What motivates an individual to set up in business on his own account? It is an important question because his-or her-motivation often provides the key to the subsequent success or failure of the enterprise.

Probably the strongest motive of most self-employed people is the desire to achieve and maintain personal independence. They dislike working for others or being in any way subservient to them. They seek freedom and, having once gained it, often will refuse to give it up. It does not matter to them that they might earn more money, work easier hours and have more congenial conditions in the employment of others. Often, they will attempt one business venture after another until at last they find one in which they prove to be successful.

Some people decide to start their own businesses after a long period of unemployment or because they have become redundant in their employed occupation. Redundancy payments and 'golden handshakes' sometimes provide the modest investment that starts the business.

For others, it is a means of escaping the frustration of working for a large organization where their ideas and abilities are denied sufficient scope. The only way they feel they can fulfil themselves is to break away and operate independently. This is often the case with designers, development engineers and sales-men, whose work is of a creative nature.

Those whose prime aim is independence or to gain the opportunity to develop a product or service that is their 'brainchild' may find that they can keep their businesses small and still satisfy their ambitions. But the business created by a man or woman whose overriding aim is to make money is unlikely to remain small. The quest for wealth will always be the spur to do bigger and better things. Continual expansion will be the theme.

Because the underlying motives of those who set up in business on their own vary so widely, the question of what is-or is not-a successful business is difficult to answer. For many small shopkeepers and owners of modest manufacturing firms, their ability, year by year, to pay their way and keep their heads above water, is enough. Their personal satisfaction comes from their high degree of independence or their freedom to develop their personal skills and ideas. If they are satisfied with their own progress and they contribute, however modestly, to the wellbeing of the community they serve, who shall say they are not successful?

But if the aim, in starting the business, is to make money, there is a yardstick by which success can be measured. No success can be claimed if the profits of the business are a lesser sum than could be achieved by the owner investing his capital in a good security and his time and talents working for someone else.

Next Step: Case History Continued

Please Note

The Trade is, of course, a major source of product ideas. All manufacturers examine, with avid interest, the new products of their competitors.