Enjoying the process of growing a business--ambiguity, imperfections and all--is crucial to attaining satisfaction. If you don't like a good, gritty challenge, entrepreneurship isn't for you.
But embracing ambiguity also comes into play when the subject is money. In fact, money may be the cruelest yardstick of all. Dallmann sums it up precisely: "There are two sides to money. There's the money you need to survive--your bottom line. And then there's money as a mark of success. And on that side, there's a potential for never having enough. Any increase means an increase in your level of success."
So where do you draw the line? Developing a healthy attitude toward money is essential whether your business is floundering or flourishing--indeed, it can be most important in the midst of a boom. Todd Krizelman and Stephan Paternot, both 25, know a thing or two about the dual faces of fortune. As co-founders and co-CEOs of theglobe.com, an online community with about 2.5 million members, they've built their business from a virtual zero five years ago--sliding by with a $15,000 investment from friends and family, and by paying employees with pizza--to a hot commodity. The partners pulled off a successful initial public offering last year, enriching themselves and their investors by millions. And independent analysts project revenues of $20 million for the company this year, up from $5.5 million last year.
Krizelman and Paternot are hardly euphoric, however. "We understand why people might hear our story and think we're living a fairy tale," says Paternot. "But from our perspective, we've been working very, very hard. There have been a lot of miserable times when we didn't know what we were going to do. When you've gone through everything we've gone through, none of it seems like a fairy tale. An adventure, maybe--a tough adventure."
"Certainly, we've made more money for ourselves, our investors and our families than we expected we would," adds Krizelman. "But we're always battling to grow the company. When you have competition like we do, it's not enough to be fiscally satisfied."
"We certainly can't say we've made a few dollars and are ready to cash in," agrees Paternot.
Neither would most entrepreneurs, at age 20-something--perhaps even at any age. In an era of prosperity--and sometimes even great wealth--money takes on a subtler significance. Clearly, business isn't much fun without it. But even with lots of money, business is still business. It's about creating jobs, developing a team, producing a product and contributing to the world. Or it'd better be. Because money is too volatile a thing to be the sole bearer of satisfaction.