Entrepreneurial motivation; how to avoid ‘no-tivation’

From No-tivation to motivation

In this 7 minute blog, you learn why entrepreneurial motivation is vital and how business coaches can help increase it.

Table of contents

One of the most, no, the most critical factor in entrepreneurship is motivation. We know owners have a passion for what they do, but in this blog, we’re talking about the desire for doing business. How eagerly do business owners want to run a business of their own? Why do owner-managers want that so badly? For whom do they do all that effort and hard work without any guarantee or guaranteed income? Or are owners doing it mainly for their salary and pension?

Even when entrepreneurial success is not forthcoming, and many setbacks keep coming, what motivates an entrepreneur to keep on going? Wherefrom does he get his unlimited motivation? No matter what circumstances? Here you can read how you can discuss and increase the motivation of business owners.


As a small business coach, you must have experienced this situation, too. Your client is getting tired of hearing all these questions when you try to pinpoint their motivation for getting into self-employment? As if you would not be satisfied with their answers that your coaching clients probably are trying effortlessly to grasp. As if there is an ever deeper layer where the answer should be. They can’t answer what their motive is, so do they have no motivation at all? No-tivation?

I agree, it can appear that way, especially when business owners have no clue yet to your pressing questions on their enterprising motivation. It doesn’t mean that they don’t have a motive at all. There is no such thing as no motivation. Many people don’t have this clearly stated for themselves or written down a deeply desired mission statement. They find it hard to put their motivation into words. Admittedly, it ain’t easy and takes time to formulate.

Not for a business coach, that’s his passion for running a coaching practice.

Why knowing the motivation of entrepreneurs is important

If people are running their own business or are setting up an entrepreneurial activity, they’d better have an answer to their why. Every successful entrepreneur has experienced difficult times on their road to economic growth. It’s part of doing business. Every small business owner will face setbacks, and that’s when their answer to why they run a company can make or break them. If they haven’t thought about it, finding that answer has to be their top priority!

So, what is the very reason business leaders are risking all of their efforts and time, if not money? How often have I asked myself: why am I actually doing this? Then it always takes a while, but I still feel this answer coming up quite strongly: to develop entrepreneurship worldwide. That remains the reason, and my mission statement or end goal, why I am in business for more than 25 years now.

Motivation definition

If all goes well, as a small business owner, you feel that your motivation comes from within. Something with which you feel emotionally connected. Of course, you love what you do. However, here I refer to your intrinsic motivation to work your ass off for your business. What’s your passion for putting your entrepreneurial mindset to work? What is your internal entrepreneurial motivation? However, if you don’t feel anything coming from within, then it had to be external.

An external motivation for running a business of your own, for example, is when you want to get rich, or you can’t get a job, or you think it is effortless to start a business. Those are external motivations. If you have no inner drive to run a business, the chances are enormous that you will stop close your company way sooner, because of a first setback After all, when things get tough, the external motivations that drove you to do something, quickly fade.

Besides the internal and external sides of motivation, motivation also consists of a hierarchy of 5 needs developed by Maslow. A good explanation and practical tips, you can find in Maslow and motivation.

What to do, when things go badly, and your motivation is slipping away

If something goes wrong, you are more inclined to quit than ever before. At least you could say you tried. However, you never know whether you stopped too early. If you know the reason why you went into business, it is much more likely you will continue. That burning fire inside you helps you pick up the ax once more. You even may find your real answer to the ‘why’ of it all. Your inner and intrinsic motivation, which gives you more energy than you had before.

You see this happening to more people. When things are going very badly, it helps, strangely enough, to find the real power that allows you to continue.

Motivational factors

Can you learn motivation? No, you cannot learn it!

However, you can enlarge it. Let me give you an example of how a high school increased the positive attitude of entrepreneurship students. EuroCollege is a private school in the Netherlands and Curaçao, which has an accredited entrepreneurship education program.

They have clear rules, norms, and values from the first moment you step in there. A deal is a deal, and failure is not an option! They forcefully teach these rules, and I don’t mean that in a negative way but in a different way.

To ensure that students learn to adopt a positive attitude of tackling down problems and setbacks, and not giving up, they teach in a different way. They inspire by having a successful entrepreneur or successful person standing in front of the class. That keeps the students quiet during the course because they get lots of inspiration from people who have a positive mindset that lived the entrepreneur lifestyle, talking honestly about handling their own motivation.

Conscious and unconscious, these practical teachers appeal to their internal motivation. Because otherwise, as a student, you can’t keep up in class. Through this approach, they learn to fight for what they find essential; to complete their education. Successfully, their success rate is 80%, and that is high.

Finding Your Entrepreneurial Why

Entrepreneurs encounter certain challenges when starting their own business: the first being what product, service, or idea they are marketing and how they intend to go about doing so. But an important question that is often overlooked is why an entrepreneur started their business in the first place. In fact, the “why” should be the starting point from which entrepreneurs work backward and are arguably more important than the “what” or “how.” 

When you are starting a business, it’s imperative to ask yourself why your business exists and why you chose this path because the answer to this question is not only why customers buy from you, but why they become loyal to your brand. Simon Sinek, an esteemed author, and the motivational speaker discussed this element of the entrepreneurial vision when he said that “people don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it.” 

What The Data Shows

Studies show that when customers believe a business has a strong purpose, they are four times more likely to purchase something, six times more likely to exhibit brand loyalty against public criticism, and four and half times more likely to recommend your product, service, or idea to their friends and family. Making your “why” clear to customers motivates and inspires them to garner brand loyalty to your company. 

The external rewards of answering the “why” are just as important as the internal benefits of emphasizing entrepreneurial purpose. According to the Deloitte Culture of Purpose Survey, businesses that operate with strong purpose experience 30% higher innovation and a 40% increase in employee turnover. For entrepreneurs themselves, having an entrepreneurial purpose inspires creativity and boosts passion in addition to facilitating persistence and absorption within the business. 

Companies That Effectively Communicated Their “Why”

Examples of companies that have successfully defined their “why” and implemented it accordingly include Patagonia, Starbucks, IKEA, and Bumble. The outdoor wear clothing brand Patagonia is dedicated to protecting natural resources and ensuring they don’t cause unnecessary harm to the environment when creating their products. On the other hand, the dating app Bumble does away with outdated gender norms of men messaging first to redefine dating norms and help people foster healthy relationships. 

Scandinavian furniture brand IKEA has made a lasting impact on its customers by focusing on making affordable furniture for everyday folks. Lastly, Starbucks became a household name by emphasizing the human spirit in each cup of coffee they sell. The businesses mentioned above operate based on their “why,” which inspires the creativity integral to their success. 

Finding Your Entrepreneur-pose

The key to finding your entrepreneurial purpose is outlining your passion and how your business fits into that. Some things you should consider that may help you hone in on your “why” is asking yourself what gets you out of bed in the morning or if your childhood passions line up with your current ones. Another tactic is writing down your talents and exploring whether or not any of them are lucrative. It’s also important to consider why your customers should care and how to inspire them with your passion. The answer is not, however, to co-opt someone else’s plan — your entrepreneurial purpose must be unique and meaningful to you. 

Turning Your Passion Into Your Paycheck

The reason that successful entrepreneurs are able to turn their hobbies into their primary source of income is that they are pursuing their passion. The gig economy and side hustle enthusiasts base their philosophy on monetizing what they already enjoy. A common piece of advice for early-career entrepreneurs is to start with what you know. 

“Doing what you love makes the project not feel like work,” according to Jen Henson, the founder of Goal Digger ACT-Prep. Henson’s “why” is based on finding the people who would benefit from her hobby and striving to make their lives better, to which she credits the success of her business. 

Honing in on your “why” not only makes your business successful, but it builds a foundation for the mission of your business should any obstacles arise. It gives your employees a reason to get up for work every day because they know why they are working and what they are trying to achieve. It also gives entrepreneurs the direction they need to fulfill their business goals and advance innovation through creative ideas. 

How The “why” Leads to Core Values

Once the entrepreneurial purpose has been established, creating the framework for your company’s core values, mission and vision is the next step. Answering the “why” for your business is integral to the core values of an organization which can contribute to the company culture. One example of this is the digital marketing agency Online Optimism, where CEO Flynn Zaiger realized that his employees all had a different view of the “why.” To consolidate the core values of Online Optimism, Zaiger set up weekly meetings with his staff in order to establish their mission, vision, and values as a group. 

Knowing your company’s core values leads to positive company culture; research has shown that healthy company culture has a positive impact on productivity, job satisfaction, employee retention, creativity, innovation, and profitability, just to name a few. 

Impact of a Larger Purpose

COVID-19 has had an enormous impact on businesses of all scales. Steve Lowisz, the CEO of Qualigence International, discussed the impact of the pandemic on employee morale during uncertain times; although he is unable to afford to give his employees raises or bonuses, he was able to recognize that “people who stay just for money leave sooner than those who remain for a larger purpose.”

By building his business through his internal team, Lowisz found that this created “a more engaged team, evident in their commitment to mentoring others in the organization.” Qualigence International is just one example of the impact of a larger purpose on employees during uncertain times. Entrepreneurial purpose sets a sustainable method to not only increase employee productivity but to further your business as a whole. 

What can you learn from a business coach?

How can you find your entrepreneurial motivation? That’s tough. A business coach, however, can help you find an answer to your motivation and translate it into goal setting by asking questions you never think of. Furthermore, you have to get inspired by what other people say. In the E-Platform of the E-Scan, there are many examples of internal and external motivations of other business owners.

Also, the E-Scan reveals their internal motivation for entrepreneurship. Whatever the answer, if it feels right for the entrepreneurs – something that really touches them – they have found their internal urge.

Want to know where your inner motivation comes from, get your free E-Scan now. Are you an entrepreneur coach and want to find out how to pinpoint the motivation of your coaching clients, take a test drive of the E-Scan

Entrepreneurship means getting up more often than you fall.

Motivation is one of the four elements of the Entrepreneur Competence Model. So, even though motivation is crucial, you might want to read what the difference between skills, abilities, knowledge, and competencies is.