On why we build businesses

I recently listened to episode 178 of The Art of Product podcast “Why Build A Business At All?” and it’s had me thinking ever since. I would imagine a high percentage of us at IH are developers and the one thing that we know about development right now is that in most countries, we are very well paid.

So why do we yearn to build a business? Why do we want the instability of managing and generating our own income? Of putting so much of ourselves into what we make?

Building a business is brutal. Even if we “make it” we will have some of the darkest and lowest days of our lives caused by it.

I have first-hand experience of this. Running a manufacturing business for 8 years, that I cofounded straight out of university, left me in perpetual financial limbo, sometimes making a lot, other times barely scraping by. We were featured on TechCrunch, sold tens of thousands of products, and employed a staff of 10 …. and even then we failed in the end!

Losing that business has left a scar on my soul that is only just starting to fade after 2 years.

I’m not that emotional, but telling a room full of staff that it’s over and seeing a couple of burley manufacturing men in their 50s shed a tear was a stark reminder we were losing something special. I’m not ashamed to say that I joined them in that meeting.

And here I am again, back at it with a small info product to dip my toe back in the water.

Why though?

I just went through my family’s finances ready for two upcoming job changes and I don’t need to do this, we are fine, more than fine!

So really, why do this?

I think I’ve nailed it down to two things, that when combined, drive me to build a business again:

  1. For me, building is a compulsion. I can’t help it. I want to turn something from an idea in my mind to something I can hold, point at or share with people. "I did that!"

  2. Without ownership of something I feel empty, I’ll happily do over 60 hours a week for basically no pay if I know that I get to reap the long-term value of my labor. Trading time for money with a salary feels like resetting at the start of each month, someone else gets to realize the long-term value from my efforts.

I sometimes wish I were “normal”. Like my buddies, able to happily clock in and clock out, but my brain's not wired that way it seems.

So that’s why I’m getting back in the game.

If you have time this Sunday I would love to hear your reasons.

  1. 2

    Thanks for sharing this, Simon! Tough to hear about you losing your business, but hopefully you have a lot of learnings from that experience which will help you this time around. I think you are spot on with your points, indie hacking feels more like a lifestyle and self-fulfillment than just a way to generate income. Wish you all the best with your new business!

    1. 1

      Thanks, yes I think lifestyle is a great work for it

  2. 2

    I feel the same. I haven’t had a success in over 5 years with startups and had to move to USA to get a job, in which I made 5 times more in 2 years than what I made in 5 years. I am fine financially for these 2 years but still there is no satisfaction work wise so I am now spending time on IH and launching micro startups. I too wish many times I were normal like my buddies but honestly we cant. Thanks for sharing and reminding me I am not alone.

    1. 1

      I think "micro startup" is a great way to describe it. Like @AndreyAzimov 's Hardcore year I guess?

  3. 2

    You have pretty much nailed it on the head. Trading time for money where someone else gets to reap the long term benefit is not something that I want to do.

    And yeah, entrepreneurship is brutal.

    1. 1

      Thanks, yep very unsatisfying to know someone else gets the benefit. I do an awesome job when working for other people but it feels very empty.

  4. 2

    Trading time for money and building someone elses dreams are my anti-goals. Two things that drive me towards creating and building my own business.

    Like you said, working 60 hours for something that will benefit me in the long term is worth it. Working 60 hours only to receive another allotment of 60 hours the following week is not something I want to endure anymore.

    Thanks for sharing mate.

    1. 2

      "another allotment of 60 hours the following week" made me laugh out loud, that's the best way of putting it.

      Thanks for the comment 😀

    1. 1

      Thanks for reading 😀

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