Phil Libin: Reasons Not to be an Entrepreneur | Summary and Q&A

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October 18, 2011
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Stanford eCorner
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Phil Libin: Reasons Not to be an Entrepreneur

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Summary

In this video, the speaker discusses the most common bad reasons for becoming an entrepreneur and advises against pursuing entrepreneurship for the wrong motivation. The speaker emphasizes that wanting to make money, seeking power, desiring more flexibility, or having any other shallow reasons are not viable motivations for entrepreneurship. However, if the goal is to change the world and make a meaningful impact, then it is a great time to become an entrepreneur.

Questions & Answers

Q: What is the number one bad reason for being an entrepreneur?

The number one bad reason for being an entrepreneur is the desire to make money. Becoming an entrepreneur solely for the purpose of making money is a flawed perspective, as statistics show that the majority of companies fail. It is important to realize that entrepreneurship is not a guaranteed path to financial success, and one must consider other factors before diving into it.

Q: Why is it not wise to become an entrepreneur if the goal is to optimize for lifetime earnings?

If one's main goal is to optimize lifetime earnings, then becoming an entrepreneur is not the best choice. As statistics reveal, the failure rate of startups is relatively high, and the expected case for financial success is not guaranteed. In comparison, pursuing a stable job, such as becoming a banker, would offer higher earning potential with less risk. Therefore, if optimizing lifetime earnings is the priority, entrepreneurship may not be the ideal path.

Q: What misconception does the speaker address regarding having power as an entrepreneur?

The speaker addresses the misconception that being an entrepreneur grants power and places one at the top of a hierarchical pyramid. In reality, the power dynamics are quite different. When one becomes a CEO of a startup, everyone becomes their boss. The speaker compares the pyramid structure to an inverted one, where the CEO is at the bottom and their employees, investors, customers, and even the media become their bosses. Thus, seeking entrepreneurship for power is misguided.

Q: Why is the desire for more flexibility not a valid reason to become an entrepreneur?

Some individuals consider entrepreneurship as a means to gain more flexibility in terms of working hours. However, the speaker highlights that as an entrepreneur, one may end up working even longer hours than a traditional 9-to-5 job. Entrepreneurs often work tirelessly, often up to 20 hours a day, to establish and maintain their ventures. Therefore, if the goal is purely to have more control over working hours, entrepreneurship may not be the best avenue.

Q: What is the speaker's advice for those considering entrepreneurship for bad reasons?

The speaker advises individuals who are considering entrepreneurship for shallow reasons to think twice before pursuing it. While it is beneficial to learn about entrepreneurship and take classes on the subject, it is important to have a genuine and impactful motivation to become an entrepreneur. Simply wanting to make money, seeking power, or desiring more flexibility are not sufficient reasons. It is better to explore other avenues or careers rather than pursuing entrepreneurship for the wrong motivations.

Q: What is the speaker's perspective on becoming an entrepreneur to change the world?

The speaker believes that if the motivation behind becoming an entrepreneur is to change the world and create a fundamental impact on the universe, it is an unparalleled time to do so. Genuine intentions and a clear vision of how one wants to bring about change can serve as the driving force behind a successful entrepreneurial journey. In such cases, entrepreneurship becomes a strategic platform to make a meaningful difference and create a lasting impact.

Takeaways

In summary, seeking entrepreneurship solely for financial gain, power, flexibility, or any other shallow reasons is not recommended. The failure rate of startups and the potential for higher lifetime earnings in other professions make it a less favorable choice for those seeking immediate financial success. However, if the goal is to change the world and make a substantial impact, then entrepreneurship becomes an unparalleled opportunity. Having a clear vision and a genuine desire to bring about change can drive a successful entrepreneurial journey.

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