• Carl

The link between Motivation & Entrepreneurship

Think about the last time you were truly motivated to do something. It could be anything, from working out, to changing careers.

What drove you to perform the action? Were you influenced by something you saw? Did someone force you to do it? What were the emotions you felt before, during, and after the task was completed? Most importantly, did you decide to take action through your own free will?

I ask you these questions because motivation can come from a number of factors, and the way you were influenced will alter your performance and willingness to participate.

What is Motivation?

Motivation can be defined as a fleeting emotion that incentivizes a person to perform an action, whether it is positive or negative.

Sometimes motivation comes from within, but it can also be induced by an external influencer. While motivation can transpire for a number of reasons, it is most effective when a meaningfully enjoyable reward can be obtained.

Two Types of Motivation

When speaking of motivation, there are two forms to take into consideration: intrinsic and extrinsic.

Intrinsic motivation is defined by the internal drives that encourage you to perform an action. For instance, it is the reason why you feel purposeful when pursuing a passion project. It is also associated with the release of dopamine, or ‘feel-good’ chemical, that helps you perform your best when there is a true connection with the task at hand.

Extrinsic motivation, on the other hand, relates to the external rewards that are presented after a task is completed. This could be in the form of money, a prize, a luxury car, or even a snack. Extrinsic motivators are usually performance-based and, while you are still encouraged to complete your mission, it might not encourage you enough to do your best or, more importantly, participate in something that interests you on a personal level.


For many, the thought of becoming self-motivated is a tough pill to swallow; if it is not hardwired in your brain from birth, it may require extensive training to master.

Where extrinsic motivation is determined by a tangible reward system, intrinsic motivators foster a more notable outcome simply because the pursuit becomes the reward. And this is where we can begin to form bonafide connections that link motivation to entrepreneurship.

What is Entrepreneurship?

Entrepreneurship is the term that defines a self-sufficient individual, or group of individuals, pursuing a professional endeavor.

Entrepreneurs are known to have many traits that, when combined, induce a goal-oriented lifestyle. This frequently provides them with the upper hand, as they are willing and able to accomplish almost any task that is set in front of them, consequently producing the sensation of empowerment.

Empowering the Mind

Empowerment comes from the self-motivated individual, or it can be provoked by someone who is selflessly trying to offer an opportunity that might not be available otherwise.

The feeling of empowerment derives from the completion of a task. Typically one that was accomplished wholeheartedly or is associated with mastering a skill. Therefore, to experience empowerment, you must be motivated enough to complete a monumental task, thus providing strength and autonomy.

Time Flies When You're Having Fun

As stated above, pursuing a goal that provides both purpose and meaning leads to empowerment. The concept that establishes a channel to efficiently stimulate motivation and give rise to mastery is called Flow.

Have you ever been so focused on a task that you completely lost track of time? That state of attention can be considered Flow.

When you are in Flow, your senses become heightened and your output is optimized. Your pupils dilate, allowing you to focus on the goal in front of you. Tunnel vision sets in and you no longer pay attention to what's happening around you, preventing distractions. Your mind and body become one, completely engulfed in the situation, enabling you to concentrate solely on your mission and absorb information at a higher frequency.

Intrinsic motivators are the reason why you were hyper focused and entered Flow. When you feel fulfilled while you are completing an action, the reason for carrying on turns into the act of continuing itself. In this instant, no other rewards are required to motivate you and extrinsic motivators become lackluster.

This is where extrinsic rewards reach their limit. They become stale, redundant, and tend to fizzle out; whereas intrinsic motivators are able to keep your attention and position you in a productive state of Flow.

This is why many entrepreneurs are able to reach their goals and achieve more than the average individual. They believe in what they are doing and enter Flow on a daily basis. The intrinsic rewards they obtain are all that is required to motivate them, proving that their time and energy was well spent.

Intrinsically Motivated Theories

Now that we have discussed the difference between intrinsic and extrinsic motivation and how entrepreneurs are able to thrive in a state of Flow, let's discuss a few theories that provide some context.

Let’s begin with Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs.

In 1943, psychologist Abraham Maslow developed a framework that identified the human needs structured as a five-tiered model, often depicted as a pyramid. His acclaimed Hierarchy of Needs actualized the human desires from survival to spiritual.

From bottom to top the needs are: physiological, safety, love and belonging, esteem, and self-actualization. The needs at the bottom of the pyramid provide support as an individual grows and must be satisfied before the needs at the top can be attended to. The final three needs are not required for a person to survive but if they are willing to put in the effort, direction and purpose will be injected into their life.

To break it down even further, psychologists and researchers have separated the physical desires from the ones that propel a person in order to find the ultimate cause for intrinsic motivation.

According to Richard M. Ryan and Edward L. Deci, there are three basic needs that facilitate intrinsic motivation: relatedness, competence, and autonomy. These factors, dubbed The Self-Determination Theory, provoke action in an individual that motivates them through meaningful incentives.

The focus of this theory is to present the elements that perpetuate engagement through connectivity, effectiveness, and self-endorsed behavior.

About 30 years later, Andrzej Marczewski developed a concept that ties directly into Ryan and Deci’s theory, called RAMP (relatedness, autonomy, mastery, and purpose).

Marczewski’s theory slightly differs by adding purpose, which is an attributing factor to many self-motivated individuals, especially when they are pursuing something that brings them true happiness.

Purpose also provides additional stimulation, especially once the desired achievement is met.

Linking Motivation with Entrepreneurship

Self-motivated individuals and entrepreneurs commonly possess similar traits that define the go-getter mentality: discipline, self-efficacy, resilience, perseverance, ambition, versatility, competence, and grit, just to name a few.

Ambition and entrepreneurship run parallel to one another, which is why many self-motivated individuals set out on their own venture in order to fulfill their personal needs and sustain their desired lifestyle.

It should also be noted that to become an entrepreneur, one must be self-motivated but one does not have to be an entrepreneur to be self-motivated.

Becoming a Self-Motivated Entrepreneur

Before you begin venturing on your own, a positive, forward-looking mindset should be established. While it will take time and may be difficult to achieve, at first, it is imperative to be motivated if you wish to establish yourself as a successful entrepreneur.

Some tips that can help you become self-motivated are as follows:

Develop purposeful and positive habits

  • Success stems from good habits. Creating a routine that generates positive energy can trickle into the rest of your life, including work and play. Start your day on the right side of the bed as often as possible.

  • Pro Tip: Making your bed in the morning has been linked to increased mood and productivity.

Mind your self-talk

  • What you say to yourself becomes who you are. Therefore, keeping your thoughts positive will allow you to feel better and do better.

  • Pro Tip: Your mood and health are influenced by your mindset. This allows you to change the world around you by altering the way you think.

Discipline is key

  • Self-discipline is of the utmost importance when it comes to being your own boss. You must be aware of your habits and the energy you emit. Schedule your time wisely and develop structure around your routines.

  • Pro Tip: Being aware of your finances, desires, and distractions will allow you to create a schedule to fit your needs, enabling you to compose your lifestyle accordingly.

Empower yourself through your work

  • As we previously discussed, empowerment comes from within. Learn the tools needed to excel your growth and allow you to become the person everyone looks to for the answer. The more you know, the more you can do.

  • Pro Tip: Becoming an expert and mastering your craft is what will allow others to look up to you. This will provide opportunities that might not have been available if you did not take the time to focus your energy and hone in on your niche.

Power to the Gig Economy

The term entrepreneur is being used now more than ever thanks to the gig economy. The name itself comes from the short sprints, or gigs, that are performed by entrepreneurs and is defined by freelance workers who make use of short-term contracts.

Everyone wants more; whether it is more freedom, more money, or more control over their future. The goal is to be motivated enough to achieve your objective by purposefully participating in tasks that hold your focus and empowers you to prosper.


The latest fusion of technology, psychology, and entrepreneurial techniques are producing a generation of aggressively enterprising individuals who wish to take on the world according to their specific terms and conditions.

Modern philosophies, such as gamification, are providing purpose that motivates people to give it their all. While the act of becoming self-motivated can be daunting, once you are there the way you view opportunities will be far greater than you could have ever imagined. Be free to grow and do what satisfies your needs!

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