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Where do you find the inspiration and energy to start and build your own venture?

I'm interested to learn where entrepreneurs and aspiring entrepreneurs get their inspiration from for starting and running their own venture? From discussions with many peers I learn that inspiration for undertaking a business comes from one's self, but that external sources also play a significant role. Think of role models, peers, literature, tv/film, the like. I'd like to know if these answers are different for entrepreneurs around the globe.

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    Mar 10 2011: .
    Like Gale Kooser, my efforts come from a clearly defined need (call it a "market") that seems highly relevant and fun to work on at the same time.

    E.g. I've created a small company selling basic farm inputs to Central African farmers. They benefit tremendously, and so do I.

    A priority for me is always a positive answer to the question: do my customers really benefit in a direct, tangible way, without becoming mere "consumers"? This is a paternalistic question, but I don't really care about that.

    Being an entrepreneur without looking at customers as pure money bags, that's my aim.
  • Mar 8 2011: I have started three companies. The first never really got off the ground; it wasn't a failure, but it wasn't a success. I just folded it and went back to having a job. The second was a huge success. It grew rapidly for 12 years and I sold it for a big whack of cash. I then took a couple of years off. The third is ongoing. It has had a couple of hard years in the recession, but is otherwise a healthy, growing business.All my life I have had the feeling that I wanted to be my own boss. When I finally took the plunge, I was insecure enough that I started a business with a partner. That was a mistake. He was not good, and our agendas started to differ, and that is why the business struggled a couple of years before we called it a day. The reason I started my successful company was triggered by envy: I was working for a company in which all the senior executives were ex-IBM. I have never worked for IBM. IBM is a strong culture company -- its employees have a sort of unspoken language that only they can understand. In the company I was working for, I was doing sort of OK, but then a new employee joined, an ex-IBMer, and he promptly proceeded to rocket up the ladder for no reason other than that he spoke that strange language. He was harmless but useless, extremely adept at quietly taking credit for work done by others. I watched his rise for two years and then one morning said eff it, if that's what it takes to become an executive in this company, I'm outta here. So I started my second company and things went extremely well.The message? First, I always had a desire to do it my way. Second, it took an external trigger to get me to take the plunge. And third, it helps to be a bit of a social misfit!
  • Mar 9 2011: My inspirations come from what people need & what part of it I can contribute. Monetary gain is never a driving force, but helping folks is. My gain is the product that no amount of money can buy-inner happiness.
  • Mar 9 2011: I have been self employed for forty years and in that time, I have achieved considerable success and experienced enormous personal and financial loss.

    The single trait which seems to me to be what drives me, is my need to be independent .

    Free to make the decisions which truly matter. One must be confident, a self starter and an optimist at all times. But these traits simply support my need to be independent. That is it in one word.

    Free free to choose, free to prosper, free to learn and thus grow In every way.
    There are many other aspects to doing a start up, growing the business, picking up the pieces, but the hour is late. I hope this is helpful to someone, somewhere.
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    Mar 29 2011: Inspiration - natural aggression toward oppression and monotony
    Energy to start - youth and wisdom (my own and that of others)
    Energy to build - youth of the future
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    Mar 13 2011: In my case there are two major factors. One is when you see the need you think you can facilitate and second one is the urge (borne from dissatisfaction of status quo) to do things in a better way. There are of course also a number of “external” factors such as a opportunity, independence, risk and so on that are very important for course of decisions.
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    Mar 9 2011: I don't know too many entrepreneurs who started a business because of a role model - and I deal with a lot of entrepreneurs. In fact, I can't think of a single persion who has ever answered my query ("Why did you start this business?") with a person's name.

    I started my first business at nine. I saw an opportunity to trade something I had that was needed, for something I wanted (which wasn't strictly the cash, oddly enough).

    I find the true entrepreneurial personality works well in small businesses (start-ups in specific) but is stifled in larger corporations. In the former they are likely to be exploited; in the latter they are likely to be squandered if not a source of friction.

    Inevitably you realize that you won't be a solid fit and be happy anywhere but helming your own project.

    The external factors usually come in the form of people who believe in your ability - and possibly your vision, but this is less necessary - and who support you in your quest. I know a couple of people who have overcome the hurdles of unsupportive environments ("you aren't smart enough", "you can't do that") by simply choosing to put themselves into a more supportive milieu, usually people who are already doing it.

    I am sure somewhere there are people who were inspired by Branson, Onassis, or Edison, but I don't personally know one.
    • Mar 15 2011: Thanks for sharing, Gisela. It helps a lot.
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    Mar 9 2011: I think the main drive behind all private ventures is a distaste with the status quo. In some cases its a desire to be different, in other cases its a need to do something, either way its begins with the fundamental idea that what is shouldn't be, and should be different. Facebook, Google, Apple Inc, Ford, and nearly all other companies started this way. A desire to change. So thats a simple drive right the drive to change the status quo.
    But then looking at the individual those who pioneer things have a complete vision, or at least they see the potential end result and thusly stop at nothing until it is achieved. You could call it an innate ability or call it an acquired taste either way its a necessity, to drive forward a venture that could be a complete failure. But there are also those who get into ventures because there is nothing else to do. Perhaps they were considerably successful at some point and are now looking to do something else.
    I know that for me, its a desire to help others that fuels much of what I do, including the ventures that I help or start. For me its changing the status quo, and seeing what the future brings.
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      Mar 9 2011: I know the first two things I started were out of frustration. In fact when I talk to kids and other groups about starting a business I always talk about frustration. Something is not working, being done wrong, not being done at all or being done in a very inefficient way. And I am frustrated that there is a better, simpler cheaper or greener way to do the same thing.

      I also agree with your point about vision. As soon as you identify that fly in the ointment now you have to go about putting a plan together that can remove it. I know I am frustrated by many things but have only had the resources to work on a few of them. So not only do I need a vision but I need a good amount of resources that can be aligned to a specific project.
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    Mar 8 2011: I haven't started a business venture, but every project I've started or become involved in has been inspired by a combination of internal and external motivators. Usually internally it's something that I'm excited by or interested in, or something that fills a need or void in my life. Externally it's often something I see lacking in the world around me...a way that my energy can be put forward in changing things. It's very rarely TV, or literature, except perhaps in the broadest sense.

    I may, for instance, read a book about something like a coming of age story that will linger with me in the back of my head somewhere. Maybe a few months later I'll realize that I have the opportunity to create a connection between an activity I'm already involved in and a youth group, and I'll be prompted by that sort of subconscious memory to examine the opportunity and see if it's something I'm interested in.

    What I'm looking at in terms of my future and getting into business is finding a way to tap into that same set of interests and inspiration stream to find something that excites me and creates positive motion, so that I'm not just working the same job I've always worked and trying to convince myself it's different.