Chapter 8

Purpose

As long as you’re making the world better in an honest way by selling a product worth paying for to a community that wants it, starting a company is worth it.

You may be asking yourself if now is the best time to start a company. There is a lot broken with the world, and the future is uncertain. If you think starting a business looks risky, you’re right: It is and always will be. But I believe it’s one of the best ways to make change.

I don’t think healing the world only happens if we are able to make “a dent in the universe,” as Steve Jobs is famously misquoted; it also comes about by repeatedly making small choices that compound and that improve our communities. You can’t change everything, but you can and should change a few things, to start.

illustration of man walking

The reward, once you’re profitable and growing sustainably because your customers are spreading the word, is that you get to decide what your company’s next positive impact will be. I know that once Gumroad got to that point, it was easier for me to focus on a more meaningful life. But it still wasn’t easy. I had to wrestle with a new definition of success, one that would be defined by a greater sense of purpose and mission.

“A healthy man wants a thousand things, a sick man only wants one,” Confucius is purported to have said, and a minimalist entrepreneur without a successful, sustainable business only wants one thing (that!), while one who has achieved it has the world as their oyster. 

This is all part of what you get—for taking the risk, doing the hard work, and putting in the time to start and to scale your business—whether you like it or not. Now that you’ve arrived at your initial destination, where do you go next? 

The answer is that I don’t know. This question never goes away, and there will never be one right answer for every founder. This is why you should always try to build the right business for yourself selfishly, while also serving a community of others selflessly, all at the same time. And you should prioritize your happiness while you do it!

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