The Real Reasons Small Business Owner's Start Their Business
(Hint:  It's Not Money!)

May 3, 2022

Drinking coffee

Tom clearly remembers the early days when he started his own small business, providing architectural design services for new and remodeled commercial office buildings.

He had spent 15 years working for a large architectural firm right out of college, first as a draftsman, but eventually working his way up to project manager overseeing a small staff and multiple commercial projects each year.

When he grew tired of working for someone else, and the market was going so strong it seemed like there was plenty of work for anyone with capabilities and a little ambition, he decided to strike out on his own.

Life as a small business owner was wonderful at the start, but the glitter and excitement started to wear off not long after Tom hung out his shingle.


You Don't Know What You Don't Know

Tom was right about plenty of business to go around.  He had several projects under contract and on his drafting board right away.

He soon
 realized that they required more time than he had, especially since he was also now doing all of the things necessary to run the business:  sales, marketing, paying bills, and eventually human resources management.

Tom hired a person to help with the bookkeeping and administrative work, and another person to help with the architectural services, but he still worked long days and most weekends making sure everything got done, and by the never-ending deadlines.

Now with two people depending on him for income, he felt added pressure to find more work to ensure payroll was covered 
every two weeks.

Tom was clearly at the "struggle" level of my "Four Levels of Freedom" hierarchy of small business owner freedom!

He still loved the architectural field, designing buildings that were beautiful and fulfilled his client's needs, and he was proud knowing the buildings he designed would be in use for many years into the future.

However, missing time with family and friends that he used to have, when he works for someone else, became frustrating and started to create burnout.

Tom realized that all the reasons he started his business were not being fulfilled, leaving him wondering if he had made the right decision to strike out on his own.

As it turns out, he definitely was not alone in this thinking!

Stressed out

Reasons Why Small Business Owners Start Their Business

The eMyth organization, in conjunction with PixelSpoke, conducted a survey in 2013 of 1,700 business owners in 83 countries and published their findings in the State of the Business Owner (SOBO) report.

Among the many questions they asked were, "Why did you start your business?"

Conventional wisdom might lead many non-business owners to assume that small business owner's biggest reason for starting a business is to make more money, or to maximize profit.

However, the results from SOBO, and others, say otherwise.

According to SOBO, "When asked why they started their business, the top three reasons entrepreneurs gave were:  freedom to pursue new opportunities, following their personal passion, and to gain independence from others’ control.  Money ranked a distant fourth.”

To test if this was true amongst the small business owners I was talking to in my presentations, I asked my audiences to rank these same four options, and consistently found the very same results.

When asking small business owners why they started their business.... Money ranked a distant fourth.
State of the Business Owner Report

In 2015, small business lender Credibly conducted a survey of over 1,400 small business owners, asking them, among other things, “What was your primary motivation to start a business?”

Once again, their data showed that money, or profits, were not the first choice of small business owners, instead falling behind issues focused more on freedom, and doing the work they love.

What can small business owner's do to close the gap between what they say they want, primarily greater freedom as a small business owner, and what their life as a small business owner actually is?  

Motivated to start a business?

Data from Credibly Survey

Closing the Gap Between Theory and Reality

To close the gap, small business owners must become Freedom Focused!

Build A Foundation

The foundation of a Freedom Focused business begins with a crystal clear vision for where your business is going. 

A vision that is so well defined that everyone on the team not only knows where the business is headed, but also how what they do each day is helping to make that vision a reality.

A critical part of the foundation is establishing what, exactly the core values are for the business, what you stand for and believe in as an organization.

Core values are far from a nicety that sound and look good hanging in a picture frame on the wall of the lobby or posted on a page of your website. 

They must be pervasive in everything you do as a business to create maximum internal alignment and ensure everyone on the team is rowing in the same direction.

If you don't have everyone on the team standing for and embodying the same core values, down deep the organization will never truly be in sync, operate at maximum efficiency, or deliver the highest quality results.

Implementation for Success

Leading the team to successful implementation requires clearly defined three-year, annual, and quarterly goals that ensure the business is systematically marching towards total fulfillment of the vision for the organization.

It requires key performance indicators that regularly measure success based on monthly, and preferably weekly, data rather than guesswork.

Lastly, successful implementation cannot be truly achieved without written processes that ensure consistent and predictable results, day in and day out.

With a strong team in place built around a clear vision and well defined core values and a strong implementation plan guiding the team towards success, business owners, like Tom, can now delegate more of the day-to-day operations, share in the responsibilities of running the business, and focus more and more time on the reasons for started the business in the first place.

Love the work you do

We would love to know what your reasons were for starting your small business, and include your results in our ongoing research.

Click here to take our Business Startup Survey and we'll share with you more information about what other small business owners have said about the reasons they started their business.

Visit to learn more about building a Freedom Focused business that will allow you to close the gap between theory and reality, realizing greater personal and professional freedom.

And don't forget to stay...

Focused on your freedom!

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