For love or money: what motivates the nation's small business owners?

Motivation and fun

18 May 2016

It’s no secret that running a business means long hours and total dedication, but what motivates the nation’s small business owners to stay committed to their companies?

We surveyed* over 800 of the UK’s hard-working entrepreneurs to find out – and the answers might surprise you.

Financial gain

Although financial gain is an important driver, our study discovered that it’s not a priority for most entrepreneurs. Fewer than 2% of the small business owners we surveyed said they want to see their names in the Forbes billionaires list.

The most financially motivated age group is the youngest, with almost 25% of business owners aged 18-34 stating that their main priority is to be wealthy. In contrast, the least financially motivated are 45-54 year olds, with two in five responding that riches don't matter to them.

Paying for retirement

Over a quarter of the small business owners we asked say they're driven by the prospect of early retirement. Almost a third said that their dream is to stop working within the next ten years, while around 10% said that they're hoping to sell their business during that timescale. Others have exciting plans for after-work life, including planning to relocate to sunnier climates or travel the world.

Making the world a better place

One fifth of small business owners said they want to make a positive difference in the world through their business – and six out of ten feel that they're already achieving this goal. 10% believe they're making the world more beautiful, and a similar number say they're helping people lead healthier lives. What’s more, nearly two out of five feel that they're making their customers happy. If that's not a good reason to get up in the morning, we don't know what is!

Work-life balance

The majority of small business owners (63%) are driven by having more control over their work-life balance. When you work for someone else it can be difficult to fit in tasks like picking the kids up from school, taking days off mid-week or even attending doctor's appointments. It’s no surprise, then, that independence and the ability to 'be your own boss' is one of the biggest motivators for small business owners.

So what motivates you to keep driving your business forward? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!

*Based on a study of 800 micro-business owners conducted by AXA Business Insurance in March 2016.