Bad Reasons *Not* to Start a Business 0

I just read Neil Patel’s Business isn’t fun! on his QuickSprout blog. It’s a great case of being very right but explaining very wrong. Try this on:

I hate to break it to you, but business isn’t fun. People start and join businesses to make money. It’s as simple as that. If you don’t believe me, just take a look at the New York Stock Exchange; companies are purely based on their financial performance.

Ha! See what I mean? Neil goes on to make some good points later on, but pointing to NYSE companies as illustrating anything generally applicable to business at large, much less small business and entrepreneurship? Not hardly.

There are a few thousand NYSE companies, a tiny fraction of the 26 million or so businesses in the US. And they’re exactly the wrong ones to look at because, by definition, they’re owned by thousands and thousands of individuals, not by anybody who ever started a business. How else could you judge a stock market company but by its financials?

But wait. What about the tens of millions of companies that aren’t judged by their financials? Those businesses you and I build because we want to, because we believe in what we’re doing, because we want to do what we like and make a living that way? Aren’t they more important? The software developers, graphic artists, butchers, bakers and candlestick makers making it on their own, doing it their way because they wanted to; aren’t they the right place to look at this?

All of which is bad reasoning, a bad argument, for a good point. But it comes later on. Before we get to the good points, I can’t help griping a bit about this one:

If you want to have a lot of fun, you shouldn’t try to create a business, you should stick with your 9 to 5 job.  [You'll have] less stress, regular hours, job security (SIC), vacations, and a simple life.

Oh dear: another bad example.  People with regular jobs tell me they aren’t much fun, or less stress, or more job security. Maybe they mean more vacations.

And what’s his good point? Several. He says it takes two things to start a business: 1) solve a problem, and 2) make money. That’s really true. And it is also true that starting your own business is a lot of work. You won’t be your own boss. You won’t have easy hours. You will have stress.

Neil concludes:

If you love making money like me, go for it. Just don’t do it for the fame and glamour.

Awkward: he should have said “fun,” there at the end, not “fame and glamour.”

And I conclude: Neil forgot that work, even hard work, is a variation of fun when it’s the work you choose. Not that it’s all fun or that there aren’t other things more fun than work, but some work is creative, and satisfying, and hey, most of us need to make money one way or the other, right? So isn’t doing your own thing part of the game?

Neil is smart, successful, and is doing what he likes. Some people would call that fun. And even if it’s more work than fun, not all work is created equal. Consider the alternative.

About the Author Tim Berry is the founder and chairman of Palo Alto Software and Bplans.com. Follow him on Twitter @Timberry. Follow Tim on Google+ Read more »

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