Would You Start A Business If You Won the Lottery?


Starting a business is by no means a simple or short process; it’s one that demands considerable stamina, long hours and, yes, a good amount of seed money. Oddly, even though many prospective entrepreneurs understand the intense time commitment of starting a business, it is this last point – the financial aspect of entrepreneurship – that remains so often the largest deterrent.

Why is that? Well, it probably has something to do with the fact that we are slower to quantify our time as opposed to our money, and a loss of time doesn’t necessarily look like a failure (whereas financial ruin or bankruptcy most certainly still does). This begs the question, then: if money were no object, would you start a business, and what would that business look like?

Now, granted, in order for this hypothetical scenario to play out, you would have to learn how to play the lottery well and have a little luck on your side, but let’s just say that it happens. You win a multi-million dollar Powerball jackpot, and are now staring at a bank account balance so large you couldn’t possibly know what to do with it all. Do you start a business?

It’s an interesting question, because it gets at the heart of people’s motivations for entrepreneurship: if making money is the ultimate goal of starting a business, you don’t need to bother opening up a business, since you already have an enormous amount of lottery money at your disposal. But there is a sense – you would probably agree – that this glosses over a deeper motivation at play in entrepreneurship, namely the very human desire to succeed through personal trial, risk and individual ingenuity.

This latter point suggests that money isn’t the only reason people start their own businesses, even if the loss of money is people’s chief deterrent. It would definitely be easier to open a business if you won the lottery, because the stakes are lower in terms of financial loss, and the ability to put the proper amount of money behind an idea – its creation, execution, marketing, etc. – is much easier.

In many cases, wealth begets more wealth (if you have a lot of money, you’re better primed to make more money – one of those convenient functions of a market economy) and a business is no different. Your business will have a better chance of succeeding if there is a lot of money behind it.

The answer to the question “would you start a business if you won the lottery” should therefore be abundantly clear: yes you should. You should because very few people ever have the chance to open a business under completely ideal financial circumstances, and to not capitalize on such a situation would be silly. If money is the largest deterrent for prospective entrepreneurs, and personal triumph is the chief motivation for the entrepreneurial spirit, then winning the lottery should make you a great entrepreneur. Of course, for this hypothetical to work, you have to start by actually playing the lottery! Good luck!

Author: Ryan Yarbrough