Don’t start a business for your own gain

Inspired by Derek Sivers book, Anything You Want.

The Tao of business: care about your customers more than you care about yourself, and you’ll do well” – Derek Sivers

Almost all “start your own business” advice makes you selfish.

If you’re starting a business is to “get rich” rather than “solve a problem”, you’re selfish.

Getting rich solves your problem. You’re taking something from the world to make your life better.

But getting rich, in and of itself, turns entrepreneurship from a generous creative act into a self-serving one. You should start a business because a group of people you care about have a problem you can solve.

Nassim Taleb said “entrepreneurs are the heroes of society”.

Except those who take large chunks of VC cash to sellout as quickly as possible. They’re playing the system for their own personal gain.

In Derek Sivers’ book, Anything You Want, he tells the story of a trip to a conference:

Someone asked him, “what if every musician setup their own store on their own website? Since that’d be the death of CDBaby, how do you plan to stop that?”

Sivers replied, “Honestly, I don’t care about CDBaby, I only care about the musicians. If some day, musicians don’t need CDBaby anymore, that’s great! I’ll just shut it down and get back to making music.”

The attendee was stunned. No one had ever given a response like that.

But of course it makes sense. You start a business to solve a problem. And you should get rewarded if you solve it. But once the problem is finally solved, you shouldn’t try to prolong it so you can get what you want.

That’s why Big Pharma sells you a cure, not prevention.

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