On Earning More Money

I ended a recent presentation to a group of 40 African female entrepreneurs by asking these remarkable businesswomen:

Would you describe your main motivation for starting your business as: Being your own boss, or earning more money?

earning more money the way women work advice

The impetus behind my question was three fold:

  1. Variations of this question are often discussed by successful American businesswomen, myself included.
  2. This exact question was recently asked in a survey of 4,000 Chinese and Indian entrepreneurs.
  3. Some experts report that in terms of their educational and professional backgrounds, entrepreneurs from across the globe as well as male and female entrepreneurs share many similarities.

How do you think this group of African female entrepreneurs answered this question? Do you suppose they were more in line with entrepreneurs from the United States, India, or China?

As you may have correctly guessed, this group of African women all answered “earning more money.”

Interestingly, they are more closely aligned with the Chinese entrepreneurs who were surveyed and less aligned with the American and Indian entrepreneurs who are more likely to respond “to be my own boss” or “to own my own company.”

What accounts for this divergence?

It comes from differences in motivation and funding.

In the Legatum Institute survey conducted by YouGov, 81% of Indian business owners said that “jugaad, the ability to improvise and find ways around rules” is important to success.

In China, 93% of the business owners said guanxi, networks and relationships are necessary to succeed. While this survey did not break out the data by female and male entrepreneurs (most studies do not), a May 2010 study by the Kauffman Foundation, “Are Successful Women Entrepreneurs Different from Men,” found that successful women and men entrepreneurs are similar in almost every respect except for some small but informative ways.

Women entrepreneurs are more likely than male entrepreneurs to:

  • Cite a business partner’s encouragement as a key incentive to start their business.
  • Get early funding from their business partners, which makes women entrepreneurs more like their counterparts in India, who report relying on family resources to start their enterprises.
  • Rate their professional and business networks as more important contributors to success than do male entrepreneurs, which more closely aligns them with the Chinese entrepreneurs.

So, the question becomes, “Who in the world are female entrepreneurs more like, or does that even matter?”

What matters most is to understand what are the financial and psychological factors that motivate you to be successful.

Knowing and ensuring your passion and purpose are fulfilled are keys to your success.

What are your drivers and motivators? Would you rather earn more money or be your own boss? We’d love to hear from you and start adding to the very minimal data on successful female entrepreneurs.