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Why Are You an Entrepreneur? (And Why It's Important to Know.) A better understanding your own motivations can help you in a number of areas of entrepreneurial development.

By Anna Johansson

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Klaus Vedfelt | Getty Images

Every year, thousands of people become entrepreneurs. It's a challenging road, one filled with harsh reality checks, unexpected turns and a great deal of financial and emotional strain. So why do so many people opt for this lifestyle in the first place?

If you're reading this article, you're likely either an entrepreneur already, or you're considering becoming one. If that's the case, do you know the real reasons why you're doing it in the first place?

Related: 7 Life Lessons From My Entrepreneurship Journey

Why It's Important to Know

It seems like a silly question. After all, there are some obvious benefits to entrepreneurship. But not all of them may be important to you, and some of them may be affecting your decision making without you realizing it. Better understanding your own motivations can help you in a number of areas of entrepreneurial development:

  • Direction. First, understanding your personal motivations for being an entrepreneur will help you direct the business in the right direction. For example, if you're looking for a challenge, you may drive the business in new, unconventional areas, but if you're more interested in preserving a healthier, flexible work-life balance, you may prefer keeping things in a more conservative balance.
  • Clarity. Identifying your personal motivations can also help you explain why certain choices appeal to you more, or why certain things are affecting you in a positive or negative way. For example, if money is a major motivation of yours, you may be more affected by short-term losses.
  • Morale. Finally, knowing what you want can help you get what you want, and keep your morale especially high in the process. When you have a good idea of your needs, you can work harder to fulfill those specific needs, and worry less about everything else that's going on.

With that being said, you may need a helping hand to figure out exactly what your motivations are. Here are some of the most common ones.

Related: Driven to Succeed: How an Entrepreneur's Love of Cars Led to a Lifetime of Success

1. Money

There's nothing wrong with becoming an entrepreneur to make more money. By now, you should realize that entrepreneurship isn't a get-rich-quick scheme (no matter how many news stories you've read), but even modest businesses can return an impressive salary for hard-working entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurship bears nearly limitless income potential -- provided you have a good idea -- and knowing that money is a big priority for you may help you direct your business in a more profitable direction.

2. Independence

Some people opt in for entrepreneurship because of the independence it offers. They're tired of having a boss or supervisor tell them what to do, and they want to take charge of their own lives. There's a certain pride in making the decisions and setting the course for an enterprise, not to mention, you'll have more flexibility to do what you want in life -- even if that means taking an extended vacation or going home early on a light day.

3. Creativity

Some people have an urge to create things, and entrepreneurship is nothing if not a creative endeavor. This is an artistic or DIY project on the largest scales, as you'll be incepting and shaping an entire self-sustaining system in your course as an entrepreneur. When this is your primary motivation, you can focus on those self-sustaining elements, and prioritize your inner vision, even if it isn't always the most pragmatic.

Related: 25 Quotes to Inspire Your Entrepreneurial Journey

4. Legacy

For some entrepreneurs, creating a business is all about leaving a legacy -- and there are actually a few different forms of this. For example, you might be building a business so that your children or grandchildren can inherit a means of making money. Or you might be building a business to change the world (and have your name associated with that change).

5. Leadership

If you're a people person with a type-A drive, you might be most motivated by the idea of becoming a leader. You'll be putting a custom team together, choosing the people you want to surround yourself with, and setting a tone for the organization. Having direction over teambuilding and immersing yourself in a team environment is the most rewarding part of entrepreneurship for some. If that's true for you, you can put teambuilding above most other priorities.

6. Challenge

Finally, for some people, entrepreneurship is all about the challenge. They're not intimidated by the possibility of failure -- they're excited because of it. They like the idea of putting long hours and hard work into a project due to the satisfaction they'll have at the end of it. Most entrepreneurs are at least partially motivated by the challenge, because if you aren't ready for it or if you want an easy life, you probably won't be successful in your endeavor.

Related: Accelerate Your Entrepreneurial Journey

You may be influenced by all of these motivations, or only one or two of them. It doesn't matter what's influencing your decisions, as long as you can identify those influencers and compensate for them as appropriate. The Greek aphorism "know thyself" is especially appropriate here; knowing yourself better will allow you to make better, clearer decisions, and will get you closer to achieving your personal goals in the process.
Anna Johansson

Freelance writer

Anna is a freelance writer who specializes in social media and business development.

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