Saturday, August 13, 2022

The Satisfaction of Entrepreneurship: What Motivates Entrepreneurs?

One of the questions often asked in my entrepreneurship classes is “Why do people become entrepreneurs?”
After growing up in a family where my father was a successful entrepreneur in radio and marrying into a family of entrepreneurs, I know the reasons are mixed. For example, my father chose to bet on himself and his partners to be successful because he found working in his former position to be highly unsatisfactory and frustrating. After many conversations with my mother and the rest of our family, he decided to start his own business. After a few downs and many very satisfying ups over the past 31 years, he recently retired from his company.

Clay Dribell
Clay Dibrell, Ph.D.

Entrepreneurial research suggests my father is not that much different from many other entrepreneurs who are not satisfied in their present jobs. Research indicates small business owners are more satisfied than employees with regard to life conditions, employment opportunities, financial situation, personal safety, health, and feeling a part of their community and neighborhood. Likewise, individuals choose to become entrepreneurs to take advantage of one or more opportunities such as gaining autonomy, achieving financial independence, working with family or living a chosen lifestyle.
A common reason for becoming a business owner is the desire for autonomy – the need to exercise workplace independence and assume full control of working conditions and outcomes. Another reason is the perceived need for financial independence. Many individuals see business ownership as an opportunity to build greater wealth than might be achieved while simply drawing a paycheck.
A third motivator is the wish to build a family business that can provide employment and wealth-generating opportunities for the owner’s spouse, children and extended family members. For some individuals, lifestyle issues are an important consideration, especially for those who believe that the self-employed have greater capacity to set their own working hours and conditions than do employees. Many want to exercise creativity in the workplace by choosing the work they undertake, including when and how to do it.
Looking back, my father has no regrets in his decision to be an entrepreneur who took on risks. These risks did, on occasion, translate to the associated stresses of starting and running a company; however, these risks were also rewarding, both economically and socially, when the company succeeded. Now, my parents are enjoying the benefits of their prior hard work and sacrifices in retirement, which is highly satisfying for an entrepreneur.
– By Clay Dibrell, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Management and Holder of the William W. Gresham Jr. Entrepreneurial Lectureship

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