Owning your own business is not easy, but it is rewarding. But while you could be forgiven for believing that that reward comes in the form of money, for many entrepreneurs it’s not actually the main motivation to start a business.

Where does the motivation to start a business come from?

Quick takeaways if you’re in a hurry

1. It’s easy to fall into the trap of wrongly believing that business owners are just in it for the money
2. Entrepreneurs enjoy the thrill of building a business and watching it succeed. So when it works well they often come up with a new venture and start all over again.
3. As community becomes increasingly important, social responsibility becomes an ever stronger driver for business owners.

Read on: Where does the motivation to start a business come from?

If you’re not a business owner, you may have fallen into the trap of assuming that entrepreneurs start businesses because they want to make money. The media is partly to blame: they hold up examples of successful entrepreneurs and put special emphasis on the financial rewards that they have enjoyed from their business ventures.

There is also no doubt that we assume there must be great financial gain for the sacrifices that business owners make, both in time and energy, in order to get their companies to succeed.

But actually most entrepreneurs and business owners are not just doing it for the money. They are inspired by larger and more significant drivers. And while there are certainly a small percentage of people who are only in it for the financial reward, the majority are looking beyond money and seeking something quite different.

Imagine this situation: you’re an expert in your chosen field of speciality, because you’ve worked hard to become one. You’ve got a mind packed full of ideas that could make everything work better. You know that business culture is important and you value the people around you. You recognise the potential of getting it right. You see disappointed customers every day and you’re ready to create a step change in their expectations. You have an idea for a business.

This is where many business owners start their journey. Business owners are often a bi-product of a company or an industry that is definitely not getting it right. And because entrepreneurs are creative they spot an opportunity. They identify and create an opening for a product or service and they design a business that will deliver that change to the market.

So why is being the boss so appealing? Business is like life: situations cause us to ponder ‘what if’ and courage is required for us to take a step further and actually find out the answer. When you meet a business owner you’re encountering someone who has had the courage to take the leap of faith and find out what happens if they take that next step. If you ask what motivates them to achieve their goals; their answers stretch far beyond the financials of their business.

Living the dream

Many business owners are born entrepreneurs. But that doesn’t mean that their first job is running their own company or building their own business. When entrepreneurs enter the workforce, they can often face years of frustration. Time spent under the tutelage of bad managers and leaders, delivering products that miss the mark and realising everything could be done better.

Imagine the powerful rush you get then, from setting up your own business. It’s hard work, but you have the freedom and independence that is needed to do it yourself and do it right. In research by Manta and Dell of more than 3000 members of Manta’s small business community, 37 percent stated that the feeling of self-worth they got from achieving their lifelong dream was what motivated them to own their own business.

A passion for business

It can be confusing to see a successful entrepreneur who has built up a business, achieved their desired result, sold their business for $millions, and then decides to start all over again. If you lack the entrepreneurial gene you may be wondering why they don’t just retire: haven’t they got enough money now?

Introducing the ‘serial entrepreneur’. The buzz that comes from creating a successful business gives these business owners an intrinsic motivation. They feel passionate about building businesses and so they will continue to do it, on repeat. Each business rebuilds the buzz, and teaches the entrepreneur more about their craft.

Research by Cox Business shows that over two thirds of business managers and owners said that being their own boss and their passion for creating a business from the ground up was their biggest motivation to start a business.

Reinvesting in what matters

Setting a target to do more and do it better is common for business owners. Many business owners seek ways of delivering the best product to their customers in way that supports global communities rather than undermining them. Or that sustains the environment rather than threatening it. And this target is a huge motivator for those who believe in it.

Focusing on social responsibility adds an extra dimension to the motivations of setting up and running a business. For those who hold this important it becomes an act of creating legacy. Building a business that will make the world a better place.

Being a business owner or an entrepreneur often means being financially successful. Being part of the workforce often means being motivated by a pay cheque. It’s easy to think that business owners are only there for the money: but actually they are motivated by an awful lot more.

When you consider where the value lies in being your own boss, think instead of the passion that entrepreneurs apply to creating a business and driving it to success. Consider the pleasure that comes from being master of your own world: doing things your way and challenging yourself to make it a success. Business owners embark on a journey to make their businesses viable both economically and socially. And along the way they achieve considerably more than just wealth.

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