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Aug 10

How To Build A Billion Dollar Company By Chasing Fulfillment Over Money

Tom Lisa Bilyeu(Photo by Christopher Polk/Getty Images for Quest)

Around my junior year of college I began to notice a lot more of my classmates talking about summer internships and talking about what jobs they were going to position themselves to apply for come fall semester of senior year. I had no clue at this point of my life what I wanted to do for a living so I did what most 20 year olds would do in my situation: I pursued the field which I thought would earn me the most money in the shortest amount of time. I jumped head first into interviewing for investment banking jobs on Wall Street and began my long and unfulfilling career in high finance. It wasn’t until a decade later and only after the company I worked for went bankrupt that I realized I had wasted the “best years of my life” chasing money. My career path was no different than entrepreneur Tom Bilyeu’s journey and in my recent conversation with him he shares his inspirational story of how he was able to turn his career around, pursue his passion and still successfully build a billion dollar company. To top it off he picked one of the most difficult markets in the world to do so, making a fortune along the way.

Bilyeu started his career off in the film industry but it wasn’t long before he met two seasoned entrepreneurs who were building a technology company called Awareness Technologies. They approached the company with the classic entrepreneur’s mindset of finding an underserved niche in the market, building a product for that market and then growing the business through marketing. The problem was that none of them really believed or had a passion for their product. It was simply about chasing money which was fine at the time but it didn’t fulfill a deep desire of Bilyeu’s which was to build a company based on passion. The team eventually sold the company and decided to build something entirely on value creation, whether it would eventually be successful or not.

“Knowing what I was giving up, I was not willing to be unhappy and wanted to build something that I really believe in. It really was realizing that all the money in the world isn’t worth hating your day-to-day life. It actually doesn’t make sense. I thought I was supposed to be pursuing money but that’s not feeling right. Really what I feel like I should be chasing is fulfillment. ” says Bilyeu.

With that framework in mind, Bilyeu and his partners decided to attack one of the hardest and most over saturated markets in the world to enter: nutrition. They launched Quest Nutrition in 2010 and by 2014 Quest was named the second fastest private growing company in North America. By 2016, just six years after they started, Quest Nutrition reached a $1 billion unicorn valuation.

How badly do you want it?

So what was Bilyeu’s big secret? He claims there is no secret and that it all comes down to unending execution. With the explosion of the internet and the flood on online content available between multiple social networks it may seem nearly impossible to get your voice heard. But it is important to remember that it is easier now than ever before in history to have your voice heard. Before the internet, if you wanted someone’s attention you would have to have access to real capital and a huge marketing and advertising budget of seven, eight or nine figures to be heard. Now it is much more of a meritocracy. You have to be creative, provide real value and serve your audience but it all comes down to how hard you are willing to work for it and that should be exciting for any aspiring entrepreneur.

“At the end of the day, it comes down to that chip on your shoulder. It comes down to having something to prove to yourself whether it’s to you or to somebody else to be so desperate to do something with your life, to matter, to have fulfillment that you keep going long after it starts sucking. You keep going long after it’s boring because you have a vision of where you’re going and what you want to do and quite frankly, the person you want to become and you’re willing to pay an obscenely high price to become that person,” says Bilyeu.

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