The other day, 2 Billion Under 20 community member and tech entrepreneur Tom McGrath sent me this gem of an article he had written as a reflection of his latest happenings as founder of Social Sweepster, a “tool to help you monitor and clean up your online social presence” according to the company’s website. Tom discusses the internal struggle so many members of society face when deciding between whether they should take the stable road and safe path to life, or risk that altogether in the hopes of finding and acting on their passions in life, and making a living along the way. I think you’ll find his guest post here fascinating, and let us know what your thoughts are about this statement after reading Tom’s words. Without further adieu, here’s Tom.

During my time in college, I attended many different start-up events and had the opportunity to speak with a lot of successful entrepreneurs. There was one particular event where a speaker said that if you’re starting a company to get rich you shouldn’t do it.

For a while, that confused me. I understood that getting rich shouldn’t be your sole motivation for starting a business, and I knew starting my own business wouldn’t be as glamorous as the media leads everyone to believe. But I thought to myself: "Of course I hope I get rich at the end of all this. Wasn’t that the light at the end of the tunnel?"

Entrepreneurship and Musicianship
Tom McGrath

A true musician doesn’t pick up his instrument everyday and play it, because he hopes to make millions of dollars doing so. He does so because he has to. Through the good and the bad, he plays every day. It's a part of who he is, something that brings him great joy, an outlet for self-expression.

I’m sure all of us have come across an artist or musician who has chosen to forgo the typical material comforts of life to do what they love: Create. You see them playing in subway stations or selling their art on street corners. You couldn’t stop them if you tried.

Entrepreneurship should be viewed in very much the same way. The idea of creating a business needs to be an addiction. It needs to be ingrained into your very identity almost as if by not doing it, a piece of you would die. It has to be something where, like the musician, you’d be happy making a million dollars or a few dollars in change on the street corner downtown. The very act of creating something of value leaves you fulfilled.

And maybe you fail the first time, and the second and third times, but you keep trying, because it’s what you love. This brings me to my next and final point. If you decide to start a business, do something that is “uniquely you.” Writers, musicians and artists do what they know. If they’ve suffered through years of war or traumatic heartbreak, they write songs about that. It will be genuine, their emotion will be felt, and it will accomplish its purpose.

Ultimately there needs to be a market need and a sustainable business model, but similarly if you love to teach start a business that involves education, if you are an instinctually protective person start a security company. When times get hard it is that innate passion that will carry you through.