Entrepreneurs take major financial risks, work long hours and practically torture themselves trying to stay afloat and build a business from the ground up. If you think about it, it’s a downright harrowing ordeal. Why would anybody want to go through with it?
It’s because, despite the hardships of the experience, there are nuggets of joy and satisfaction that can be derived from it and, at the end of the tunnel, if you’re committed enough, is a substantial reward.
Those nuggets and rewards are different for everybody, but if you analyse it carefully, there are five main motivations that drive most entrepreneurs:
You can deny it all you want, but the vast majority of entrepreneurs get into the game at least partially because of the potential to make lots and lots of money.
Stories about entrepreneurial geniuses like Richard Branson and Mark Zuckerberg make it seem possible for any enthusiastic citizen with a good idea to become an overnight billionaire.
This isn’t exactly true, but any dedicated entrepreneur with a good idea and great timing can make a lot more money than they ever could in a traditional position.
There’s nothing wrong with pursuing money, but if the allure of wealth is the only thing driving you, you risk becoming frustrated if you don’t turn a profit in the first few years.
Some entrepreneurs venture out on their own because they’re tired of the demands of traditional work. In a high-level position, the demands are exceptional – working long hours, catering to the whims of your bosses and clients, and being stuck in the same old rut of responsibilities.
Being your own boss in the world of entrepreneurship frees you from those restraints. You can work your own hours, wherever you feel like working, and set your own goals and responsibilities. Just be aware that entrepreneurship is extremely demanding, especially in the early stages of growth, so working your own hours doesn’t always mean working fewer hours or working under less stress.
In fact, many people find that they work harder, longer, and under tighter constraints as entrepreneurs than they did as workers – but it’s still rewarding.
The desire for control drives many entrepreneurs who aspire to attain a leadership position. When you’re the boss of your own organisation, you’ll get to call all the shots, from who gets hired and at what salary to what new strategic directions your business heads down.
Workers tired of their previous companies’ poor performances, or those working under an inept CEO, might be especially motivated by this factor. Once rooted in a business, entrepreneurs have full control over every decision made under them.
The flip side is, of course, the additional stress and pressure that go along with that responsibility. You’ll get the privilege of setting the course for your business, but if that course fails, you’ll have only yourself to blame.
Some people love working with others. They like the atmosphere of team-based creative problem solving, the interactions between mutually respectful, intelligent people, and the thrill of succeeding together. Some jobs offer direct supervisory or leadership roles, but there’s nothing like building your own team from scratch.
As an independent entrepreneur, you’ll choose your strategic partners, your mentors, your core team and even your first round of subsequent employee hires.
That means you’ll get to pick the skill sets, talents and personalities you want to work with, and you’ll never have to worry about working on a team that you don’t like or can’t be productive with. In some ways, your company’s team will be like your family. Just remember that no family lives without occasional disagreements.
Some entrepreneurs aren’t in it for the money or the experience as much as they’re in it for a lasting legacy. They might want to become the face of a brand and earn a taste of fame along the way.
They might want to leave behind something that appreciates them. They might even want to pass the business on to a future generation. The point is, they want to create something meaningful that’s going to outlast them.
This motivation is one of the strongest for entrepreneurs, because it can’t be achieved in any other application, and it lasts a lot longer than money or experience.
Which of these motivations drives you the most? Hopefully, you’re motivated by more than one of them — the more driven you are, the less intimidated you’re going to be when the inevitable challenges pop up along your journey.
Before you dive into the world of entrepreneurship, think carefully about what it is, exactly, that you want out of the experience. Understand your own motivations before you get involved; you’ll find yourself more satisfied in the long run.
This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.
Build Solid Back-Room Basics For Business Success
What do South African entrepreneurs really know about what goes on behind the scenes building of businesses?
South Africa has a vibrant start-up culture with great ideas starting out with a bang, but closing down with a whimper because entrepreneurs picture the glory at the destination, but not the nitty gritty of the journey to get there.
Be smart about scale
When I started out, I literally did everything myself. I negotiated and signed leases, I arranged the furnishing for our apartments and managed the interior décor process. When guests started using our apartments, I signed them in at reception, and then carried their bags.
At that stage, there was no money in my business to pay for attorneys, interior designers and decorators and there certainly wasn’t enough money for porters.
However, when we got to 70 apartments, it didn’t make sense for me to be a porter any longer, so I hired someone to do that job, explaining clearly what I expected of him. Before I did that, though, I spent time designing incentives for him so that he would be more affordable for me, and so that he could earn as much money as possible.
Related: Training Is A Two-Way Trick
Know your talents – and your limitations
There are certain things I’m really good at, but I know without a doubt that sales isn’t one of them – and without sales, you don’t have a business. I couldn’t afford a top-flight salesperson, but I knew that I could attract the right talent with the right business model. I set some high targets for Pamela Niemand, but offered her one third of the business if she met them. We both won: she earned a share in a successful, trend-setting business, and my trend-setting business became successful!
Use your skills – but know when to hand over
My background in corporate finance meant that I had all the accounting skills I needed when we first started out, but I knew that the time would come when I would need someone focused on that side of the business full time. Doing it all myself first meant that I could brief my first full-time accountant clearly and with a deep understanding of what would be required – and that I could help that person find and fix any challenges based on my experience.
In summary, my simple advice to anyone starting out would be to bootstrap your business yourself without investors or staff for as long as you can, but don’t over-extend yourself. Know when to delegate tasks away so that you can focus on what you’re really good at – but don’t do it before you have a solid understanding of what’s required. Know what you’ll never be able to do, and bring in that resource from the beginning – but do it based on performance-based incentives, so that your fledgling business doesn’t lose out if your early hires don’t perform.
The Myth About The Relationship Between Entrepreneurs And Taking Risks
This is the true relationship between entrepreneurs and the apparent illusion of risk.
“I can’t be an entrepreneur or start a business. I don’t have the appetite for risk.” This line is spoken regularly to brave few that leave the perceived safety of a job, take the plunge and venture into the unknown world of being an entrepreneur. However, there is a gross misunderstanding in the appetite for risk that entrepreneurs are believed to have innately inside of them.
The little-known truth is that the majority of entrepreneurs don’t like taking risks and according to Luca Rigotti and Mathew Ryan in their paper that explores a model for quantifying risk and its translation into enterprising action, the results were very interesting.
Risk is explained by these theorists as taking action where the outcomes are unpredictable as well the factors leading to that outcome are unknown. One of the theorists in this area, Saraswati, who coined the term “tolerance for ambiguity” has a more accurate description of what the outside world deems taking a risk.
In simple terms, entrepreneurs don’t go head-first into the shark infested water because they like the idea of danger and potentially being eaten alive; or the thrill of being able to say that they survived whilst others perished in a pool of maimed flesh. They carefully calculate that the sharks have been fed recently, some of the sharks are ragged tooth sharks that whilst looking like they are set to devour a human being, are actually incapable of opening their jaws wide enough to bite. For those sharks that still have space or who smell blood and can’t resist the urge to kill, the entrepreneur has a cage set up that he can retreat into quickly and a knife with which to protect himself.
Tolerance for ambiguity is the careful evaluation of what is known at the moment where a decision must be made and an open-mindedness for what is not known. This, coupled with the agility to change course when new information is presented, has earned the label of high risk appetite. The appetite is not for the risk, but it is the ability to move down a path, when all the information is not known.
I likened it to a person moving around in the dark holding a candle. The candle casts a light that illuminates a limited parameter around the person holding the candle. What is beyond the light that the candle casts, is unknown and potentially a risk. But as the person moves forward, the light reveals what was unknown and in the shadows. As the light reveals new information and new challenges added to what they have already learnt, the person can make better informed decisions. The tolerance is in not knowing what lies in the shadows yet to be illuminated by the candle and then the confidence in his or her own ability to act on what new information is discovered.
None of this behaviour is risky or irresponsible. There is careful consideration for what is known and a tolerance for what is unknown. And once there is more information available, a calculated next step is taken and more information is assimilated into what is now known. This is the true relationship between entrepreneurs and the apparent illusion of risk.
7 Skills Every Entrepreneur Needs To Adopt Today
Want to know what skills can help you build confidence and your business? Here are seven…
For some people, becoming an entrepreneur is as easy as stepping off a bus. They have a big idea, they bring it to life, they hire employees and the next thing they are in a building smothered in branding and living the business dream. For others, the idea and the passion are there but they are unsure as to how they can make these into a sustainable reality. Entrepreneurial spirit isn’t like instant coffee – you don’t add ideas and suddenly get all the skills you need to thrive.
Want to know what skills can help you build confidence and your business? Here are seven…
1. Believable vision
Make sure that your vision is believable and achievable. It has to live in the realms of possibility, not as a blue-sky idea that looks good on paper but wouldn’t work in reality. You need to be able to live this vision so make it realistic and achievable. This will not only keep you on track, but your employees as well.
2. Be inclusive
You need to ensure that every person who works with you feels as if they are part of your vision and understand it. They need to relate to where the business is going and how it plans to get there. Many leaders don’t understand why employees are not engaged with their business and it’s because many of them don’t actually understand what the business does.
3. Communication is critical
If you don’t have fantastic communication skills, then now is the time to hone them. When it comes to building employee morale, commitment and engagement, nothing works as effectively as constant communication. The same applies to client relationships. You need to repeat the vision and ethos of the company at every opportunity and you need to be part of the team that does this communication.
4. Be visible and transparent
You are communicating, now you need to make that communication genuine by being both open and clear. People respond incredibly well to transparency. They feel as if they are part of something that recognises their value and contribution and it fosters a more inclusive company culture. Often toxic cultures come about thanks to a lack of communication and visibility. People know when things are being kept secret and react negatively to it, regardless of whether they’re an employee, a customer or a manager.
5. Be practical
You aren’t going to build an empire in a fortnight so focus on a realistic and practical business strategy that has clear benchmarks and even clearer goals. Communicate these with the company and keep everybody on the same page. Practical and achievable means long-term success.
6. Build opportunities
As people become immersed in your company and part of its growth they will also need opportunities to grow. You need to tie their careers to the business and create opportunities for them.
7. Be human
It takes people to build a culture, a company and a future. It’s essential that you are human in your interactions and your treatment of others. The impact that a down to earth and authentic attitude can have on a company is extraordinary.
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