Reasons to Be an Entrepreneur

Learning Outcomes

  • List common reasons for choosing to be an entrepreneur
An entrepreneur working on her laptop.

As entrepreneurs often caution, being an entrepreneur is not a job, it’s a lifestyle. Of course, that’s precisely the attraction for many potential entrepreneurs. Life is more than a paycheck. Entrepreneurship is an alternative way of looking at the world and your place in it. For many, it’s an opportunity to achieve their potential—a potential that may be limited or managed in a traditional job.

In an article for Entrepreneur, Uber Brands founder Jonathan Long cites 60 reasons to be an entrepreneur. Number 1 on his list: You have full control over your destiny. That’s a particularly powerful motivator, especially when you factor in the “at will” employment law (that is, you can be fired without cause), increased use of contingent labor (no benefits), gender and racial wage gaps, and other predatory behaviors.

To the salary point, a woman earns on average 80.5 cents for every dollar a man earns. Breaking it down, the percentage of a white man’s annual earnings by race is 87% for Asian women, 79% for white women, 63% for Black women, and 54% for Hispanic women. A November 2017 World Economic Forum study projected that will take 100 years to close the gender pay gap. Further, instead of decreasing, the gap appears to be widening; the 2016 prediction was 86 years. What’s particularly disturbing is what’s been termed the “mommy penalty.” A Senate Joint Economic Committee report found that women with children often earn less after returning to the workforce, while the opposite is true for working fathers. Key takeaway: if you’re a woman and/or minority, the game is stacked against you. Perhaps it’s time to take your marbles and start your own game with your own rules.

Statistics for Minority-Owned Businesses[1]

  • The number of Hispanic-owned businesses almost tripled between 1997 (1.2 million) and 2012 (3.3 million).
  • The percentage of U.S. businesses with 1 to 50 employees owned by African Americans increased by 50% between 1996 and 2015.
  • Almost a million firms with employees are minority owned: 53% are Asian American owned, 11% are African American owned, and almost a third are Hispanic owned.
  • 19% of all companies with employees are owned by women.

Entrepreneurial motivation short-list:

  1. Opportunity to make an impact
  2. Ability to live by your own rules, from values and culture to dress code, work environment, and location
  3. Membership in an elite group of leaders and doers
  4. No bench time or waiting to be chosen
  5. Opportunity based on performance rather than degrees
  6. Relative freedom from discrimination
  7. The thrill of creation and the ongoing challenges of growth
  8. Unlimited upside (financial) potential; no growth ceilings
  9. Extreme learning & personal growth
  10. Working with stimulating people and emerging ideas/technologies
  11. Recognition—after all, entrepreneurs are the rock stars of the business world
  12. Build something for future generations
  13. Defining “success” in your own terms

Employment dynamics and dysfunctions aside, the key is to understand your values and priorities and decide whether the entrepreneurial lifestyle is a fit of you. For more on this point, read The Balance Careers article How to Use Self Assessment Tools to Help You Choose A Career.

Watch It

The following short video is an example of the entrepreneurial spirit in action!

You can view the transcript for “Sriracha” (opens in new window) or the text alternative for “Sriracha” (opens in new window).

Practice Question


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  1. Robert Bernstein, “Hispanic-Owned Businesses on the Upswing,” International Trade Management Division, U.S. Census,, December 1, 2016; The Kauffman Index of Main Street Entrepreneurship,, November 2016.