many of them now use their wealth to help people, start charity funds, some started working on their life’s work. Now that, is where real advice can be had.
It’s not about “not doing it for the money.” It is about taking the emotions, feelings, ambitions, fears – away from money. It is about learning to simply treat it as a number, nothing less and nothing more. It is about not worrying about money –no matter what happens. It is about building your business first and foremost and treating money as a tool to grow and measure.
This is something I learned when I had a very short but profitable career in poker. If you start worrying about money, you can never be a winning poker player. You can not be afraid of losing money. If you are then when you lose money, you will have the urge to get it back, known as tilting. At that point you are very likely to make mistakes in your chase for money. You will make larger bets, you will start playing larger stakes (that you can’t afford), you will go all-in when there is no reason to and as a result – lose it all. If you are not a ruthless mathematical machine that does not care about the money – you are a losing player. Professional poker players can play with monopoly money and remain completely serious and beat everyone, because it is not about the money when they are at the table – but the bottom line at the end of the month matters very much to them.
So stop pretending to live in a fairy tale. Stop lying to yourself and those around you. There is nothing to be ashamed of. If you are in business, you are in it for the money in one way or another, whether you like it or not.
Now, how you treat money and what you want to do with it is up to you.
It just happens to be true that solving the biggest problems of the world can also generate the most money.