Is it all about making money -- or is there something more?
Is there value in a mission about positive impact on the world? Is there a value in start-ups that are addressing issues of global climate change, hunger, poverty, potable water, the technology divide?
Is the passion and motivation of an entrepreneur committed to righting a wrong deeper and more profound than that of a entrepreneur starting up to strike it rich?
To me, it's not about money at all. Although making money is a part of it, I don't come up with new application ideas because I want to make money, but because I can't help but come up with a million ideas on a daily basis and I love developing new things.
I'm the sort of person that is always thinking, what kind of awesome application can I build that nobody else has done before? Only after I've finished the project or developed quite a bit of it do I think about the financials.
I'm a serial entrepreneur and in my opinion a real entrepeneur will always build something because it's an idea they think is great or they just love creating new things. VC's on the other hand, well, they're a whole other can of fish.
Just because you make a lot of money doesn't mean you have to keep it. You can right a lot of wrongs with your support, time, creativity, or checkbook.
For most people, it's not about the money. Or, if it's about the money, the point is to get money to enable you to do bigger and grander things.
Most true startup people I have known or worked with want to create something big, change the world, fix a problem and just generally have more productivity and creativity than what could be expressed at at an off the shelf 9-to-5.
I certainly want to provide a very comfortable life for myself and my wife so I can do the things I want to do, more often. But it's definitely about creating something. If I were to hit a goldmine idea, I would almost certainly use a decent portion of that to fund my next investment or idea. I just have too many ideas to sit still for too long. I think that creating jobs is another huge plus for the economy. They are sorely needed.
I hope not!
I believe the greatest motivator to do anything in our life is far more than money for money.
If we do anything just thinking about profits, it's call labour... and I believe (and hope, actually) that to make a startup succeed, is required more than money, but passion for what you're doing.
Do one thing thinking purely in profits, you'll get frustrated much faster than doing something only for the pleasure of have that thing done and working.
As others have said, it's not accurate to put 'Money' and 'Selfless Mother Theresa-like devotion to the problems of the world' as the two end points on a one dimensional axis of motivation. Both are the rare outcomes of the start-up process and not a reason to quit a good-job in favor of less or no pay and longer hours.
Brian and Dwayne are on the right track- we do it because we think new things are the ones most worth building. Money is just a way to keep score.
Create wealth by improving people's lives. I'd really suggest you stop looking at the world in such static terms.
Nope, it's just about making money - just ask Ayn Rand. "Atlas Shrugged " was recently made into a movie. The critics panned it. It grossed less than $500,000 and was unprofitable. I am sure that Stephen Colbert would agree that the marketplace spoke.
All right, I am being a bit tongue in cheek here but there is a point. Money matters. Even not-for-profit companies have to have enough cash to do what they do. Sam Walton used to say, "Put all your eggs in one basket. Then watch that basket." If you watch your basket, you will have the resources to do lots of things. Making more money may be among them. But hopefully you have more imagination than that.
I want to have a job that I really look forward to going to every day. I don't want to have any anxiety about a decision made by someone else that serves to inflate their ego or line their pockets to throw my life in to chaos.
For me, the motivation behind starting and running my own business comes down to day-to-day job satisfaction and controlling my own destiny.
Money is simply units of knowledge about one's buying power. Money itself is worthless. You can't eat it. You can't drink it, and you can't use it for shelter.
In this world, money can buy the things we humans need: food, shelter, independence etc - with one conditions -- humanity should still be organized and governments should be in place. In a post apocalyptic world where no government exists, money can be used to keep you warm at night when you burn it and currency quickly becomes much more tangible, like it used to be before the invention of "paper & coin" money.
Do we work for money? no. We work for the things money can get us and then for self fulfillment, fun, etc. Money is means, not goal. It's pretty much described here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maslow 's_hierarchy_of_needs