Why Purpose Is the Most Important Attribute an Entrepreneur Can Have

What are the absolutely essential ingredients for being a successful entrepreneur? To me, assuming someone has even a base level of talent, a person’s desire to run a business would be the most important factor to their success. It sounds so simple, but if someone has a strong “why” behind what they do, there is an almost unstoppable life force that will propel them.

The world seems to be organized around the power of purpose. Napoleon Hill wrote about this in his book Think and Grow Rich. Basically, the stronger your why, the better your chances are at being successful. If you start a business, there will be inevitable and serious setbacks to your success. So, you need overwhelming drive, which comes from a sense of purpose.

But where does the why come from? Usually, it comes from either some kind of deficit in your life that you want to overcome or from a deep desire to serve others through rendering your product or service. Therefore, it seems paradoxical to me that someone’s why can come from something negative (a deficit of some kind) or something positive (a desire to serve).

I suppose there can also be a combination of the two. I think if we were really honest, many of us would recognize that we are at least partially trying to fill in some holes in our lives by being entrepreneurs. For example, I work with many people who have been in prison to help them start their own businesses.

I don’t like to label a whole population of people around their motives, but many people who have been judicially involved are trying to fill a hole in their lives. By the way, these holes are not always mindsets or psychological ones. They can be, for example, a desire for enough money to adequately provide for a family. A lack of money and everything attached to that is a profound motivator for most people who live in scarcity.

However, I believe that most entrepreneurs are filling deeper holes than economic ones. They usually have some kind of chip on their shoulder or something in their life that they want to prove or disprove.

I wonder, what is the greater motivational force–trying to make up for what you don’t have or trying to complete some higher purpose? Eight-time Grand Slam champion Andre Agassi pointed out the truth about this higher purpose I’m talking about. He said, “Remember this. Hold on to this. This is the only perfection there is–the perfection of helping others. This is the only thing we can do that has any lasting meaning. This is why we’re here.”

To me, he was pointing out the need to create something bigger than ourselves. In this way, if I have to guess, the motivation to serve other people probably outweighs the need to fill a personal hole. Of course, this has limits because people have different sizes of holes.

The most important thing to convey is that you should not start a business without a very strong purpose, because starting a business takes grit and nerves. What will get you through the long nights isn’t the promise of flashy success or a lot of money, but rather, being reminded that you are creating something bigger than yourself.

How do you know what that is? Ask yourself these two questions. Number one, what would I do for free? And number two, what am I doing to uplift others around me? The first question should point you toward what you’re passionate about, and the second one pushes you to turn that passion into purpose. Your purpose will sustain you in the long run–so go find it.