Why I'm Starting a Company
July 3rd, 2022
Yesterday, Victor asked me why I want to start a company and he showed me this article written by Daniel Gross of Pioneer Labs about what motivates people Fuel Materials. Daniel believes everyone is motivated by a combination of the following:
- financial freedom
- the scene
I looked through it and though my initial answer was a mix of financial freedom (2), status (3), adventure (5), curiosity(7), and craftsmanship(8), if I had to choose, my top two would have to be adventure (5) and curiosity. (7) This is a big change from my motivations for the past few years.
Money If you were to have asked me what my main motivations for wanting to start a company were any time in the past few years, I would’ve said money or financial freedom and power. Upon feeling selfish, I reflected on why I wanted to make an obscene amount of money. After repeatedly asking myself “why” (via the Honda 5 why’s method), it boiled down to freedom. Freedom to do anything I wanted in life. Not just being financially secure in the “have enough money to survive” sense, but in the I can fund any project I wanted, influence anything, say anything I wanted, do anything I want, and experience anything in the kind of luxury.
Two realizations made me realize why money is not a primary motivation for me anymore. First, I’ve realized that I’m actually quite content with my current lifestyle. Though I want to be able to fly first class one day, I find meaningful work to be more desirable to me. I only need to be making $100,000 in San Francisco to be quite happy with my standard of living. What’s more important to me is my personal health, friends, family, loved ones, and meaningful work. Second, I have a safety net not just from my savings that I’ve accumulated over the past years, but I know that even without my savings I’d be be with the skills that I’ve accumulated over my life and those skills are sufficient to make me at least $100,000 and be happy. Additionally, I’ll inherit some money from my parents so I don’t need to worry about retirement. Thus I already feel financially free.
Status Status was another important goal for me in the past. but I don’t want status from things such has having a Tesla Model S by saving up and buying it. I want to be able to buy a yacht without needing to think about it, yet still not buy it. I basically want to really be rich, not just look rich. And I’m willing to wait 10-20+ years to get there. I have no desire to rush it, rewards come to those who wait. (in fact the most successful humans ar the ones who are able to plan long-term and delay gratification).
However, since a few weeks ago that I’ve actually started to take actionable steps in working on a company. I was first reading a lot about idea generation and evaluation, coming up with 30-40 ideas and then going through each of them in a systematic way, then reading about idea validation and scheduling calls with people, cold messaging 50 people on LinkedIn, asking people in my network for warm intros. Doing this at night after my full-time job and on weekends from morning to evening.
Now, as I’ve been forced to learn about sales, asking the right questions, improving my cold email response rates, I’ve learned how much I don’t know and how much there is for me to learn. The journey to $1,000 monthly recurring revenue (MRR) for me right now is long and it doesn’t even seem like there is a certain path to get there. However, it excites me that it is possible, many other people have done it, and that I have much to learn that isn’t engineering.
Working on a company by solely focusing on the end goal, such as creating a billion dollar company can seem very daunting.
Focusing on step at a time. Just like when I was training for my Ironman and later doing it, one technique that everybody learns is to divide and conquer only focus on the next step. You break down the 140.6-mile race into the swim, you break the bike ride down into 5-mile segments, and you always only focus on the next segment. You break down the run into 1-2 mile segments and always focus on the next. During the last few miles when your body is on the verge of giving up and the pain becomes intolerable, you focus on the next step ahead of you. When I heard about this from other people, I didn’t think that I would feel that way and that I’d be different, but that was exactly how I felt.
Have you ever been really into a game for months and then one day decide to use a cheat code? Then after using cheat codes for just a few days, you get sick of the game and stop playing it for good? If you hadn’t used the cheat code you would still be enjoying the game. It’s the same thing with life, the fun in life is about the challenges and getting there. The goal is important, because it gives you a direction to head in and the journey then becomes all about figuring it out and doing everything it takes to get there. The fun isn’t in the end itself.
The other reason why I believe in focusing on the journey is that it not only makes it easier via chunking, but that if the journey isn’t enjoyable, why would you spend 5-10 years of your life doing something that you don’t enjoy? Even if it does give you financial freedom, or status, or power, that seems very depressing. It makes sense to sacrifice short-term pleasure for long-term fulfillment, but it’s not fun if you sacrifice all short-term pleasure for long-term fulfillment.
I am excited about the end goal, but what truly excites me is the journey and the challenge of getting there.
So, the journey is why I’m starting a company. It’s the reason why I wanted to do an Ironman, it’s the reason why want to climb the tallest mountains on each mountain. Life isn’t just about the stats that you collect at the end of life, it’s about the journey.