The Jamestown colony was more than just an English exploratory adventure—it was a business venture. In the early 1600s, England did not want to foot the bill for an expensive and risky new settlement in North America, so the King issued a charter to the Virginia Company, authorizing it to raise funds by selling shares. It was up to the Virginia Company to make the colony a success.
The colonists were a combination of laborers and “gentlemen.” The laborers were to receive land of their own after a period of years, while the gentlemen were to be paid in land, stock, and dividends. Everything hinged on the colony's ability to turn a profit for the Virginia Company stockholders, which it initially failed to do. Eventually, the colony found it could become profitable by raising tobacco.
After years of problems, the Virginia Company's charter was replaced in 1624 with a Royal Charter. The success of tobacco and the influx of more colonists strengthened the colony and helped ensure its eventual success.