hoto Credit: Peter Hellberg

One young entrepreneur said this: "It’s exhilarating to plan something, to watch it grow, and to know you made it happen." This sentence perfectly describes the reasons most often given by young entrepreneurs as to why they are in business. In addition, when you talk to other young entrepreneurs you will hear the same thing over and over again: the most important benefit of starting and running their own businesses is that they are free to do what they like and how they like it.

Indeed, to us, the essence of entrepreneurship is the freedom to do what you like. Some entrepreneurs may spend a few hours a week on their businesses, while others may spend every waking moment trying to make their businesses successful. The bottom line is that no matter how much time they spend on their businesses, they feel a sense of pride and a feeling of accomplishment in the end. This sense of fulfillment is more rewarding than money. Some people call this type of fulfillment, "Psychic Income".

I (Emmanuel Modu) conducted a survey of 160 young teenvestors (ages 16 to 18) who attended Entrecon, a high school conference on entrepreneurship at the University of Pennsylvania. (Entrecon is no longer in existence). I asked the participants why they were interested in starting their own businesses. This is the only survey of its kind and it provided me with great insight as to why young people choose the business path. These young people expressed their motivation for becoming entrepreneurs in terms of the sense of satisfaction that entrepreneurship gave them as well as the sense of being in control of their own destinies. A statistic that will surprise you is that only 15 percent of the students were interested in entrepreneurship solely as a way to earn money.

When one of the young entrepreneurs at Entrecon was asked what got her interested in entrepreneurship, she said, "security—happiness that I will be doing something I created. As an entrepreneur, you don’t have limits unless you limit yourself."

Below are some of the responses I received from the 160 young entrepreneurs I surveyed regarding why they wanted to become entrepreneurs.

"Entrepreneurs are organized and creative in all endeavors. Their main goal is to be a success first, then make money."

"They provide employment for others."

"By being an entrepreneur you can help your community."

"Entrepreneurs are responsible for their own success and can determine what that success will be."

"The sky is the limit in entrepreneurship."

"Entrepreneurs have complete freedom of choice."

"A love of the business you start."

"Entrepreneurs may make lots of money and may not have to answer to anyone depending on who financed the business (yourself, other)."

"Entrepreneurs can make money enjoying what they want to do."

"It’s exhilarating to plan something, to watch it grow, and to know you made it happen!"

"It is important to me to have my own store and to be creative and to make other people happy."

"While making money, I am setting up a service to benefit the community."

"Security—happiness that I will be doing something I created. As an entrepreneur you don’t have limits unless you limit yourself."

"Creativity, risk, exploration, opportunity."

"A personal sense of satisfaction that I have accomplished something that people are pleased to receive (i.e., my lawn–mowing service)."

"I can own my business doing something I enjoy."

"Open–ended opportunities and challenge."

"You get out of it what you put into it. Put a lot in, get a lot out."

"Power, freedom, security, and the desire to help others by helping myself."

"Power, freedom, recognition, and satisfaction."

"Entrepreneurs have control over all decisions."

"The satisfaction of achieving a goal for my own personal benefit."

"Entrepreneurs do everything themselves and that leads to great self–satisfaction."

"You are your own boss: you control your own destiny."

"The sense of self–satisfaction."