The start up WHY revealed

The Truth about why dreamers take a leap of faith to start a path their own way varies depending on the experiences of the entrepreneur. Some employees feel that they are more capable than their employers so they are motivated by the desire to take part in all aspects of the company's operation. They want to be a part of the design team, sales, marketing, engineering and production. Another motivating factor for entrepreneurs is their intention to  put a personal touch back into business.

I'm sure you have seen "The Boss," labels used by consultants, coaches and the like. Some entrepreneurs start their own business because they want to be their own boss and be in charge of all day-to-day operations. Many feel this is the path to self-fulfillment and feelings of accomplishment. New brand owners feel good that they are offering a valuable service doing what they love. While others are prideful in giving back to their communities and are highly motivated participate in giving charitable donations and events.

There are many reasons that inspire people to go out on their own in the marketplace. For each person it takes courage to independently pursue wealth, take on the challenge and provide new opportunities for their families while seeking personal achievement. Entrepreneurs are willing to work long hours, and invest their own money now in exchange for time and financial freedom later. I salute you all. 

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The miseducation of entrepreneurs

When you do a deeper dive in trying to truly understand what drives entrepreneurs to venture out on their own, we find a few stereotypes that just aren't true. The well-known challenges and triumphs of entrepreneurs still don't stop them from trying. Although 20% of new businesses fail in their first year, they still go for it.

If we really want to understand why people start brands, it may be helpful to understand the untruth. So, let's get to the truth by talking about the 8 Most Pervasive Myths about Why Entrepreneurs Start Businesses

Myth #1

The Fast Money

The truth is small business owners are committed to the long haul. Most entrepreneurs are committed to their legacy, not just churning out and turning over various businesses. Of course there are entrepreneurs who flip through business ventures who are seeking the easiest way to make a quick buck. However, most entrepreneurs are a tenacious group of go-getters who are devoted to growing their businesses for years, often not taking a paycheck, or paying themselves last.

Myth #2

The Corporate Dropouts

Most small business owners have a lifelong entrepreneurial spirit. The thought that they have failed in corporate because they could not keep a "real job" is a myth. The truth is entrepreneurs have an inherent spirit of independence and creativity that leads them to starting their own brand. 

Locally-owned brands in particular, are motivated by community and being a part of the fabric of a neighborhood. They are attracted to serving locally with family and friends; as well as building strengthening those community relationships. Locally-owned brands enjoy the warm, comfort and support found in the small business space vs. the often large impersonal, competitive, cold spaces of corporate.

Myth #3

The Money Motivated

Although both monetary gains and financial freedom are relevant to entrepreneurs, it is not generally their focus. A deeper dive would show the image of the greedy entrepreneur entangled with dollar-sign-driven dreams are simply not accurate. The truth is, the pursuit of entrepreneurship is mainly about the dream itself.

Entrepreneurs are driven by the dream of doing what they love and what gives them the feeling of fulfillment. Small business owners are motivated by flexibility and autonomy. They are also attracted to the control over their schedule, career and environmental. 

This supple freedom is a far greater benefit than money because the small business owner is readily adaptable, responsive to new situations including the capability of being pushed and pulled without breaking.

For those entrepreneurs who measure success by the number in their bank accounts, you will find their objective is to provide for their family, take care of their parents, and to achieve an overall better quality of life - neighborhood, education, leisure, health and wellness. 

Myth #4

The Self-Absorbed Startup

The view of small business owners as selfish and only think about themselves is simply not true. Entrepreneurs are altruistic. They are generous, community-driven and dedicated to the success of their teams. Most small business owners start their businesses with the goal of caring for their family, not simply to do better for themselves. 

The self-absorbed entrepreneur isn't reflective of the real world. Many business owners use a part of their profit to donate to charitable organizations, including the locally-owned business named Little League shirt. In addition, to giving money they are also generous with their energy by volunteering in their community. 

Micro-business owners like me often share their most valuable resource - time and expertise - by mentoring other small business owners, students and also by sponsoring community events. 

Entrepreneurs are externally focused because many of them find job creation and essential part of their goals. They buy goods and services from other small businesses in the community, i.e. contractors, attorneys, accountants, grocery store, caterers, cleaners etc.

Many start-ups launch with big goals and the intention to do good. They intend to have a strong social conscience. They want to leave a positive mark in the marketplace, in the communities they serve, and in the world.

A Conscious Business focuses on delivering value to all of its stakeholders and works to align the interests of customers, employees, partners, industry participants, investors, the community, and the environment to the greatest extent possible.

NOTE: Socially conscious  organizations lead with their WHY, they exemplify a purpose that is greater than their personal wealth. Brands that follow a values-driven business model are more profitable because they intrinsically attract the best talent who become efficient, productive and long-term loyal employees. A dedicated team that is not focused on the time clock but rather work for their attachment to the brand's mission, are the most successful.  The same is true for their customer retention. Customers who are attracted to the brand's values and mission become repeat buyers. These brand advocates are out front attracting new customers as your most effective sales force. Here is an article, How Industry Influencers Succeed with Socially Conscious Brands.

Myth #5

The Young Tech Geeks

Most entrepreneurs are actually older, wiser and diverse. The whole view is not represented with the stereotype of the twenty-something tech prodigy coding his genius in his parents garage - of course these guys do exist, however, they do not represent the full catalog of new startups.

Most small business owners are using their wisdom and experience to launch their brands. They are between 34-68 years old. In fact, during the economic shifts we see an increase in the lane of entrepreneurs who launch coaching and training companies in order to monetize their skills, talent and expertise. 

Here is an interesting article, This underfunded female demographic is launching the most start-ups in America far from Silicon Valley.  A few key points highlighted:

  1. Black women are starting businesses at the fastest rate of any racial group, according to research by American Express
  2. Since 2007, the number of firms owned by African-American women has grown by 164%
  3. Despite the hustle, minority women are being shutout when it comes to access to capital. 

Many new business are very successful, they are in varied industries like senior care services, organic health and wellness products/services, fitness consulting, translation services, green consulting as well as traditional professional services like accounting, hair/nail salons, and law firms. 

There are also businesses that support the person on a tight schedule with the willingness to pay for convenience, like the car service concierges who pick up your car, take it in for service and return it when it is finished. For those who can't afford to be without a car while the vehicle is serviced, the concierges also can provide a rental car. Now that is the creative entrepreneur solving the need in the marketplace.

Myth #6

The Isolated Lone Wolf

Entrepreneurs are certainly driven by and connect to family and community. There are some loner entrepreneurs but far more small business owners are living and working in connection with others. Providing for family is one of the driving forces that inspire small business owners. They want the flexibility in their schedules in order to spend more time with their families. 

Many entrepreneurs join mastermind groups to avoid working in a silo. In the mastermind group, they share resources, industry news, while collectively troubleshooting and problem solving. Mastermind groups also provide a space to support (and challenge) each other.

Co-working environments are cost-effective, but they also provide a space for entrepreneurs to experience comradery as well as gain networking opportunities.

Myth #7

The UnSmart Entrepreneur

Many believe new business owners know-it-all. Let me tell you, entrepreneurs do not have it all figured out. Micro-business owners in particular are always focused on learning and growing.  They are life-long learners because in the beginning of their venture, in many cases, they are doing it all. They are wearing all the hats!

Entrepreneurs suddenly find themselves learning basic accounting, marketing and business management. Think about the research necessary for entrepreneurs to figure out whether to form a LLC, Sole Proprietor, Inc. or 501c3. That is a little bit of tax law right there! If you hire anyone, now you are dipping into payroll and human resources. 

The Small business owners who lean on the Small Business Administration is a testament of the need to ask for help from an experienced mentor. Here is the link to the SBA Directory to find an office in your area. Other entrepreneurs hire coaches and sign up for education, training and read blogs (like this one) in order to get more information. 

Entrepreneurs don't have all the answers, sometimes they try to do it all, but most usually find resources and assistance.

Myth #8

The Whimsical Dreamer

On social, there is a lot of talk about entrepreneurs following their dreams, finding their purpose and this may lead some to believe that business owners haphazardly start businesses. It is true that many brands are born from passion and a longing to find their purpose but that doesn't mean there is no plan. If you are like me. the dream is the plan. 

When I visualize my brand growth, even now, it turns out to be a bit of a roadmap. I can see where I want to go and I can imagine the major thoroughfares. The next step is to tap into my genius, take the risk, think on my toes and use the tools and resources available in order to fill-in-the-blanks to complete the plan. If you are like me, you start with the end-goal as the starting point and work your way backward.

Small brands totally understand the value of working smarter, not harder. They also understand the power of monitoring performance. One of the first tasks for us to learn is analytics. We for sure want to understand how we are doing. This is particularly true for cash-strapped organizations who want to make sure they are spending their lean dollars wisely. The return on investment is real. Entrepreneurs use metrics to understand website performance, financial gains and marketing success to drive their business decisions. It is far from whimsical.

Entrepreneurs are not motivated by more than just money when starting their own business. Most startups want to become their own boss because they want freedom, fulfillment and flexibility. Small business owners take calculated risks to set up their enterprise for various reasons, including giving back to their community, leaving a legacy for your family or doing your part to change the world for the better.  In the end, we know that the decision to launch a brand is a personal one that impacts everything in your life. 

I'd love to hear from you, please share what inspired you launch your brand. I'd further like to understand what motivates you to keep pushing forward even when everything around you indicates that you should, "go back to work,"  Please leave leave your comments below. 


Andrea Callahan inspires passionate & purpose-driven brands to maximize their strengths to craft an image that represents their WHY, and then use that WHY to position themselves as Industry Influencers; who share experiences that attract their Ideal Buyers. Callahan is a speaker, seminar leader, and the author of, "It's Your Brand ~ Make Your Identity Clear." Callahan is also the principal brand manager @ACIagency, a high-end boutique, integrated-marketing agency, specializing in helping locally-owned brands share their WHY.

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