There are many definitions of entrepreneurship. The characteristics of an entrepreneur are someone who sees, explores and develops opportunities for a clearly defined need, learning as they develop and grow with the resilience and persistence to drive through their ambitions.
This description may describe your character but before you leap from your desk, it is important to understand what motivates an entrepreneur into entrepreneurship? There are three primary motivators – serial, social and lifestyle.
1 The Serial Entrepreneur – starts a business for financial reward (wealth). They are interested in profit and capital growth, and they create businesses to grow and sell.
2 The Social Entrepreneur – creates a structure to help other people (contribute), this entrepreneur has a sense of social conscience, money is not their primary goal it is a function of the business ambitions.
3 The Lifestyle Entrepreneur – has a passion or skill that drives them into business. Growing a business and developing customer relationships is to further their lifestyle choice and/or passion, this may embrace lifestyle preferences or family commitments.
I did a quick straw poll on social media asking entrepreneurs what was their motivation for going into business, approximately 60% said passion/lifestyle 35% answered social good and only 5% stated financial reward. I have a hunch that if you were to do a scientific survey the results would be much the same.
The reason for this is that the world of business is moving away for financial motivation towards moral motivation. I can guarantee that Bill Gates will not be remembered for the impact that Microsoft had on the world, but he will be remembered for his contribution through the work of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
Although it is clear entrepreneurs think about their motivation for starting a business, it is my experience that many do not equate their motivation to the business strategy.
Richard Branson said, “It is important to understand what your main motivation is so that you can focus your efforts on reaching those goals.”
As a business consultant and mentor; I meet entrepreneurs that want to help others and then get frustrated when they are not making enough money. This is not to say you cannot do both, but in this case the lack of apparent primary motivation, the social motivation under-minds the lifestyle motivation.
Entrepreneurs can sabotage their progress by not being clear and committed to their motivated purpose. Businesses that suffer from a misalignment of motivated purpose and business strategy portray the following symptoms:
- For-profit businesses that adopt an approach that functions as a not-for-profit.
- Have employee-centred HR policies rather than customer-centred practices.
- Communicate mixed messages to their employees, customers and stakeholders.
- Have a stated mission that is not precisely aligned to a business strategy and course of action.
TOMS is a great example of a motivated social entrepreneur aligned to the clearly stated business goal and strategies which lives through its actions that are clearly communicated to the employees, their customers and stakeholders.
There is no perfect model of an entrepreneurship. What is common to all entrepreneurs is that they have resilience and persistence to drive their ambitions. However, it must be evident that their primary motivation is driving the business forward. What is Your Motivation for Entrepreneurship?