Having been involved in five startups, Evernote CEO Phil Libin definitely knows what it takes to be an entrepreneur.

During a speech at TNW 2012 he revealed that 100,000 people sign up to Evernote everyday and the service is rapidly approaching 30m total users.

But while Libin suggested that technology means now is the best time in history to start a business, he listed four popular motivations for becoming an entrepreneur that will guarantee the business fails…

1. Money

“Becoming an entrepreneur isn’t a good way of making money. 

Something like 99% of businesses fail. 

If you’re motivated by money and you judge your success purely based on your income, then just get a job.”

2. Power

“People think that if they start a business then they’re the CEO and they’ll have all these people reporting to them.http://www.flickr.com/photos/hoij/

That’s wrong. 

When you’re the CEO everyone else is your boss - your customers are your boss, the media is your boss, your employees are your boss. 

I’ve never had to account to more people than I do right now.

If you want to be an entrepreneur because it’s a power trip, then you’re better off becoming a politician or joining the army.”

3. Boredom

“People often say they want to start a company because they are bored or restless sin their current job.

That poorly formed idea you have is a good germ for starting a company, but it’s not going to be a success.

You’re better off staying at your job and working out exactly what it is you want to do with your life.

4. More flex time

“If you want to start your own company so you can dictate your hours and spend more time with the kids, then that’s stupid.

It doesn’t work like that at all. 

If you start your own company you do get flex time - you can work any 20 hours a day you want.”

So why do it?

Libin said there is only one good reason to become an entrepreneur – to change the world.

“The only reason to put yourself through the burdens and stresses of creating a startup is to change the world. You need to have an idea that you think the world needs.”

He said it could be big idea, like space travel, or something small such as a game that will make people happy.

“If you have that concept it is the only legitimate reason for doing it. Because you will work for seven years and make no money, but you will get something from it and learn for the next time.”

David Moth

Published 27 April, 2012 by David Moth

David Moth is Editor and Head of Social at Econsultancy. You can follow him on Twitter or connect via LinkedIn

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Comments (13)

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Jamie Riddell


What a negative view. If you flipped all of those points you could make them reason to be an entrepreneur. Yes there is risk involved but if you plan it right and keep a sensible head then there is no reason why you won't succeed. You many not change the world but you can still succeed.

about 6 years ago


NERD 123

What is piece of b*llcr*p... This knows nothing about doing real business. 'change the world' , just make your buck and STFU..

about 6 years ago



That's discouraging. People with courage create jobs for those that don't.

about 6 years ago



I can understand the reasons you have listed for not starting a business, however those same reasons also serve as valid reasons to start a new venture. I don’t think these reasons should deter you as long as you start a business that you are passionate about. Having passion and a love for what you do is what leads to success. With passion you have drive, motivation, and stick-to-itiveness. Having that desire to change the world or your community is key. But passion, hard work, and never giving up is what helps lead to success.

The reasons you listed are things that help support the passion and drive that are already in place.

Money: Money is a good motivator to wanting to start a business. There are a lot of people like stay at homes for example, that start home based business in order to make extra money.

Power: You make a good point about people being on a power trip, but power can also be viewed in a positive way. When you start a company you have the power to affect lives, influence opinion, create change, start dialogue and much more.

Boredom: The “poorly formed idea” you suggest can be nurtured and explored. Have you been to bored.com? I doubt that was started because someone was super entertained. Being bored is a good reason to analyze what’s really going on. It you ask yourself the right questions such as; am I bored because I’m not being challenged? Is my boredom due to not having a creative job? These questions can lead to new business ideas. You have to try.

Flextime: This is a very interesting one because it depends on how you view flextime. I see flextime as being able flexible about what hours of the day I can work versus not work. But it doesn’t mean you are working less hours. In fact I agree with you that you are working 20 hours a day. However, it’s nice to know that if you need to take off for an hour in the middle of the day you can do so. You don’t have to start work at 9am and if you need to stay up all night to make up for hours you lost during the day, then that’s part of it. Working 9-5 means you can’t go for a jog at 3:30.


about 6 years ago


Alagappan Muthu

Guys....please read the article carefully.
"he listed four popular motivations for becoming an entrepreneur that will guarantee the business fails"
He only means that IF you start a business with the sole motivation of Money,Power or out of boredom it is bound to fail.
It is a great speech and worth pondering over.

about 6 years ago


Danny Sodergren

There is some true wisdom here - worth thinking about for all people thinking about starting a business. Here's to all that do with @NACUE and those inspiring the next generation #nltc2012

about 6 years ago


Colin McDermott

I'm with Alagappan Muthu on this one. Evernote CEO Phil Libin having been involved in 5 x start-ups - I suspect knows of which he speaks ...

about 6 years ago



Completely disagree, this is a long tail world!!

about 6 years ago

David Moth

David Moth, Managing Editor at Barclaycard

I don't think Phil's intention was to be negative, he was saying that you need to find something you are passionate about before you start a business as chances are you won't get financially rewarded in the short term.

Starting your own business is extremely difficult and in my opinion Phil was simply saying that it's not worth doing unless you truly believe in your product.

However, I'm pretty sure most entrepreneurs are also motivated at least in part by money and power ;)

about 6 years ago



“Becoming an entrepreneur isn’t a good way of making money."

Utter nonsense. we live in a capitalistic world money makes the world go round if your not starting a business to become rich/make money your doing it wrong. the richest people in the world run businesses his correlation holds no weight.

Maybe if you run a freemium model its a crap way to make money yes...

"He only means that IF you start a business with the sole motivation of Money,Power or out of boredom it is bound to fail".

More nonsense. seriously all businesses make money thats what they do. you dont go in to a shop and say "hey these guys are in it for the money im leaving" do you?

also your not changing the world most people in my house have ever heard of evernote( which i use btw)

il end my rant agreeing with this comment:

What is piece of b*llcr*p... This knows nothing about doing real business. 'change the world' , just make your buck and STFU..

about 6 years ago



Spot on! Probably the reason 99% of the comments are so negative is because they are the 99% that start for the wrong reasons and fail or stagnate!

about 6 years ago



I am just starting a new buisness and am looking forward to the challenge of making it work. Creating an adventure for yourself that will tax your time and energy beats the hell out of 9 to 5.

about 6 years ago



Most of you guys are just reading the comments and judging the article. Please read what the guy is actually saying.

almost 6 years ago

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