Let’s take a look at the motor behind successful startups, namely it’s and the founder’s motivation. Motivation is also broadly helpful when considering work in general, but specifically for Startups it is one of the most decisive factors to define it’s future.
I haven’t always taken interest in being an entrepreneur. Not ruling it out, it simply wasn’t in my prioritary plans as much as having a career more generally. At first, it felt slightly contagious when first learning that friends and acquaintances were setting up their own businesses. Of course you can’t know how successful a startup is in a quick glance or conversation. However, once you notice the fundamental detail that surrounds entrepreneurship, that powerful thought can get hold of you.
If you are a founder, you can choose the direction and set the tone for your project. How many people – and how long does it take in a career – for an employee to actually feel like they can choose what they do? My experience is, most workers do not know such an autonomy, and that in itself is one of the main characteristics of entrepreneurs, they have their unique way to look at the world.
Motivation has different angles, so we will start with the intrinsic factors – those independent of the environment – and then move to the extrinsic motivational factors. Whereas I’m not basing this in any specific theoretical framework, I did previously read a lot about the topic, so there is inspiration from various sources.
- Some people want to do things and accomplish a lot in their lives, this is the basis of intrinsic motivation. Sure, context plays an important role, but given an adequate surrounding, motivation can be a powerful drive in itself, like an engine roaring regardless of where this energy is being driven;
- Also very common after a few years working in any given sector, a drive to change – either for the positive potential of what you want to accomplish or a variation of what you see out there – is a common motivational factor to start an own business;
- Another view on motivation, both for Startups and companies, corresponds to the “do what you love” mantra you’ve probably already come across. This TED talk is enjoyable and illustrates this view, as well as highlights how important surrounding yourself with the right people is.
- Finally and definitely not least important comes the motivation to build something, to create something new and unique.
Market and Timing
- Among the most important environmental factors to motivate is the identification of a market gap. If there is a product or service that is currently feasible and still unexplored – and believe me, those exist – and you are in a position to identify that clearly, chances are you will be motivated to do something about it;
- Another crucial extrinsic aspect of how innovation happens is its timing. Bringing ideas, products and services to market too soon or too late can easily kill it. Whereas lateness is more obvious since it means probably others will have already exploited that opportunity, early entry is also problematic. From lack of technology at an accessible price, passing by consumers not being ready for that innovation/change, all the way to the impossibility to hold the momentum until you can actually deliver your innovation, entrepreneurs really need to time their innovation well;
- Linked to the previous two, social-political context plays a huge role in the overall innovation spectrum, since it affects society as a whole. FinTech’s big push, for example, happened after the financial crisis started in the US little over a decade ago, and many pointed to the big financial institutions as responsible for the crisis. For some time, there is more public willingness to see new actors come into the arena and a number of new ideas have the opportunity to flourish, from the conservative to the exotic.
We strongly believe that motivation is as much an important factor in itself as it is a measure of how things are going. If you wake up every day thinking about how you want to be elsewhere doing something else, you should consider the possibility there is absolutely nothing wrong with you but rather you’re not going in a direction you like.
Inversely, if you are motivated by something, whether it is your current job, a side project or just a dream you entertain for some time, all the blocks preventing you from going ahead with it should be treated as such. Life is short and you should try to make the most of it in your own terms, accomplish what you want and for those who have that desire, leave a mark.