10 June 2015

5 motivations for running a business

A panel of small business owners were interviewed and they stated that they are less driven by money than the independence and a desire to improve the world

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People, as a rule, don’t start their own enterprise to make money. It may be a by-product, but it’s not the main driver of their entrepreneurialism.

We asked owners and directors of micro-businesses about their motivations and what they thought it takes to run a successful operation.

The major motivation for starting a business is a desire for independence – it’s the freedom from being told what to do by others. Next comes passion about the business itself, the product or service that’s being supplied. Cash is a distant third.

Interviews with business-owners we’ve profiled on the Knowledge Centre reveal more detail. We’re finding that the passion of many small-business owners is bound up with a wish to change the world for the better.

It’s clear that many business-owners have a strong desire to take hold of their own destiny and contribute to shaping the world they know. But our survey also revealed that business leaders feel this can’t happen without hard work and clarity of vision – both of which are deemed essential to turn motivation into success.

What does it take to start up and run a business?

Five motivations for running a business

1. Helping others

“I’m 60 and worked previously as a primary school teacher, so I’m not in business to build a career or become wealthy. An opportunity has come my way to do something really worthwhile – helping indigenous people and vanilla farmers in Madagascar and on the Equatorial Belt. Making money isn’t my top priority.

“Also, when I launched my business in 2010, there were about a million young people unemployed in the UK. My business has so far provided work experience for ten graduates, as well as jobs for others. Giving young people the opportunity to gain experience and launch their careers is another great thing about running my business.”

2. Independence

“After years of working for other people, I felt I had gathered sufficient experience to utilise my skills working for myself while doing a job I enjoy. The primary goal was to earn a living. However, the secondary goal was to do something I enjoy and to benefit from investment in my own efforts.”

3. Improving the world

“My ultimate goal is that future generations of children will be healthier thanks to Little Dish, because our aim is to change the children’s food industry for the better. Obviously, as a business, we have to be commercially successful if we are to deliver that social mission, but commercial success is not enough on its own to drive me or our team.”

4. Independence, fun, financial security

”I finally took the plunge when I was sitting in a meeting one day and was looking out the window, having totally lost interest in what we were talking about. I went home that night and decided to resign the next day. My real motivation was the excitement of doing something for myself, creating something and being able to do that without having to go through the corporate bureaucracy.

I have three goals in running my business:

  1. To be financially independent and to develop a business to continue a strong income stream into retirement.
  2. To be able to employ a dynamic team of people with similar values and beliefs and to be able to give them an opportunity to work and grow in an inclusive working environment.
  3. To have fun and enjoy my work.”

5. A better balance

“I live in rural Somerset and wanted work that would fit round my children – not only did I want to be able to take them to sports matches and watch their school plays, but I wanted to be able to be there for them during the school holidays.

“I started my business whilst on maternity leave with my third child. Having worked in a web design agency for several years (on the customer service side, not designing), I thought it was time to put into practise what I had been preaching to my customers – luckily it worked!

“Ultimately I am in business as it was either that or getting a job! Once the children leave home, I would like to sell the business and go travelling around the world with my husband.”

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