Love or money? The drive behind entrepreneurship

Entrepreneurs are not merely money hungry and wanting to be the boss, a study found conducted by David Krige, MBA graduate of the University of Stellenbosch Business School (USB) and Head of Operations at LaunchLab in Stellenbosch.

Krige says to become an entrepreneur requires extraordinary levels of motivation to weather the storm of uncertainty, change, and daily challenges and what drives this motivation is meaning and purpose.

“Starting one’s own business is certainly not for everyone. Yet many embark on this challenging journey not out of necessity due to poverty, downscaling or retrenchment as many in our country do, but more out of a desperate desire to find meaning in their work and to make a difference.”

Krige’s study found that following on the philosophy of Viktor Frankl that the search for meaning in one’s life is the primary motivation of man, most entrepreneurs are motivated by purpose rather than money.

“There are some entrepreneurs driven by the financial rewards and it is not an uncommon phenomenon that people are frustrated with their work and the role that it plays in their lives. However, not everyone starts a new venture as a result thereof. Nor do they venture off with a new business simply because they feel they are not being paid their worth. Ensuring that their work plays an important role in finding meaning in their lives is the largest contributor.”

He says that since the creation of new ventures is of critical importance for economic growth, it’s important to gain a better understanding behind the entrepreneurial intent. “This will assist greatly in improving venture creation and influence the success of entrepreneurship by understanding how to motivate individuals.”

So what is meaning?

Krige says meaning is an incredibly subjective experience since not every person is in the same life stage.

“People have different priorities such as providing for a family, starting a career, dealing with a difficult divorce or planning to have a family. People also define meaning differently; for some it is to make a difference in the world, doing work that is valuable to others, solving a problem or helping others, and for others it’s the opportunity to make their own decisions, to provide a unique service to the industry, to make a difference in their own lives or to be autonomous.”