You Don’t Need an Investor to Become an Entrepreneur

We’ve reached the last week of our entrepreneurship theme on the Smartplan Blog. The last post is written by one of the founders of Smartplan, Mathias Aggerbo, and it gives his view on funding. He questions the massive focus on funding and the millions that might follow.

The Global Entrepreneurship Week (week 47) is in full swing. The global focus this year is helping everyone dreaming of becoming their own boss taking the next step. In Denmark, the focus is especially on teaching children and young people what entrepreneurship is about. I think that’s amazing, as I would have loved learning more about entrepreneurship, when I was in school.

In connection with week 47 and the enhanced focus on entrepreneurship, I have reflected upon what it is that makes entrepreneurship so popular among young people. We’ve seen the dragons on BBC evaluate, invest and criticise. I steadfastly sat watching the Danish counterpart every Tuesday on television, and I thought it was great TV. But I also wondered why so many were willing to give up large parts of their companies for relatively small amounts, just to get an investment.

In general, I wonder about the major focus on investment. Why do entrepreneurs want an investment that early as self-employed? What is the motivation? Is it the millions or, sometimes even, the billions? I get it, if that is what’s tempting. For most of us, starting your own company is associated with a desire for profit. I just think that it’s a distorted picture that many think that a big investment and high evaluation is equal to great profit. Also, there are no short cuts when starting a company. It’s one long marathon, and even though money is suitable as a means of payment, I firmly believe that it’s not the best motivator for your company.

I think it’s a shame that colleagues and the media put so much focus on these investments. Where’s the story in all this? There’s so much focus on the idea, investment and the opportunity to make it big, that the story becomes secondary. I, personally, have always found great inspiration in looking at other people’s paths to success and how they established their company. I love books that tell the story of a company. I devour programmes about other entrepreneurs. These stories are not about pitches, KPIs and other tedious investor-related themes.

When Ole Kirk Christiansen (founder of LEGO) had his idea of wooden toys, the first order of the day was not to ask for money. Instead he began making the toys from left-over wood he had laying around. And he made an effort. Ole Kirk went from door to door and sold the toys. He started on his own without a big marketing budget or focus on scaling. From door to door, customer to customer, Ole Kirk laid the foundation of LEGO. One sale at a time, one customer at a time. That’s organic growth, driven by the will to create something and get food on the table.

To start your own company is about creating something from scratch and making your own utopia along the way. Make the rules of your existence, find out what type you want to be and how you want to treat your customers. Who you are and what you make – that’s what your customers buy. And if they buy enough from you, you can maintain your utopia. If not, you can correct the errors and try again. I don’t get why only few entrepreneurs want this?

Why are so many driven by the want to get an investment and a board to rule over you? As opposed to the best thing about being self-employed: to create something from scratch that is of value to others and which you can sell with the goal of a profit. This is what enTitle s the existence of your company. Your existence.

It’s simple and transparent. If what you make creates value, your customers will pay for your product. As long as you create value and don’t spend more money than you have, your company will exist and you can make the rules. You don’t need investors’ money. You don’t need a board’s advice. You don’t have to sell out owner’s shares. You just have to start. Your customers are your best advisers, not a board.

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