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Why The Best Entrepreneurs Don't Set Out to Be Rich

Dec 21 2013, 4:46am CST | by

Why The Best Entrepreneurs Don't Set Out to Be Rich
Photo Credit: Forbes

For the longest time, I couldn’t understand the over-arching philosophy of two of the greatest college coaches I have ever seen.

Neither UCLA’s John Wooden, perhaps the best basketball coach on any level at any time (and a man I have written about before), nor Nick Saban, the head football coach at Alabama, ever talk about winning, when asked about what they are trying to accomplish.

Their focus, they said, was on getting their teams to constantly improve and concentrate on doing the right things consistently,

If they did that, both coaches argued, the wins would follow.

Eventually, I understood what they were saying.

Their records–Wooden’s was 664-162 and Saban is 165-56-1 in college–and all the national championships (Wooden: 10: Saban: 4) they won proves they were right to concentrate on the details and not the end result (which they believe will take care of itself.)

And I got reconfirmation of their approach when I began looking at the track records of the most successful entrepreneurs.

The best ones don’t have making a fortune–winning in the eyes of most people–as their goal, as they start off. Wealth is just (an extremely pleasant) byproduct of finding a market need and filling it to the best of their ability.

Why not focus on gaining wealth?

Well, if your primary objective is to get rich quick, you are bound to cut corners, short-change your customers, and fail to take the time to truly understand what the market needs. And that, by the way, is true whether you are trying to get your company off the ground, or are introducing a new product or service in order to make this quarter’s numbers.

It is simply the wrong path to take.

As we have written about before, if you don’t understand what the market wants, you are making your life far harder than it has to be.

So instead of seeking riches, the best entrepreneurs decide that they are going to:

a)   Focus on an area where they feel strong, one that

b)   There appears to be a market need.

That’s the place where they start to build their companies.

If they are right about that market need, and have the ability to fill it, then riches–just like winning in the case of Wooden and Saban–become natural byproducts of doing everything it takes to satisfy a customer the first time every time.

The moral: If you focus on doing the right things–and succeed at doing them–you will be rewarded.


Paul B. Brown is co-author of Just Start published by Harvard Business Review Press.

Please note his blog appears every Sunday and Wednesday, with the occassional extra post like today.

Click on the “Following” button to get every new blog post as soon as its goes live.

Source: Forbes

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