Oct 042011

Entrepreneur? Why Did You Do It?

Entrepreneur? Why Did You Do It?

Those who choose to become an entrepreneur do so for a wide variety of reasons.  When challenges arise in your entrepreneurial path, as they inevitably do, it’s useful to remember why you became an entrepreneur in the first place.  It can help you “maintain a level head,” tap your willpower and continue to fight to achieve your entrepreneurial goals and dreams.

So, what are some of the reasons we become entrepreneurs?  Here are some thoughts:

We want to change the world.

We’d like to become financially independent.

We get pushed into it.

We’re not good employees.

We want to work for our own bottom line.

We have a vision.

We like to start things.

We like to build things.

We think we can “do it better”.

We admire an entrepreneur (or several) and want to follow in their footsteps.

We believe entrepreneurship is the root cause of economic progress.

We’re looking for freedom.

We want to carry on a family business tradition.

We realize that being an entrepreneur is no less secure than “corporate America”.

We believe it allows us to express our individuality and creativity.

We want to leave our mark on the world.

These reasons for becoming an entrepreneur are not mutually exclusive, of course.  Most entrepreneurs I know, including myself, would count many, if not all, of these reasons among their motivators for taking the entrepreneurial path.

If we take a look at Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, we can get some interesting insights into some of the reasons we become entrepreneurs and how, depending on where we are in our lives, that may change over time.

Maslow’s Hierarchy Of Needs

Maslow Hierarchy of Needs

As you can see looking at the reasons above in light of Maslow’s Hierarchy, many of the reasons we choose to become entrepreneurs, particularly in the “developed world,” have to do with “self actualization”.  Granted, regardless of where in the world we may be talking about, there’s always a financial undercurrent to entrepreneurship.  It’s a basic reality, as illustrated by the lower levels of Maslow’s Hierarchy, that we all need to meet our basic needs for food, water, clothing, shelter, and physical safety.  To do so, in most settings, we need money, and becoming an entrepreneur is a way to earn money.

However, once we have those basic physical survival needs met, the reasons for becoming an entrepreneurial quickly move into the realm of the emotional, as do the layers of Maslow’s Hierarchy. From there, again tracking the Hierarchy, the reasons move into the realm of self-actualization and our existential search for meaning and contribution as human beings.

As such, entrepreneurship can become a vehicle for us to leave our mark and make a significant contribution to the world.  Our vision as entrepreneurs is limited only by our imaginations.

Why did you become an entrepreneur?  What is your entrepreneurial vision?  Is it big enough and worthy of all you have to offer and contribute, given your considerable talents and perseverance? Reignite your passion for entrepreneurship and make something special happen!  As Richard Branson said about becoming an entrepreneur (paraphrasing), “I wasn’t looking for the money and the fame.  I just wanted to change the world”.

I look forward to your thoughts and questions.  Please leave a comment (“response”) below or in the upper right corner of this post.

Paul Morin




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  • Great post. I agree, there’s something in the genes that drives us to not just achieve, but do something worthwhile (great value), creative and life-changing. There’s a drive much different from the bureaucratic look at just maintaining and guarding. We flow from vision with an eye to making a difference.

  • I started looking for a portable job after my corporate career ended when moving back to Japan in 2003 after my son was born in NYC. While in Japan from 2003-2006, I started consulting work for companies I worked before and learned more about entrepreneurship by being the chair of the Pharmaceutical committee at the American Chamber of Commerce in Japan ACCJ.

    Then when I moved again back to the US in Atlanta I decided to take professional coaching learning program to initially add new skills for my consulting job, I really enjoy coaching clients and learned about social media at the same time to get clients wherever I live. This was a great decision for me as it works! I had clients in Atlanta then in Brussels during a 2 year stay and I already get some leads after only 12 weeks in New Jersey. Benefits of being an entrepreneur are really great as a trailing spouse to keep my sanity after moving more than 12 times !

  • Excellent article, motivated me, made me reflect , made me think of why I chase my dreams each day,.

    Thomas Gillis

  • john Falchetto

    I left my corporate job in 2003 and never looked back.
    I have to admit I didn’t have huge ideals of changing the world but I did want to change myself, which is a start.
    Along the way I realized what I could to change the ‘world’ one person at a time, one expat and business owner at a time.
    The vision for ELC is simple, provide the support every business owner abroad needs when they need it.
    I never had this when I started my businesses overseas and nobody should have to slog the entrepreneur journey alone.

    Great post Paul, certainly food for thought there.

  • Thanks for the reminder. As a ‘new’ entrepreneur, several reasons jumped out at me from your list. I didn’t quite know how many different motivators were out there, motivating the world’s entrepreneurs.
    My personal reasons?
    ‘We’d like to become financially independent.’
    ‘We get pushed into it.’ – more like a friendly ‘nudge in my case
    ‘We’re looking for freedom.’
    ‘We like to build things.’
    ‘We believe it allows us to express our individuality and creativity.’

    Great article Paul!

  • I did it because I was tired of being “too experienced” and “too overqualified” to do the job. So now I charge three times as much for the same work than I would if I were an employee, and my experience is “just perfect” as a consultant.

  • Certainly a great reason, Debra! It sounds like entrepreneurship is working out very well for you! I’m happy to hear it and I wish you the best in your business. Paul

  • I’d agree with you, Zach, but as the saying goes, “where you stand depends on where you sit”. It doesn’t feel that way for everyone, but I’d have to agree that the vast majority of entrepreneurs I know and with whom I’ve worked, are in it more for self-actualization reasons too. Paul

  • Happy you enjoyed it. As you know, most all of the reasons apply to me. I’m an entrepreneur “through and through”. 🙂

  • Thanks, John. It sounds like you did find a bit of a “calling” in your entrepreneurial ventures, even though it may not have started that way. It’s interesting how often this occurs, particularly when the match between the business and the entrepreneur is a good one. 🙂 Paul

  • Thanks, Thomas. I’m happy the article motivated you and made you reflect a bit on your entrepreneurial “journey”. That was the goal of the article. Paul

  • Wow, Anne! I thought I had moved a lot. Moving 12 times is really something and I’m sure it’s had its challenges! I like the idea that entrepreneurship and coaching have been able to provide you with a bit of a common thread, to keep your sanity, as you say. Keep up the good work, as I’m sure your coaching work will continue to grow and prosper. I have read your writing and ideas on your blog (zestnzen.wordpress.com) and I’m sure you have A LOT of wisdom to offer to expat executives and their families! Paul

  • Agreed, Wayne — being an entrepreneur is about much more than “maintaining and guarding”. I like the way you put it: We flow from vision with an eye to making a difference. Well said! Paul

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  • Monyelle

    Great post!

    I became an entrepreneur because my passion and drive to help others is too big and cannot be fulfilled working for others. Spending my life working for someone, so they can tell me when I can enjoy a vacation, take sick leave, take a day off to volunteer, spend the afternoon with the childern, is not what I want for my life.

    I’ve enjoyed my career and am blessed to have a strong one at a young age, but I know in my soul that it is not the life for me.

    Thanks so much for sharing this with us!

    Take care,

  • My pleasure, Monyelle. When you’re an entrepreneur at heart, it’s hard to get away from it! I wish you all the best in your entrepreneurial ventures! Paul

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