When it comes to starting a business, you’ll need a driving force behind you—something more than money.
Whether that is a desire to make some small corner of the world a better place, or the feeling that you could be the one to perfect a certain product, you’ll need to hone in on that deeper motivation to be successful. Otherwise, it’s hard to keep going when times get tough.
To get a sense of what drives successful entrepreneurs to start, we asked entrepreneurs from the Young Entrepreneur Council: What motivated you to start your business? Here are their starting stories.
1. I wanted to help my father
Plenty of entrepreneurs start a family business due to convenience, but Josh Fuhr of Auditrax wasn’t simply looking for an easy business opportunity. “My father’s business partners never carried their weight for the 10 years they worked together,” he explains. “At the age of 16, I had already decided to learn skills to complement him and have long-term success as his partner.”
Rather than go into business at the tender age of 16, Josh waited until he had the necessary skill set under his belt. “When I got my degree, we hit the ground running together,” he says. “We’ve had long-term success, and it feels great knowing that everyone in our family is provided for.”
2. I wanted to empower women with financial advice
“After my father suddenly passed away, I saw my mother struggle with our family finances,” says Elle Kaplan of LexION Capital, who noticed both an untapped market and segment of the population that she cared about reaching.
Elle explains: “Although she was a genius in many regards, she was overwhelmed and unprepared when she unexpectedly became the ‘CFO’ of our household.” Watching her mother negotiate the process of controlling the family finances inspired Elle to start LexION Capital, as a means to help other women in her mother’s situation. “That’s when I realized I wanted to make top-tier, honest financial advice accessible to women and their families,” she says.
3. I’ve always loved custom products
Be your own target market. It’s common advice because it works so well. After all, if there’s a product you wish you could purchase, or a pain point you know needs solving, you are in a great position to understand the market right from the outset.
In this vein, Aaron Schwartz’ love of custom products inspired him to start Modify Watches. “I’ve always been a fan of custom products,” he says. “Taking an idea and translating it into a piece of apparel that you can wear? That’s pretty darn cool.”
But Aaron wasn’t satisfied with what the industry had to offer, and thought he could do better. “For Modify, that means that we offer free design so you can translate your idea into something that actually looks good,” he explains. “It felt natural that I should share that with the world.”
4. I hated working in a cubicle
Innumerable businesses have been started as an escape from the daily clock-in, clock-out office grind, and Dave Nevogt of Hubstaff tells a similar story. “I started my career in finance with a too-long commute and a tiny cubicle,” he says. “I hated every second of it, and that’s what led me to start an online business.”
However, a simple desire to escape from cubicle nation isn’t entirely a solid enough driving factor all on its own. As with all businesses bound for success, Dave saw a problem that needed fixing. “After working with remote teams for a while, I had some difficulty managing them and keeping track of their billable hours, so that’s what inspired Hubstaff,” he explains. “Each business I started was born from some sort of personal pain point.”
5. I wanted to be my own boss
“More than anything, I wanted to be my own boss,” says Ross Resnick of Roaming Hunger. “But there are a lot of ways to do that in a service industry without creating anything particularly new.”
Rather than reinvent the wheel, Ross set out to create a product that was truly novel. “I decided that I was going to create something that didn’t yet exist, and in the process of creating a new company and useful tools for people, helped pioneer an entire burgeoning industry.”
6. I’ve always had a passion for business
Plenty of kids dabble in childhood entrepreneurship (lemonade stand, anyone?) but Zac Johnson from How to Start a Blog knew from a young age that he would start his own business.
“Even as a young kid, I always knew I wanted to be in business,” he says. “From selling trading cards and candy in school to starting my online business while in high school, it’s all been pretty amazing.”
This knack for entrepreneurship has translated well into Zac’s adult life, and he is passionate about sharing his experience and advice with others looking to start their own businesses. “Having the opportunity to work for myself and be my own boss has been amazing,” says Zac. “One of the greatest thing about having my own business is that I’ve been able to teach others how to do the same.”
7. I wanted to improve the lives of others
If you have a desire to make the world a better place, this can be a huge motivator to start a business. Ginger Jones saw a way she could personally improve her community and the world, which led her to start Jones Therapy Services.
“There were a lot of factors that led to me creating my business, but the driving force was my passion for improving people’s lives,” says Ginger. “I felt that I had the tools necessary to make change happen, and to empower others to do so as well, and I didn’t see a reason why it shouldn’t be me.”
8. I saw room for improvement
Have you ever used a product or service and thought about the ways in which you could make it more functional, more visually appealing, or just better overall? Peter Boyd, inspired by the poorly designed websites he saw every day, created PaperStreet Web Design because he believed he could do better.
“Like most entrepreneurs, I saw something ugly that could be better,” he says. “I was a lawyer and was tired of seeing bad websites every day. I also happened to love web design and was creating websites for fun anyway.”
The combination of his interest in creating a better version of an existing service, coupled with his talent for web design, resulted in a successful business venture. “The two seemed like a natural fit,” says Peter. “I could help lawyers improve their reputation online, and start my own business.”
What is your reason for wanting to start your own business—or, if you’ve already opened up shop, why did you start? Share this article and join in the conversation!