#Startup Fuel: 10 Sources of Motivation According to Young Entrepreneurs

November 30, 2012

11:00 am

The following answers are provided by the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only nonprofit organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, the YEC recently launched #StartupLab, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses via live video chats, an expert content library and email lessons.

This week, Tech Cocktail asked, “What motivates you day-to-day as an entrepreneur?

1. Knowing the Why

It took me nearly two years of (conscious) self discovery until I was able to put my finger on and articulate why is it that I do what I do. But once I was able to do so, I discovered a certain type of alignment between both my personal and professional goals which is wildly motivating. I’ve also found that the more I share my ‘why’ with others, the more I was able to attract like minded partners or customers who create this upward virtuous cycle that fuels this motivation on a day to day basis. In case you were wondering, I believe knowledge transforms lives. Everything I am, my personal goal of having a school and my business goal of providing actionable insights to other entrepreneurs, is fueled by my belief that knowledge transforms lives.

– W. Michael Hsu, Founder & CEO at DeepSky

2. Connecting with Customers is Key

Since we host events at Zealyst, we have the luxury of connecting with our customers in person and hearing about their experiences with our company. Seeing their enthusiasm and dedication is what makes our work meaningful, and it is by far the most significant motivation I have to build a better, bigger company that can reach further and touch more people. One of the best decisions we made in the early stages of Zealyst was to form a Member Advisory Board, comprised of our most active and loyal customers. We meet with them regularly to get feedback, collect stories, and listen to ideas. They’ve not only helped to shape our brand immensely, but after each meeting our entire team is infused with new energy and excitement to push forward and work hard.

– Martina Welke, Co-founder & CEO at Zealyst

3. Creating an Organization With Purpose

Every day, I feel compelled by a desire to produce some meaningful change in the world during my transient existence, to be married to a purpose greater than myself. My impetus for enduring the many challenges and hardships of entrepreneurship is the ability to live free, to be divorced from convention and conditioning, to find truth and meaning in life. To build an organization with purpose and power to help others, to provide solutions to the world’s problems, to help mitigate the suffering of people and other living forms; this is the exalted path of the entrepreneur.

 – Arthur Ebeling, Founder and CEO at SkyInk Studios

4. Being of Service

When you work directly with your clients, watching them gain clarity, grow, and take on new challenges is incredibly rewarding. It’s the reason I started my company and the reason I’m still in love with my work today.

Though I may not want to send another email or write another blog post, I always want to make a personal impact. Reminding myself that my work is truly changing lives keeps me moving forward and motivated. It may seem corny, but I tell myself, “The world needs you to do your great work and to be of service.” And more often than not, the world gets what it wants!

Molly Mahar, Founder at Stratejoy

5. The Feeling of Building Something Real

I think that the feeling of building something real and then working towards that in the day-to-day work is what motivates me. Now of course this isn’t always the case, such as when I have to fill out a bunch of vendor forms all day. But even then, knowing that dull, mechanical tasks take things further down a clear road is a powerful motivator. I don’t believe that you have to have an exceptional goal in order to experience this. A person that is working on a revolutionary startup can just as easily fall into feeling disinterested and jaded as a person that is copy-and-pasting Excel data can feel inspired and excited. The difference between these two examples is not the value of their work but how they perceive their work to be of value.

Dmitriy Katsel, Founder at AdU Network

6. Boosting Economy By Helping Businesses

Building something really big. We recently just opened a 100,000 sq.ft. office in Austin and we’ve surpassed the 800 employee mark nationwide. It’s amazing to see this, especially when I think back to when we began 7.5 years ago in a small shared university incubator space. I also know there is so much more we can grow too. Yodle helps small businesses because SMBs are the backbone on this country’s economy. The majority of people employed and hired in the United States come from small businesses. We want to help small companies get more leads and drive more business so they can in turn hire more. My grandfather was a butcher and my father is a lawyer. I come from family of small business owners and I want to help other small businesses grow.

 – Ben Rubenstein, Co-Founder & Vice President of Sales Operations at Yodle

7. Potential!

What motivates me the most is knowing that the sky is the limit as far as my success is concerned. There is no ceiling so to speak regarding how much money I can make and how may people I can help as long as I continue to work hard and stay devoted to my business. This is one of the biggest reasons why I left the corporate world. I am also motivated by the fact that I know my business makes real differences in people’s lives. Knowing that people are improving their lives with the services I provide keeps me going day after day. Another thing that motivates me, and one of the things I like most about entrepreneurship, is that almost every single day brings a new adventure.

Andrew Schrage, Co-Owner at Money Crashers Personal Finance

8. I’m Motivated By My Team

We have so many exciting projects that move so quickly, I can’t let my team down by not doing my part! It’s incredibly satisfying to work with a team of smart, motivated people working diligently towards a shared vision. I love that part of running a company, and it motivates me to keep putting in 200 percent.

Laura Roeder, Founder at LKR

9. Proving the Doubters Wrong

The hardest thing about being an entrepreneur is having people say “no” to you *constantly*. Whether it’s prospective customers, financiers, friends, enemies, family members – there will always be doubters. Your hardest job as an entrepreneur is not executing on your business vision, raising funding, or keeping your employees happy – it’s coming back from more “no’s” you can possibly imagine, and proving doubters wrong. Not everyone wants you to succeed, nor will everyone like you – once you come to terms with that, you can take your company to another level.

Sunil Rajaraman, CEO/Co-Founder at Scripted.com

10. My Family — and Giving Back To Charity

When I was younger, it was always about the money. I had a lot of successes but also made a lot of mistakes with that mindset. Once I hit rock bottom, I realized there was more to it than that. I have always been huge on charity, nonprofits, and giving back, so I wanted to make my first millions in order to give it to a meaningful organization. Also, now that I am newly married and expecting a kid, I have had more focus than ever to be able to provide for my family.

Peter Nguyen, CEO at Advertiser360

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When Zach Davis isn't getting lost in the mountains, he is hustling from Boulder, CO as Tech Cocktail's Director of Marketing. He is the author of Appalachian Trials, a book chronicling the mindset necessary for thru-hiking all 2,181 miles of the Appalachian Trail, a feat he accomplished in 2011. Zach is a green tea enthusiast, die-hard Chicago sports fan, and avid concert-goer. Follow Zach on Twitter: @zrdavis.

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