Congratulating an entrepreneur on raising funds…

… is like congratulating a chef on buying vegetables! Said a LinkedIn influencer recently. I couldn’t help but think about the role an entrepreneur plays in the grander scheme of our society. Is their role simply restricted to raise funds to build their companies or perish? Is their success measured of how quickly they scale their companies using other people’s money? Are we taking entrepreneurship and their ability to raise capital for granted?

A lot of questions came to my mind as the statement just didn’t sit well with me. Being an entrepreneur can also mean the following:

  1. Creating a revolution
  2. Bootstrapping a small business that serves a cause that’s bigger than themselves
  3. Creating employment opportunities
  4. Never raising capital, which may mean staying small and have total control over their organizations

Entrepreneurship isn’t always about scale. It never was and doesn’t have to be now. Of course, a lot depends on your priorities as entrepreneur and leader. If you want to build something that’s bigger than yourself, yes, scaling should be a priority. But that doesn’t mean you have to raise funds.

Speaking to Chef’s analogy above, I believe vegetables are a necessity if you’re making a dish, but funding isn’t. I think raising funds is like taking orders at a restaurant and hoping/praying that the food gets delivered on time (or at all!). The challenge is that neither hoping nor praying is a great strategy.

While the best alternative is to focus on building a business that’s funded by the people you’re serving. If, however, you want to build something bigger than yourself, the best option is to scale. And that might mean you will have to raise funds in lieu of all the great things (listed above) you can do as an entrepreneur.

And guess what? It’s okay to be congratulated (and congratulate fellow entrepreneurs) for raising funds. Nobody’s entitled to anything! And remember, at the end of the day, the Chef will have more control over his creations than a well-funded startup.

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