In my line of work I meet various types of successful entrepreneurs, those that have just started out and those that have been in the game for some time. One of the issues that always comes up for discussion is about the motivation behind their different ventures. When I have asked the question; what motivates you as an entrepreneur? The responses have been varied and worth reflecting on. Below are the top four motivators I have come across in various interactions with business owners.
Making a Difference in Others
One of the most inspiring people I have been blessed to interact with is a middle aged woman who went out on her own after close to 10 years in big business. Her motivation for venturing out on her own was that she wanted to make a positive and discernible difference in other people’s lives through her work. The same theme has been recounted to me by many other entrepreneurs. A good number made the decision to leave the comfort and security of a guaranteed pay cheque at the end of the month and chose the uncertainty and risk of not knowing whether they will have enough money to live on monthly. Their motivation was so that they could make a positive difference to other people. As many of them have attested, this is not easy and is quite frankly nerve wrecking at times. In spite of this, they soldier on gallantly, their chief motivator being to positively impact other people with their ventures.
At one of our recent seminars, we came across a young man who was fed up (gatvol) by the litter strewn around his neighbourhood every morning in the township. His frustration with this practice of people throwing litter especially paper and plastics everywhere, gave him an idea. He set up a business where he commissioned several women in the area to collect all this litter every morning and sold it to paper converters in a nearby small industrial area. Today his business has helped clean up his neighbourhood while also providing employment to him and the local people.
Sense of Purpose
The majority of the entrepreneurs I have come across have all spoken about how running their own businesses has restored a sense of purpose to their lives. This rediscovery of a sense of purpose has ignited their inner motivation to succeed in their business ventures. A number of them have spoken about what they call an intangible but real force welling up from within and propelling them forward to make their businesses succeed.
Achievement of Goals
A significant number of small and medium business people say they are motivated by the achievement of their goals. As they set and then achieve one goal, they get the fuel to pursue the next set of goals. The satisfaction of achieving one goal spurs them on to work diligently at accomplishing the next goal. The common theme that runs through their stories is that goals are important motivators for ongoing success. So, in everything they do, they ensure that they have clear and time bound goals that enable laser like focus on what is important for success in business.
It is remarkable that only a very small percentage of top entrepreneurs mention money as a top motivator in what they do. While they all agree that money is important and that their businesses need to grow revenues and profits, it is however not the chief motivator behind everything they do. This reminded me of a proverb from Tanzania which says: make some money, but don’t let money make you.