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Passion, Not Money, Motivates Entrepreneurs

Passion, Not Money, Motivates Entrepreneurs
It's not money, but passion, that inspires entrepreneurs. / Credit: Man shadowed in sun image via Shutterstock

Getting rich would be great, but money isn't the only thing driving entrepreneurs to succeed, a new study suggests.

Research from a Rutgers University-Camden scholar on what keeps entrepreneurs motivated despite a sometimes murky future discovered that the emotional aspect of starting a new venture plays a key role in a business owner's willingness to weather early storms even if it means little success in the early going.

"Starting a business is a lot of work with little immediate payoff," said Shoko Kato, an assistant professor of management at the Rutgers School of Business-Camden. "Why is it that so many people start businesses and invest a lot of time and money if the probability of success is low?" [10 Personality Traits You Need to Start a Business]

According to Kato, 15 percent of new business ideas are abandoned after four years and another 15 percent are successful four years after conception. That leaves 70 percent of entrepreneurs stuck in between, waiting for the pendulum to swing toward success, or failure.

"If it was all about making money, you might think that entrepreneurs who realize that they won't get a return on their investment would bail out as soon as possible," Kato said. "But I found that it isn't always about making money."

Instead, he said something else is driving them to carry on in the face of adversity.

"I think many entrepreneurs switch their focus to their personal growth and their own happiness, which is why they're more likely to exercise patience in the beginning," Kato said.

To gauge how entrepreneurs stay motivated, Kato referred to thousands of blog entries by nine different North American entrepreneurs who detailed their experiences in starting a business. The industries included start-ups in the nonprofit sector, consulting and software development, among others. 

While their motivations for starting a business varied, Kato said each entrepreneur's experiences were similar. For example, her research suggests they each express anxiety and excitement in the prelaunch stages of the business, while also showing frustration over lack of progress and support.

In each case, focusing on short-term, tangible goals allowed each new business owner to remain committed to the bigger picture, which in turn encouraged them to stick with their long-term plan. Kato said that seems to be the key to staying motivated in the early stages of a new business, even if it underperforms.

Additionally, the research shows that entrepreneurs persevere through setbacks by seeking positive feedback and by thinking about new ideas for their business while reflecting on why they started the business in the first place.

While it might seem like entrepreneurs are being irrational by staying the course, Kato doesn't think so.

 "There will be tough times in founding and managing a business," she said. "If an entrepreneur is passionate enough about his or her idea to do anything, then the entrepreneur will succeed."

Originally published on Business News Daily.

Chad Brooks

Chad Brooks is a Chicago-based writer who has nearly 15 years' experience in the media business. A graduate of Indiana University, he spent nearly a decade as a staff reporter for the Daily Herald in suburban Chicago, covering a wide array of topics including, local and state government, crime, the legal system and education. Following his years at the newspaper Chad worked in public relations, helping promote small businesses throughout the U.S. Follow him on Twitter.