Building a successful business takes commitment, courage, and a significant investment of time, energy, and money. The process can involve countless setbacks, frustrations, roadblocks, and challenges. However, the sense of satisfaction business owners feel when their business is successful often outweighs the challenges along the way. It’s therefore crucial for current and would-be business owners to clearly understand their motivation for running a business, as this will affect the way they approach the task.
For some business owners, the business itself isn’t as relevant as what the business lets them do. Whether that’s work fewer hours, retire early, take charge of their own destiny, or travel extensively, the business itself simply provides a vehicle to achieve those goals. When that is the case, often the business owner isn’t intrinsically motivated by the work they do; it’s merely the necessary engine that lets them get on with their other pursuits.
For other business owners, the business itself is the main driver. They get pleasure from seeing the business grow and succeed. They may even view it as their life’s purpose. Rather than thinking about when to sell the business or how to maximise their own income, these business owners tend to think about how they can reinvest the profits to create further growth.
There are seven great questions business owners can ask themselves to get a clearer understanding of what motivates them:
- What ambitions did they have as a child or young adult? Are they currently working in that field or a related one? If not, there’s a chance their motivation to run the business is primarily as a means to an end and not intrinsically motivating.
- If that’s the case, How can owners justify spending their main creative energy on something they are not intrinsically motivated by?
- Would getting into the flow of deep work be easier if the owner were intrinsically motivated for the task?
- Does the business owner have any regrets? Are they at risk of having more regrets, which could actually be prevented by acting now?
- Is the owner more inclined towards balance or commitment? Is single mindedness important?
- What gets the owner out of bed and keeps them showing up each day?
- How does the owner define success?
There’s nothing wrong with being motivated by success as a means to an end or success in and of itself. Each business owner is unique and must find their own reason for showing up to work each day. However, understanding these motivations can be enormously helpful in deciding how to run the business.
For example, if a business owner is motivated by a high income, then they will need to structure the business to maximise the amount of profits they receive. If money isn’t as important, then the business owner may look at ways to invest in the business to achieve further growth and expansion. Understanding which approach is right for them will help business owners succeed according to their own definition.
Andrew Laurie, CEO, entrepreneur and business coach