Why Entrepreneurs Must be Relentlessly Dedicated to Solving a Problem

in three feet of snow to get to school (AKA the world according to my Grandpa)”]Whether it’s running an Internet startup, a corner coffee shop or a non-profit organization, I’ve noticed that the entrepreneurs who tend to succeed aren’t typically the ones who are doing it to get rich.  Rather they are the ones who are relentlessly dedicatedto solving a problem.

Take Matt Ferstler, for example.  This past weekend, I was at a cancer conference in San Diego with Matt who founded a testicular cancer organization called Single Jingles after losing a testicle to cancer in 2009. [clever name, right?]

Matt was supposed to fly in from Austin on Thursday night, and I had planned on picking him up at the airport until a massive power outage in San Diego caused his flight to be diverted to Phoenix. When he arrived in Phoenix at 8 PM he was told that no flights would be leaving for San Diego for the next 24 hours.

What did he do next?  Well, instead of calling it quits and jumping on the next flight back home, Matt hopped into a rental car with a forty-six year old Romanian woman he met at the airport and drove seven Red Bull fueled hours to San Diego. He got in to the hotel at 3 AM , slept for a few hours and had his booth set up in the exhibit hall by 7:30 AM.

This is what I call being relentlessly dedicated to solving a problem.  Matt’s singular mission [no pun intended] is to make sure all young men know the importance of self-exams by 2016. In other words he wants dudes to check their balls.  For him, it’s personal, and he’s not going to let anything get in his way.  People who are mission driven have this type of dedication.

On the other hand, I’ve noticed that people who are solely driven by money, don’t typically possess this same dedication.  If your only goal is to make money, you’re not going to drive the seven hours with the  random Romanian lady to a conference that may not even have electricity.  It’s not rational or cost effective.   Perhaps this is the big difference between successful and unsuccessful entrepreneurs.  The passionate, mission driven entrepreneur is willing to ignore reason and do everything it takes to share her story.  The, rational, money driven person treats the situation as a sunk cost, and flies home.

Now, of course I’m not saying that everyone has to lose a body part or have a lofty goal like curing cancer in order to be dedicated to their mission.  But I will say that I am yet to see a successful entrepreneur whose primary motivation is to get rich. The type of relentless dedication that successful entrepreneurs all possess tends to come from a deep desire to solve a problem or make the world a tiny bit better in some unique way.

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9 thoughts on “Why Entrepreneurs Must be Relentlessly Dedicated to Solving a Problem

  1. adamo says:

    Right on, Amigo! Find that passion and the $ will follow…or so I believe. Looking into this myself!

  2. ethanaustin1 says:

    Thanks Adam. Let me know if/when you find it!

  3. I totally agree with this: “The passionate, mission driven entrepreneur is willing to ignore reason and do everything it takes to share her story.” I can’t say I’m really an entrepreneur looking to solve a problem necessarily, but I guess I am dedicated to fostering a special community goes beyond just the craft and writing worlds, that also hits up the chronically ill group of folks.

    My email signature quote is from William Blake: “I will not reason and compare:
    my business is to create.” I’m not big into crunching numbers but of course at some point I have to! But when driven and ambitious, the ideas and passion come first…only a little later do we then try to figure out how to sustain it, how to pay for things to keep these ideas and passion going.

    ps-will you marry me? (You suggested making marriage proposals and I hadn’t seen one yet in the comments!)

    • ethanaustin1 says:

      Thanks Alicia. Love the quote! As to the marriage proposal – let’s give it five years. If neither of us are married by that point, we got ourselves a deal. #safetyconewedding.

  4. Haha rad, I thought only peeps in the movies made these 5 year deals!

  5. Anonymous says:

    Another awesome post Ethan.

  6. […] Those virtual hugs kept us going because they gave us a glimmer of light during a year filled with self doubt. From these hugs, we knew we were building something important — something that was going to change peoples’ lives, and so we became relentlessly dedicated to solving this problem. […]

  7. […] people don’t do it for the money.  They do it because they are relentlessly dedicated about solving a problem and care beyond what is humanly possible.  Meet Chuck Templeton. Chuck is […]

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