The Surprising Factors That Drive People to Entrepreneurship

Most people don’t become entrepreneurs. It’s part of the deal: entrepreneurship is risky, failure-prone, actually; it’s high risk for uncertain reward. But those who do succeed often succeed handsomely. As such, it’s not uncommon for entrepreneurs to be portrayed as fearless visionaries. And as much as some entrepreneurs might like to think this of themselves, this is often not the case. For every prickly genius like Steve Jobs, there are 10,000 entrepreneurs with more everyday and relatable impulses. Here are some:

  • Problem With Authority. According to interesting polling research conducted by Reed Commercial, entrepreneurs and self-employed persons (whatever the difference may be) don’t like working for other people. When asked to describe previous bosses, about 75% of respondents did so in generally unflattering terms. They talked about their bosses as if they were arrogant, dismissive, conceited, and every other adjective for bossy and cocky you could find in the thesaurus. Whatever the reality of the situation, there’s a certain class of worker that has a problem with authority, so much so that they are motivated to take on the mantle of authority themselves.
  • Lack of Formal Education. Surprisingly, one of the major factors that motivates future entrepreneurs is lack of formal training. In many industries, jobs are only available to people with necessary requisite education or experience. For many factors (including #1 in this list) lots of smart and hardworking people lack educational backgrounds for the work they want. They know they have what it takes, but they don’t have it “on paper” so to speak. Despite the ongoing talent shortage found in many industries, most hiring managers still aren’t willing to consider an applicant based on “brightness” or other intangible characteristics that would enable someone to learn on the job and turn out to be a good employee despite lack of background. These people have to start businesses of their own to do the work they want to do.
  • The Need for Challenge. For many people, the drive to open a successful business isn’t an economic incentive, per se. It is even more common for people to try to make it on their own, because to do so would be the fulfillment of perceived personal potential. There’s a reason that Maslow’s hierarchy of needs puts “self-actualization” at the summit. Many people won’t feel fulfilled until they see an idea succeed, one that was conceived in their own head and which flourished due to their own hard work. Most of these people don’t want to be millionaires, at least this is not their primary objective. They just want to work hard and succeed on their own merits.


There are plenty of other reasons why people become entrepreneurs, including easy to understand stereotypes like the promise of wealth and prestige. But these quieter factors actually have a lot to do with people stepping out into risky economic territory, and are the motivations we have to thank for much of the economic development that we depend upon for our own happiness, future security, and daily wellbeing.

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