Most people in business are motivated by money.

For some, it's a necessary evil--part and parcel with owning a business. They don't particularly enjoy the financial aspect of running a business, but they know it's a very necessary part of what they do.

For others, it's more enjoyable. Finances are a system of checks and balance where keeping more than you spend is like playtime--a fun game.

You wouldn't be in business if money didn't motivate you to some degree.

But if you dig a little deeper under the surface of fundraising, paychecks, and dividends, you'll discover that deeper drives are motivating your work.

You're not gratified by the money. You're gratified by what you believe it will give you.

I believe that every human alive has a purpose--a calling--that goes much deeper than simply enjoying a career or the money that comes with it. The sooner you begin the process of discovering it, the sooner you can find more meaning and fulfillment in your work. 

Here are five common motivators for entrepreneurs:


If money means freedom to you, then you're motivated by being able to control your own destiny. Personal wealth is a means to personal freedom.

Many entrepreneurs I know fall into this category.

They probably could have been classically diagnosed with Oppositional Defiant Disorder as an adolescent, but somewhere on their path they learned to use all that rebellion to start a business and drive it forward.

Being their own boss, creating their own rules, and being untethered to unnecessary demands is all the motivation they need.


If money means adventure to you, then you're motivated by experiences. You see money as an opportunity to have experiences that you otherwise might not have had.

In "Into the Wild," Jon Krakauer writes about the desire to live with no regrets. Those of you who make money in order to have great adventures will be singing an "Amen" after you read this.

"The very basic core of a man's living spirit is his passion for adventure,"Krakauer writes. "The joy of life comes from our encounters with new experiences, and hence there is no greater joy than to have an endlessly changing horizon, for each day to have a new and different sun."


Underneath the surface of fame and power is the core need to impact others. If money means being able to spread your mission farther--whatever that mission might be--then you're motivated to make an impact.

This one definitely fits me. As much as I enjoy writing and coaching, if no one feels inspired to action through my words, then it feels like my work is in vain--"What's the point?"

If you're like me, you do your best work when your impact is made visible--you see and hear how your work is affecting others.


I've heard some great stories about entrepreneurs who came from meager beginnings only to rise and prevail against poverty.

I also have heard many of them talk about how the money became a source of provision and security--a way to contribute to their family and community.

Closely linked to freedom and controlling your own destiny, money can provide security and peace of mind allowing you to contribute to people you love and causes that matter to you.

You may be less interested in scaling your influence or taking adventurous vacations. Knowing that you and your family are well taken care of is enough for you.


Relevance might just be a universal need that we all share.

A part of the human condition is to know that we matter--that our time spent on the earth is valuable and important. Money can bring all the things previously mentioned--freedom, adventure, impact, security--but in the end we all want to live a life that's relevant.

And if these deeper motivations underlie your overall desire to make money, then they are probably the drives that also lead you to fulfilling work on a daily basis.

Not only is this helpful in understanding your own work, but also in understanding what motivates employees and colleagues around you. 

Readers, what else motivates you? What does money mean to you? What am I missing?