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What motivates a successful entrepreneur?

We ask five top entrepreneurs to tell us what motivates them in our last article for Coutts Entrepreneurs Month.

2 min read


One question. Five entrepreneurs. Several insights into what drives those who build new businesses. Make way for our motivational vox pop...

What's your biggest motivation?

Sir Rod Aldridge, OBE

Founder of Capita and the Aldridge Foundation

“Even when I was building Capita, the greatest fear I had, and in turn my biggest motivation, was the fear of failure. I sensed that because of where I come from, there were people who quite readily would have had some very strong views if I failed. I had no intention of allowing that to happen and it drove me to prove people wrong.

“The second thing is my motivation to make a difference. I was very fortunate to have a group of people around me who wanted to do the same, and we demonstrated what you can achieve when you want to operate with purpose. In the end, when you look at yourself in the mirror, you have to believe that you have done all you can to make a difference, not just to your life but to others."

Grace Graham

Founder of WorkSpa

“My motivation comes from personal experience. I had to overcome many personal challenges, which has helped me to put business hurdles into perspective.

“Getting through those personal struggles, with the help of family, friends and mentors, made me think, ‘if I can do this, I can do anything’. It motivated me to do something to create better working environments for everyone, so that if people are struggling with their mental and physical health at work, they have the correct support to help them through it – something I did not have.

“The reality is we spend the majority of our time at work, so we need to create a working environment where there is an ethos of care and a feeling of safety. We all need people to look out for us; with the right support system, anything is possible, and it is creating this system for others that drives me forward."

Comment from coutts

We love hearing the passion that entrepreneurs have for making the world better. It’s a much stronger driver for them than the common narrative of disrupting and ‘breaking things’. We hear this from all the founders we work with. It’s a big reason we’re so proud to support them, and it’s extremely gratifying to help them help others.

“In their early days, we work with entrepreneurs to raise the finances they need and build an invaluable support network. As their companies evolve, we help them and their families benefit from and preserve the value they’re creating. And when the time comes to exit the business, or pass it on to someone else, we work with them to ensure that process goes as smoothly as possible and that they’re ready for what’s next."

Greg Kyle-Langley, Head of Entrepreneurs Proposition at Coutts

Oz Alashe, MBE

Founder of CybSafe

“One of the biggest motivators for me is the opportunity in front of me. I have always been led to believe that when presented with an opportunity one must take it. Not because one deserves it, not because it is a right, but because if we don’t, we miss the opportunity to do great things. And great things aren’t necessarily about doing grand things. Sometimes those things are actually quite small. They’re things that make other people’s lives better.

“So whether that’s the way in which we build our business, the culture within our business, the way in which we interact with our partners and our suppliers, or in our particular case the way in which we address one of the world’s biggest challenges – cyber security. How we make people’s lives better. That’s the driver for me."

“How we make people’s lives better. That’s the driver for me.”
Oz Alashe, MBE, founder of CybSafe

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Stephen Welton

Founder of Business Growth Fund

“I’m really lucky in my role. I get to meet entrepreneurs every day, every week, all over the UK. And what I find so inspiring is that people are really motivated about their business, they can get other people to follow them, and they have a vision.

“And whether or not they immediately succeed, they are really trying and they’re passionate. And that can’t help but rub off on those of us who are trying to support them with finance and with advice."

Catherine Wines

Co-founder of WorldRemit

“I love tech. I’ve always been a techy person who likes new innovations. I think tech has given opportunities to many women to start businesses. I think that’s where technology is great.

“If you look 30 or 40 years ago, setting up a business was very expensive because you had to have an office, enormous computers and so on. Now, you can set it up on your kitchen table. And as a woman I very much want to help and be a role model for younger women to start businesses."

Our thanks to all of the incredible entrepreneurs who took part in this year’s Coutts Entrepreneurs Month. We’re looking forward to returning next year with another packed calendar of events, articles, videos and podcasts.