The Should I Own A Business Podcast

Episode Summary – Understanding your Motivation

Understanding your motivation for owning a business is crucial as your motivation must sustain you through the inevitable challenges you may face. We explore what some unexpected problems might be. Discover why your level of ambition and what success means to you is a critical part of the process.

Links and resources

Blog Slightly Familiar Friends

NAB Business View


3: Understanding Your Motivation to own a business

We explore the mysterious topic of motivation and why is it so important when deciding whether business ownership is for you.

So, in the last episode, called You-360, we spoke about thinking deeply about several areas of your life when considering whether you should start or buy a business. It is about establishing a 360-degree view of your life. You-360 is the first step in a process that will enable you to make the right decision for you about business ownership.

There is a downloadable worksheet for episode 2, so might be more able to answer “what do you really want?” by understanding the things that are very important to you.

The next crucial step is to find out what is motivating you to consider leaping into a business. Why are you making a move from employment into business, and what will sustain your motivation in the future?

Before we explore what motivates you, we thought it might be a good starting point to consider what is motivating others to get into a business. Brendan, you’ve got those details.

What motivates people to own a business?

A recent survey published by the NAB bank, a large Australian bank, gives some insight into why people start businesses. 

Even though these are figures from surveys conducted in Australia, the numbers from other countries will likely be similar.

The first thing to note is that 32% of the Australian adults surveyed “like the idea of owning their own business.”

So approximately 1 in 3 adults like the idea of owning their own business, which is a very significant number.

Their report shows:

  • 45% of 18-29-year-old which is nearly 1 in 2 people
  • 39% of 30-49-year-old
  • 19% of the 50+-year-old answer, “I would love to own my own business.”

The survey asked people why “would you love to own your own business”? 

Here it gets even more exciting and speaks to the question of “what is motivating people to get into a business?”. 

You might reasonably assume that it’s to make money, but it’s not.

  • The biggest single reason accounted for 66% who said the reason was “Being their own boss.”
  • Another reason given by 64% was to “work flexibly.”
  • 52% said for a “sense of achievement.”
  • Only 24% answered “financial rewards.”

So 2/3 say to be their own boss, and nearly 2/3 say to work flexibly. Just over half wanted a sense of achievement.

But here’s the fascinating bit – only 1 in 4 said it was for financial rewards.

The main sentiment is chasing the notion of choice and lifestyle.

Why do so many people want to start a business?

So, that has started us wondering about what’s happening in society that might be behind all this?

In previous generations, many people worked in the same jobs, for possibly their whole life. It was a goal for many people to work in occupations that gave stable long-term employment. People tried to get jobs with the large companies that offered stability and career progression up through the ranks.

The concept of a “career” has changed. It’s now perhaps more about acquiring skills in different companies and industries. People probably move around more now and can travel and work in other countries more too.

And, of course, the rise of the internet and social media has dramatically changed the world over the last thirty years, and the pace of change is getting faster.

Only 24% of those surveyed indicated that “financial rewards,” but there’s undoubtedly a phenomenon occurring around the developed world where low wage growth is creating an incentive.

One reason stated in the NAB report is most Australian households are no better off than they were in 2009. The low wage growth has barely kept up with inflation. People aren’t able to get ahead. I’m sure this is also the case around the world.

The 2020 coronavirus pandemic is forcing many people to look for new ways to earn money and owning a business looks attractive.

Redundancy due to the coronavirus pandemic is a significant reason why many people are now considering business ownership.

Understanding your motivation for starting a business is vital

There we have some interesting facts to use as a backdrop as we begin to explore what your motivation is for potentially getting into business for yourself. It doesn’t matter what other people think or use as their reasons to do anything. All that matters is whether your motivation is strong enough to carry you through the inevitable hurdles and obstacles you will encounter.

We’ve used words like ‘hurdles and obstacles’ here, but words are easy to say. The question is – would your current level of motivation carry you through some of those life events that happen to all us at some point? Major events could be the death of a loved one, serious illness, divorce, and the list goes on. While none of those are business challenges as such, would you be able to operate your business, if one of them was to occur? The point of motivation is that it needs to carry you through tough times.

What is aspiration and ambition for your business idea? 

You might consider that lifestyle is a higher priority than income. Or, perhaps the income stream is crucial for your business ambitions. You might have higher aspirations around wealth generation through business ownership.

Only you can answer what your motivation is and that can be driven by what you consider “success” to mean. 

It’s also clear from those NAB statistics that a sense of satisfaction through achievement is common, so consider what the results are you seeking.

What does business success mean to you?

We suggest that you take the time to consider what your motivation is. Reflecting on how does this fit in with the You-360 degree profile of your overall life balance might help you.

Write down:

  • What does business success mean to you?
  • What business achievements are you seeking?
  • How will you maintain your motivation at a high level?

Referring back to these three will help you keep clear about your ambitions and keep your motivation up, especially in any challenging times ahead.

In later episodes, we discuss How to Evaluate A Business Idea and Money in more detail.

Motivation can be internal or external and that it can change completely over time. 

Geoff says

My motives in the very early days of my business were very different than they were at the 10-year mark, for instance. I like to look at motivation as a tool we can use to get through the tough times. I mentioned earlier; you are going to be challenged, big time, over your Business journey. If your motivation is strong when these things happen, you stand a better chance of pushing through the tough times and, hopefully, on to success.

Slightly Familiar Friends

So, as a way of demonstrating the effect that strong motivation can have when encountering a challenge, I’d like to introduce you to the first of our “slightly familiar friends.”

If you’ve had a look at our website, you’ll see that we’ve developed a series of fictitious characters. We’re going to use them to illustrate how many of the things we discuss on the show might play out in “real life” situations. We’ve called them “slightly familiar” as who knows, some of you might just see yourselves in one of them.

Meet Steve and Meghan 

So today, we’re meeting Steve and Meghan. Steve is a 30-something Dad of 2 who has left stable corporate employment to start a business specializing in photography, primarily using drones. Steve loves photography which has been his passion for as long as he can remember. For nearly two years, he has been excited at the thought of earning a good living by doing what he loves for himself and his family.

So, after lots of planning, research, and just a little bit of trepidation, Steve and Meghan took the plunge eight months ago. Steve is doing all the photography and interaction with the customers. 

Meghan is handling the marketing, the books and the contractual stuff – who knew there were so many rules involved in flying drones around a city?

Things had been going really well, to the point where they were comfortably ahead of where they thought they’d be. They’d even discussed moving out of their 2-bed apartment and into a larger house so the kids could have their own rooms and a yard to play in. Their motivation was high.

The phone call

Then one day, Meghan rang Steve while he was out at a job. She had sent him a link to an ad she’d just seen on Facebook. An advertisement for a new drone photography company and not just a one-person show like their business, but the announcement included a picture of a line-up of at least ten sign-written vans and a promise to attend every job within 24 hours and at a price 30% less than Steve and Meghan charge.

That night, Steve and Meghan felt devastated – how can we compete with that?

Steve thinks, “it’s game over,” but Meghan, being the more optimistic of the two, immediately starts to think about other ways to tackle the problem. She said, “we haven’t come this far to give up now – we’ve invested too much time and effort.”

A test of motivation

This is a classic example of how your motivation might be tested. If Steve and Meghan’s motivation happened to be at a low ebb, there is a good possibility that they might “pull the pin”.

It’s a familiar-sounding story we see often. Your level of motivation will now play a critical role in whether you push on and overcome the problem or you give up. There is always a way to tackle business problems even when the situation looks hopeless. But you won’t find a way if you’re not motivated to push through. This is an excellent example of what could test your resilience and resourcefulness.

How motivated are you for business challenges?

Our vital message is that, if business ownership is really for you, you must find your motivation and understand it thoroughly. If possible, discuss it with the significant people close to you and then protect and reinforce your motivation regularly so that, when the inevitable happens, you can get through it.

5 Tips for understanding your motivation for owning a business

As a final thought, what are some of the ways you can identify and reinforce the motivating force as you navigate the ins and outs of your decision whether to go into business or not?

  1. Please don’t force it. A manufactured motivator will not stand the test of time and carry you through. Work out what you really want?
  2. Write your motivation down and reflect upon it regularly (some people use pictures, vision boards or vision statements to help them).
  3. Try to determine, whatever your motivator is,  whether it is durable and deep enough not to wane when the going gets tough.
  4. Learn about goal setting and how proper goal setting techniques can increase your motivation. Setting goals and achieving them is a motivator that should become a routine.
  5. Keep focusing on:
    1. Who you are
    2. What success means to you
    3. What achievements are you seeking?

We hope you’ve enjoyed this episode about how vital understanding your motivation is when assessing whether business ownership is right for you or not.

The Should I Own A Business Podcast Next Episode

In the next episode, we’re are interviewing a young guy who is a couple of years down the track from starting his Mobile Coffee Van Business. Join us to hear about his experience and get some real-life insight into what its been like so far.


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