Entrepreneurship and Motivation

In a previous blog post, I argued that entrepreneurship can be taught and provided an example to illustrate.  However, I am not arguing that anyone can become an entrepreneur.  The tools and techniques can be taught; the motivation and determination to start a business cannot.

Great ideas for new products and processes are of great value, but they are not sufficient.  The incipient entrepreneur needs drive and determination to succeed as well as commitment and the willingness to persevere when times get tough.  Successful entrepreneurs talk about the more than 80 hours a week they spent in the early stages of starting their business.  They talk about rejections by potential customers and the hard work of networking.  They talk about having to take out second mortgages and borrow from relatives and friends to raise money.  They talk about not seeing their partners and children for days at a time; some talk about the resulting divorces and estrangements. 

Along with my good friend and research partner David Boyd, some years ago I conducted a study in which we asked a group of entrepreneurs to complete a survey indicating how high they scored in Type A behavior, which measured how driven respondents were and how hurried, harried, and pressured they felt.  Our entrepreneurs recorded the highest scores of any group that had been tested, and by a wide margin.  If work-life balance is one of your main goals, look for a different line of work than entrepreneurship to achieve it.

Dr. Thomas Begley, dean of the Lally School of Management at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

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