Five motivators for starting your own business

Posted: 17/08/2015

What makes the difference between an employee and an entrepreneur?

Some would say it’s the basic ‘get and go’ to take the risk to start your own business.

But entrepreneurs find that motivation in different places.

In a new book called “Just Like You”, more than 50 entrepreneurs from Oxfordshire puzzled out the question: “what motivated you to start a company?”

The answers are diverse, but five key reasons for starting your own business emerged. Here they are:


“I was frustrated with my existing role and my colleagues at the time,” said Andrew Gerrard who started InTouch Marketing. He was working for a large, successful full service marketing agency and needed a change. But he didn’t make the move without support from others.

“I talked to clients, past clients and people whose judgement I respected, but importantly people who knew me well. In those discussions I received encouragement and support and one client said he would be my first client if I made the break.”

“I got fed up corporate bollocks”, said Jemma Proctor who started the Oxford design company, One.

Jemma listed her frustrations with working in a ‘corporate’ job. “Sitting around great big boardroom tables, dealing with internal politics, bickering, power games, having endless conversations that achieve nothing other than making the people who are having them feel important.

“Not being able to make a difference, to effect change. Not being able to say what you mean and mean what you say because there are unwritten rules about what and is not “acceptable” in a corporate environment.”


“I think the motivation to work for myself came more from a desire not to work for someone else (and prove that I could) rather than some drive to make lots of money, said Ben Prior who started Supercamps and now runs Active Education Group.

Dave Richards of ProDrive echoed his comments: I don’t think it was a particularly conscious decision to start my own Company; it just evolved from the various activities I was engaged in. However, one of the great motivations for me was independence.”


“The fundamental motivation for buying Fallowfields was to work with my wife of 10 years, who, due to the commitments of IBM business, I hardly saw,” said hotelier Anthony Lloyd. “We wanted to work together. My secondary aim was to provide for the family a decent education and lifestyle.”

Percy Patti, who set up Percy’s Travel took the step for similar reasons.

“I was in a situation where I would either have to go and sign on and raise children on benefits, or get myself together and deliver,” she said. “I needed to be successful in order to provide. There’s no stronger motivation than the need to provide for your child.”

4. Entrereneurial Spirit

“I always had the enterprising spirit coursing through my veins, “ said Bernard Grenville-Jones of OAC Actuaries and Consultants.

“In a large part this was down to the attitude of my parents, the culture of curiosity that pervaded my very early years, and the South African ‘can do’ attitude.

“All this galvanised in me the burning desire to succeed. The desire to set goals and dreams and to work steadily towards them. Not to earn a quick buck, or to become famous, but to build something meaningful.”

Shamin Durani who started SWIFT CornerStone Construction agreed.

“I was highly motivated, extremely enthusiastic and full of energy,” she said.

“Furthermore, I am naturally a “go-getter” and operate best as my own boss. Although it can be arduous at times, the rewards of being an entrepreneur, if your heart is truly in it, cannot be matched by traditional employment.”

5. Recognising a market need

Ben Goss of Distribution Technology Ltd said he saw an opening in the market and just “went for it.”

“My motivations were all around the desire to build a business, and address what I saw as an enormous market need/opportunity. This was also true in 2003 when I co-founded Distribution Technology (DT),” he said.

“We took a different route, providing technology to financial advice firms, but the driver was the same. Clearly you also want to make money and create something of significant value. But the fundamental driver was (and still is) the desire to create something important that makes ‘a dent in the universe’ and solves real, material problems for customers.”

“Just Like You” is a limited edition book about Oxfordshire entrepreneurs that has been published by Oxfordshire Business First, the innovation network. For more information, click here.