This weeks article is sneaking in front of the Creative Visionary series I have been putting together since my previous post. Apologies to anyone who was expecting to see the next installment, it will be following this article in my column.
The reason for the delay is because of a last minute invite to write about a Visa small business promotion, giving away $10,000 in prizes to small business owners. At the end of this article are links about how you can enter the sweepstakes.
The Secret Business Sauce
Today you’ll find out about the driving forces that keep small business folk going regardless of the challenges they face, and as entrepreneurs, we know there are many.
We’re exploring intrinsic rewards and motivations that drive you even more so than external ones. Understanding intrinsic rewards and motivation sheds light on why entrepreneurs are capable of putting in crazy long hours and showing unwavering dedication to their products and service.
I’ve interviewed a couple of fascinating business people for this article, including Andrianna and Con Fardoulis, of Fardoulis Chocolates and Annalisa and Luca Tortora, of Visco Selected Fine Foods and I will be drawing from Daniel H. Pink’s research in his latest book, “Drive”.
I only hit upon the idea for this article thanks to listening to the responses from my interviewees about why they’re in business and what makes them keep going in the face of major challenges. As I listened to them, I realized that many of the attributes being shared relate to intrinsic rewards.
Intrinsic vs External Rewards
You are probably already aware of external rewards which come in the form of money, power, status, recognition etc. But there are driving forces that come from within that account for how and why small business owners keep going against all odds. As I spoke to Andrianna, Anna and Con about their respective businesses, not one of them mentioned being driven by any of the external rewards above.
You have motivational forces that drive you from within. Pink says -
we have an innate drive to be autonomous, competent and connected to one and other. When this drive is liberated, people achieve more and lead richer lives
It is these forces that entrepreneurs thrive on in running their own business. Dan Pink explains that when these innate psychological needs are met, you become intrinsically motivated, productive and happy.
The Unstoppable Autonomous Entrepreneur
Let’s start by looking at autonomy, this is one of the biggest drivers for entrepreneurs. Being able to provide a valuable product and service to others whilst enjoying the freedom to explore and express your creativity is an extraordinary motivator. Your creativity is inextricably linked to how autonomous you feel; freedom and creativity go hand in hand.
When you work for someone else, you are rarely given free reign to innovate and problem solve at will. Even if you’re expected to in your job, you always have to get permission from the powers that be to run with your ideas and innovations. This slows down the process of innovation and problem solving and inhibits creativity.
Entrepreneurs are highly creative individuals, they love a challenge and they love being able to rise to the challenge. You have to be creative to stay in business.
Business owners invite challenges into their life everyday and draw on creativity to handle these challenges. The intrinsic motivation of autonomy drives you in business and the sense of freedom and creativity that comes from it is a great source of fulfillment in itself.
Mastery – The Great Motivator
Now let’s look at the innate need for competence, I actually prefer to call this “mastery”. This intrinsic motivator came up again and again in my interviews with business owners, Andrianna, Anna and Con. It became screamingly apparent that developing mastery was a powerful driving force in their work.
Con described his and Andrianna’s intrinsic motivation for developing mastery in their chocolate business in a fascinating and quite poetic manner.
Con explained -
It’s like we’re competing in the “Chocolatier Olympics” and we’re up against the world’s biggest and best like Lindt, Godiva, Ferrero Rocher, etc. We have to perform at that level and you just have to rise to the occasion. You get such a sense of dignity from creating and maintaining your products and service at this standard.
Annalisa described her experience of running her own business as a great way to cultivate self awareness. She told me -
Facing adversity when running your business shows you what you’re really made of. You learn who you are and what you’re truly capable of accomplishing.
Small business owners draw on the intrinsic motivational drive to continuously develop mastery in their work, and this drive helps them put in the long hours and stay focussed in tough times.
Connections Are The Cornerstone of Small Business
Relationships in small business matter – a lot. Andrianna explained -
Small businesses don’t have massive budgets for marketing. The strong connections we create are a firm foundation for us.
Because feeling connected to others is a innate psychological need, building and fostering relationships often comes naturally to entrepreneurs.
I heard an extraordinary example of how business owners will go way further than the extra mile to maintain a good relationship with a client. Annalisa Tortora has personally got on flights to deliver goods to businesses when the delivery truck with the order hasn’t come through in time.
A new restaurant opened in Sydney recently. The freight truck hadn’t delivered the goods from their business and the head chef was nearly having a heart attack because they didn’t have the produce for opening night.
Anna got on a flight at 4am on Saturday morning, flew to Sydney, got a hire car, drove to meet the freight truck and hand delivered the goods the chef needed to make it through the opening weekend. She told me she’s done this numerous times for clients and you do it because you have an agreement with them and you have to “deliver the goods” – literally in this case!
Connections do matter; feeling connected to others is an innate motivating force and this drive is also the cornerstone of a successful small business.
This just about wraps up my post on the “Driven From Within”, thanks for reading and I’d love to hear your comments at the end.
I’d also like you to know I received compensation from Visa for sharing my views in this post, but the views expressed here are solely mine, not Visa’s.
This post was sponsored by Visa Small Business as part of their #gobiz Sweepstakes for @VisaSmallBusiness. Visa will be rewarding small business owners with $10,000 in prizes for their hard work from October 25th through November 17th. Visit here http://hosting.thetenthwave.com/visasb/ for more details, and follow @VisaSmallBiz for ways to help make your small business more efficient and successful. Discover more at http://visa.com/business.