To date the field of entrepreneurial research has been in great debate regarding the definition of an entrepreneur and what personality or behavioural traits can distinguish him or her from the rest of the population. Even fewer studies have explored the attitudes and motivations of entrepreneurs or relationships between motivations and venture success. And even less on the difference between those who start a business to exit it and those who build a business over 10-15 years.

Following 15 years or qualitative research (Grounded Theory) F4S Founder and Researcher Michelle Duval, undertook a formal study (Duval, 2013), with Supervision from Dr Sally Vanson The University of Derby, UK and with analytic support from Dr Sabina Kleitman, The University of Sydney, Australia.

The quantitative study used the Inventory of Work Attitude and Motivation (iWAM) as a methodology to explore the attitudes and motivations of a ‘hidden population’ of highly successful business owners, classified into two distinct groups: (a) Entrepreneurs who found and exited a business after a full or partial sale for between $6m-$1.2b; and (b) Business Builders who found or purchased a business and profitably grew it over 10 plus years.

The results demonstrated statistically significant differences between the attitudes and motivations of business owners and the rest of the working population, the two different types of business owners and also correlations between specific motivations and specific business results, such as profitability, funding, business failure, longevity, and business exits.

The study validated iWAM as a research methodology and contributes original findings to fields of entrepreneurship, coaching and business as a basis for future studies into causality between independent variables in attitude and motivations and dependent variables in business results.