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.
Entrepreneurs are not merely money hungry and wanting to be the boss. 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.
As with 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.
The creation of new ventures is of critical importance for economic growth, it’s important to gain a better understanding behind the entrepreneurial intent. It will assist greatly in improving venture creation and influence the success of entrepreneurship by understanding how to motivate individuals.
So what is meaning?
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.
For many who venture on their own, work was just a means to an end, receiving a salary at the end of the month and doing what they were told to do. They feel no meaningfulness in their work and by ending up doing only the bare minimum required from them, it leads them to stagnate in their positions and career as they weren’t challenged to grow.
For other entrepreneurs, although they found meaning in their work, they felt that they could achieve more by starting their own venture. One’s work could make a difference but on the other hand you could be hindered since you can’t make the decisions yourself that you feel would have a bigger impact. In addition experiencing a sense of purpose in one’s work or to start a business that has purpose could positively enhance one’s own sense of meaning.
If one’s purpose is to develop things that you believe will add value, one’s work would contribute to one’s own sense of purpose and meaning. Finding the significance in one’s work, will translate into life becoming significant.
If you have not yet ventured on your own, perhaps you should consider entrepreneurship if you struggle with the following:
• Constant feeling of being demotivated at work;
• Lacking the motivation needed to do great work;
• Not feeling that your job is contributing to the greater good;
• The work you do doesn’t provide you with a sense of meaning; or
• You feel that you need to do something with more purpose.
David Krige is an MBA graduate of the University of Stellenbosch Business School (USB) and head of operations at LaunchLab in Stellenbosch.