You usually hear about people wanting to start companies because they have a problem they want solve or think they have some unique insight that might result in bags of cash. I think there is another reason that is spoken of less frequently.
When people would tell me how hard it was to build a company a certain itch would arise that made me wonder if I had what it took to start my own. In the current landscape, this feeling is amplified because you’re bombarded by success stories in the media. I find myself asking similar questions about aspirations in other fields. For example, I want to go through Marine training not because I truly feel called to serve our country (if I’m totally honest), but because as a man I want to see if I have what it takes.
I don’t think I speak for all entrepreneurs, but I certainly think this feeling of accomplishing the improbable is a motivator. Ultimately, I think it stems back to the fact that we as humans compare ourselves and abilties to our peers to seek external validation. When we accomplish something people deem challenging it makes us feel good about ourselves. Would we feel the same way if building a company was the easiest thing to do? I doubt it.
I don’t think this motivation alone is the right ingredient for building a successful company. However, I do think its important to recognize its existence and be aware of how it affects our professional decision making.