The Power of WHY in Becoming an Entrepreneur
I am an entrepreneur. What does that mean? To most people, it means the standard definition of the word, the person who “organizes, manages, and assumes the risks of a business or enterprise.”
To me, it means something more. It is not only someone who decided to build something out of nothing. It's someone who wakes up every day not knowing exactly what to expect. It’s someone who jumped off the ledge without a parachute. I often say I’m at the crossroads of being broke and being a billionaire. It’s an emotional rollercoaster, filled with heartbreak, glory, stress and immense satisfaction.
For those of you who understand what I’m saying, I’m sure you can relate. But, for everyone else, for those of you who are wondering what it's like to be an entrepreneur, let me give you some personal insight. Let me take you out of the glorified media bubble of billion-dollar exits and pretty-colored unicorns. Let me tell you a secret, just between us: It is a damn war. I wake up every day uncertain. I am a deal away from glory and an event away from failure. One day is the best day of your life, followed by the worst day of your life. One day you are a hero and the next day you are a big fat zero.
So, now that you know the truth and we got that out of the way, let's talk about why we do this and why we put ourselves through this gauntlet of craziness. Why would we cut ourselves, roll around in sea salt, get up and shower and do it all over again?
The number one misconception is that we do it all for the money. For those of you who are thinking about hopping in this crazy game and you want to do it just for the money then let me pose a few questions to you. If you’re thinking solely of your mansion on Star Island, your G6 and your Bugatti Veyron, how are you going to think of ways you can create value for your clients? If you’re sitting there dreaming of market share and billion-dollar opportunities and only thinking about how much you can capitalize, how can you come up with ideas to enhance your user experience? While you are sitting in your bedroom thinking of trips to Aspen, Mojitos in Miami and dinners on the French Riviera, clients need help, people need better experiences and industries in general need to be disrupted.
Please don’t get me wrong. I’m a true capitalist, through and through. I just know that money is a measurement of creating value. If you’re focused on only making money for yourself, then you cannot be focused on creating that value that you need to attract clients and potentially make a profit.
Now that we know it’s not entirely about the bling, then one may ask, “Why do we do what we do?” For me the answer is in the question itself. The answer to “why we do what we do, is the WHY.
The WHY helps me get through my day. The WHY gets me through the sleepless nights and the WHY motivates me to build the best products and services that I can build. If you know WHY, it helps you answer any question you may have or deal with any issue that will 100 percent happen to you.
For me, the WHY is that I want to connect different people together through entrepreneurship. I believe that different cultures throughout time have broken down political and social boundaries through working with each other to achieve common goals. I believe that collaboration is a byproduct of evolution and we will become a better world when we decide to all work together.
I know that this may seem a bit like I see the world through rose-colored glasses, but I have seen it with my own eyes. Through my work with AlleyNYC I have seen all types of people, from all different backgrounds work with each other. The political rhetoric that floods our media and forces its ugly face in our lives daily becomes irrelevant as people work in teams to build products and services. These people are working on their own version of their WHY and not listening to the noise around them.
Through my work with the U.S. State Department, I’ve witnessed completely different cultures creating amazing products that are being used globally. I’ve seen students learning creative methods that were inspired by other cultures in order to build solutions to problems they are trying to solve. While bombs were going off in the background, a group of young entrepreneurs were working on their WHY while talking to me thousands of miles away. Let's break this down a bit: a bunch of Palestinians in Gaza building tech products talking to a Jewish guy from Long Island. (Huge S/O to GAZA Sky Geeks.) I have witnessed the power of meaningful connections and my goal is to connect the world together through entrepreneurship.
The WHY is why I do what I do and it motivates me every day to push on. The WHY also helps me in day-to-day situations. It helps me answer client and investor questions and helps me make decisions on best practices for my business and community. Believe me, some decisions may not look like the best thing to do at the time. However, the WHY always shines through in the end. It keeps you honest, it keeps you humble and it keeps you on task.
My ultimate advice is, learn your WHY. Find passion in your WHY and feel the purpose behind your WHY. After you learn it, live it, breath it, never, ever, EVER, lose sight of the WHY. HUSTLE ON.
Jason Saltzman is a seasoned entrepreneur with a background in sales and marketing. Through his role as CEO of Alley and as a TechStars mentor, he advises hundreds of startups, offering real-life practical application and creative marketing advice.