Business Building as Escaping Boredom? 1

This seems like a particularly interesting comment posted Friday in the Huffington Post by a 20-year-old college student:

Boring internships may be turning students off from entering the regular rat race. Instead, many students are looking to starting their own businesses. Our business idols are the founders of Napster and Google. We, perhaps unrealistically, want quick success not a long climb up a career ladder. An Inc.com article by Donna Fenn calls this generation “the most entrepreneurial generation in our nation’s history” and The Intuit Future of Small Business Report predicts a rise in young people creating their own businesses.

So do you start your own business to escape from something? Instead of to build something? Instead of scanning for opportunities, following your dream?

Lots of people do. I did. I left a good job at Creative Strategies International to go out on my own, more to work at what I liked to do than to build a company. That eventually became Palo Alto Software. Here’s the short version, from my blog Planning, Startups, Stories:

I left a good job at Creative Strategies and started on my own, not because of something I wanted to build, not because of creative vision, but rather because I thought I could make enough money to keep my family whole and do what I wanted. I wanted interesting work, and I wanted to choose my work. I wanted to actually do the writing and reseach, not supervise others. It was important to me that what I spend hours doing was something fun — I always found writing and planning and working numbers fun — even though I didn’t have the idea that would create the empire. I was running away from boredom, not building castles.

I think one of the main motivators for new businesses is doing what you like, and liking what you do. Think of how many people build businesses like that; not just the obviously lucky ones who create vocation around avocation (as in artists, musicians, ski instructors, etc.), but also the people who build new businesses around professional services, or hobbies; think of the travel guides, bookstore owners, computer programmers. In my case, I liked spreadsheets, liked word processing, liked market research, and liked business planning.

Is that what you’re doing as you look to build a business? Not that there aren’t a lot of other motivators, but this one doesn’t get into the lists as often as some of the others. Don’t apologize, it’s real.

And as I think of what motivated me in the early years, as my company grew from home office to company, a lot of it was wanting to have a good place to work, with people I like, who believe in what we’re doing.

[Disclosure: that 20-year-old college student is my youngest daughter.]

-Tim

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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  • http://www.todaysmama.com Rachael

    In my opionion passion drives business — without it how can someone stay committed to a start up that in the end requires so much of your heart and soul. So let’s be honest — what entrepreneur can make the sacrifices required for success for a venture they just don’t like? The kind of entrepreneurs that can do that, are the ones that blow my mind.

    There is a surge of entrepreneurship — I think it’s because technology makes it so much easier to be an entrepreneur, I think there is a world of opportunity right now — but I also think that the Gen X and Gen Y people out there have learned a thing or two by watching their parents and previous generations and their approach to work and career and the effect it has on their family. They want something different and are willing to go out there and create it.

    I’m 29 years old – I started my business at the age of 26 out of interest and learned that I am absolutely passionate about business, technology, publishing and just plain being an entrepreneur. I work crazy hours, but I have control over my time and how I spend it. I can be there when my kids wake up, take them to pre-school, head out to the park and still work 60 hours a week if need be.

    The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again – and expecting different results. I think entrepreneur’s want different results so they are willing to take different paths.