Last week I went to an event. The event was called “Start to Exit.” I felt very lucky to be there because the Dallas-based entrepreneurs who had achieved successful exits panel discussion was marketed to investors and a few select entrepreneurs. (“Join us for a special conversation about billion dollar exits happening in Dallas and who is next in line…”) Given the panel members, and the content, it was curious as to why they created such an elite gathering. The questions did not match the tagline… and “who is next” was certainly not discussed. But, alas, I was honored to be a face in the crowd - as awkward as I felt and as underdressed as I was.
The entrepreneurs in the panel shared many tidbits of advice, but there was one piece that stuck out to me as intriguing given the marketed topic and underlying frustration in the Dallas startup community:
Don’t [start your own company] for the money.
It was super super easy for these guys to say that (of course) when they sold their companies for a cool $2,000,000,000 - billion… nine zeros. But the sentiment is valid, regardless of how much money was made.
Entrepreneurship is a risk. Starting your own company is a risk. It’s one that some are willing (or more willing) to take than others. If you decide that you’re going to start your own company to have a billion dollar exit (or even just to make money in general), you’re starting the wrong company. You have to believe that the company you’re starting will make changes. You have to believe that the product/service that you’re bringing to market will improve the lives of others. You have to be committed, focused, and driving with all of your attention towards realizing that mission and vision. The money is a byproduct of your successful/amazing/fabulous execution. Money is not the reason to start.
The Dallas community can be frustrated that there haven’t been more exits. But the focus should not be on the exit. It should be on supporting the entrepreneurs and the investors to take shots worth taking, build teams worth building, and solve problems worth solving.
And in that breath, I must confess, I joined a team. I joined a team that I believe is improving the lives of those that it touches. I didn’t join a team, nor a company, for the money. Rather, I joined a team because I believe in the product, the solutions, and the people who I will be working with. Given all that you know about me, and all that you’ve read, I believe that you will be pleased to find that our hearts are aligned and are missions complement each other.
My mission: To help people and companies present themselves more effectively. You could call it experience design (subtract the UI/UX and add the marketing/operations), but at it’s core it’s creating a consistent representation of a person’s or a company’s brand and message across all of their platforms.
See for yourself. I’m excited to get started!