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Best of Bootstrapping: Excess is NOT Required for Success

Posted on Friday, Feb 8th 2019

Let’s do a thought experiment.

List all the things you want to do with your life if you had additional resources.

How many of these require additional money?

How much additional money do you need to acquire to afford these things?

How many of these require additional time?

There are a few ways to acquire additional money through entrepreneurship:

  1. You build a company to a point and sell it
  2. You build a company and take it public
  3. You build a company and neither sell it, nor take it public, but just keep paying yourself more

And variations thereof.

Through recent media coverage, you may have come to believe that Entrepreneurship Success = Unicorn Exit, Unicorn = Billion Dollar Valuation in an acquisition or an IPO.

The truth, as I pointed out in my recent Bootstrapping to Exit article, is that most acquisitions happen in the sub $50 million exit price range.

In my book, an entrepreneur who builds a company for $5 million in capital and sells it for $50 million is a solid success.

In my book, an entrepreneur who builds a company that generates $10 million in revenue a year and pays himself a million a year is ALSO a success.

My point is that the definition of success is personal.

I suggest you read French Existentialist Albert Camus’ The Myth of Sisyphus, where the author explores what constitutes the ‘meaning of life’.

If you give the subject some deep deliberation, you will soon come to the conclusion that chasing Unicorns does not necessarily equate with a meaningful life.

Define for yourself what does.

Balance all the components of what your personal definition of success constitutes.

For me, having delicious home cooked meals on a regular basis with family and friends is a big factor in the success equation.

But cooking requires time.

Building a close-knit family requires time.

Developing and sustaining close friendships requires time.

I have a deep interest in Art and Culture, which requires time.

I have a profound commitment to making a fundamental impact on the entrepreneurship ecosystem of the world, which requires time.

If I am willing to trade all those important factors off in the pursuit of Unicorns, will I end up with a meaningful life at the end of the day?

I don’t think so.

Thus, I have firmly and decisively concluded that Excess is NOT a Requirement for Success.


This segment is a part in the series : Best of Bootstrapping

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