I met an entrepreneur in Iceland named Haukur. We spoke a lot about entrepreneurship and the challenges that we each face. We spoke for hours, but one thing he said really stuck with me.
I told him that a big dilemma I sometimes face is that I want to travel the world, but I also want to build a legit company. I don’t feel that it’s possible to build a real company and constantly travel since you won’t be in one place to bring the team together and you won’t really be able to dedicate the time needed to get a company off the ground.
He told me I was looking at it the wrong way. He said “your goal shouldn’t just be to build a company, your goal should be to be happy, and that you should focus on building whatever it takes to achieve that goal.”
There’s this common perception that in order to be a happy entrepreneur, you have to raise a lot of money, build a large team, change the world, etc… If you’re not shooting for the stars, you’re not successful enough to be happy.
The thing is, the entrepreneurs who have succeeded in that regard did so, because that’s what made them happy (or it didn’t and then they still weren’t happy). That doesn’t mean that the same thing will make you happy.
First, figure out what makes you happy (not easy). Then, build around that.
So, if traveling is what makes you happy, build a company that allows you to work remotely at different hours.
If your family is what makes life worth living, make sure you build a company that allows you to spend as much time with your family as possible.
If building a massive company and working long hours truly is what makes you happy, then that’s what you should do.
There isn’t any one way for everyone to build a company, but there is an ideal way for you to build your company, and that’s by building it for the life you want to live.
Entrepreneurs are who they are because they envision the life they want to live, and they make it happen. They envision a world they want to live in, and they pursue that vision.
And yes, it’s still possible to build billion dollar companies while also spending a significant amount of time with family and friends, doing things that make you happy. Martin Varsavksy proved it (click to watch his video at Le Web).
This concept doesn’t just apply to founders, it also applies for employees. Employees will be happy if the way they want to live a happy life is in line with the culture of the company.
Some teams have worked really well without an office, with everyone working remotely. Others have tried that and fallen flat on their face. That’s not necessarily because it wasn’t right for their company. Most likely, it just wasn’t a match with how the people in that company wanted to live a happy life.
We’re entrepreneurs because we don’t like living by someone else’s agenda. We want to live and work by our own agenda. It should be an agenda that makes you happy.
Yes we want to help other people and improve lives, but by ensuring your happiness first, you might actually succeed.