Photo: Olu Eletu

I’m Not Going To Chase A Billion Dollars.


I will never be a billionaire. I’m never going to have enough money to buy Yachts like their cash-price is chump change. My pocket money won’t put people in space or solve the crushing problems of globalisation.

On a related note, I’m never going to be the CEO of The Largest Company In The World Dot Com. That’s just not going to happen either. I’ll never rule over a kingdom that I’ve subversively dubbed a “Campus” in the interests of attracting MBAs and child-geniuses.

The reason is — I‘m not interested in the compromises, deals or decisions that I would have to make in order to have a slight chance of getting there.

Photo: Martin Ceralde

A billion dollar company doesn’t usually happen without taking on investors, taking in millions (or billions) in funding, nailing a board of directors to your back, chasing an IPO…all of these things sound like my worst nightmare. I’m not interested in building pitch decks for rich people to look at when I could be building something worthwhile. Even if I could somehow motivate myself to go through that process, would there be a real chance of “making it?” Probably not, no. And whatever I’m trying to build will have to be compromised into the bargain.

Chasing a billion dollars isn’t cool to me. I know that founders read blog posts and books about billion dollar companies and it lights a fire inside that makes them want to somehow crush the statistics and dominate the world. But realistically, looking at what’s required to take my shot, it’s not worth the time, the blood, the sweat or the tears. Chasing a billion dollars is a great way to waste my life. And for me, it also misses the point of starting a business.

The point of starting a business is to build and sell something to people who really want it, and do it at a profit. And then use that money to hire a great team, and build even better things. Anything more than that is superfluous.

Everyone has to find their own motivation behind starting a business. It’s going to be different for a lot of people, in a lot of ways. But if that motivation doesn’t align with the point of business in the first place, it’s wrong.

Here’s my motivation: I want to start a business because I want freedom, independence and the room to create products and services that matter deeply to me. I also want to make money. I want enough money to buy a gorgeous apartment and a fast car and new sneakers when I want them. That sounds like a sweet life, and I can’t wait to have it.

But I’m well aware that I don’t have to be trying to chase a billion dollar company to get there. All I have to do is build a successful business. That business has to have a bottom line, and it has to take in more money than it spends.

That’s not such a complicated thing to do. In fact, the equation that represents it is so simple that even I can understand it.

Profit = selling price — cost price

Loss = cost price — selling price

There’s something comforting about that. Getting to the point where I’m taking in money that covers my costs and leaves profit isn’t usually something that is going to require VC’s, Angels or anything else. Are there exceptions to this? Sure. Do those exceptions make me wrong? Nope.

I’m not going to spend my professional and personal life in the pursuit of a billion dollars. It’s not going to be a good use of my time and it won’t give me a satisfying life. What I am going to do is work on building and growing a successful business from scratch. That’s good enough for me. It might not get me on stage at a pitching contest and it probably won’t land me on TechCrunch. The start-up scene might look down on it. But it will make money and it will make me happy. That’s enough.

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